Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Father Mumbles

On Tuesday my wife and I attended the funeral of her cousin.

He was 37. He passed away after having a a heart attack. Very sad.

The funeral was held at Our Lady of the Assumption church in Strafford, PA. My mother-in-law reminded me where it was by telling me "you know, where you got married". Like I had forgotten or something. I know I'm getting old Mom, but I remember where OLA is.

It was a Catholic Mass after a viewing and the Mass was said by an 86 year old priest. God bless him, I'm not sure that is what I would want to be doing at 86 and yet here he was on a Tuesday morning giving a funeral for a bunch of people he didn't know. (Her cousin had moved to Arizona but was brought back here to be buried.)

The only problem with the Mass was that the priest was inaudible.

He had the most peculiar way of being completely unintelligible which made for some strange moments during the Mass. His voice was very sing-songish and the pitch would fluctuate wildly up and down. He also spoke in a low voice but that wasn't the problem. It sounded as if he was racing through a text that he knew so well by heart that he wasn't pronouncing it as much as he was making roll off his tongue just as quickly as he could. It was like someone saying their ABCs in 1.2 seconds but sounding like Bing Crosby.

Bing Crosby, late in his life did those old Minute Maid Orange Juice commercials and he sounded like that only fast and in low volume.

Completely unintelligible.

"bibipdy-bibipdy-bibipdy-bopidy-bibipdy Christ be bibipdy-bibipdy-bibipdy"

Now a Catholic Mass has a lot of dance moves and it takes a tight coordination between the leader (the priest) and the crowd. There is sitting, kneeling and standing and there is a lot motion. If you are new I guess it's a like like being at one of those football games where the crowd in the stands has cards to hold up that spell things and makes pictures. You have a job to do and if you are new, you may not be quite sure how to do it. Having a Father Mumbles lead the novice funeral crowd in the Catholic calisthenics was funny.

Father Mumbles would give instructions to sit, stand or kneel and the noobs weren't quite sure what do. He would say "bibipdy-bibipdy-bibipdy-bopidy-bibipdy" then hold his hands in the air, expecting the crowd to kneel and no one would move. We would all look around to see what the person next to us was doing and then try to follow along. There were a lot of eyes darting left and right trying to figure out the next move.

The decease's father and his whole family were from India which only made it more interesting. At one point I looked over and they were just going through the motions. They would stand and sit when the crowd went up and down but it was clear that they had given up.

When Father Mumbles spoke, I couldn't look at my wife because we would just start cracking up.

Then came the homily. In a Catholic Mass the homily is where the priest speaks on a topic freely rather than recite a given script. Here Father Mumbles rambled incoherently for 10 minutes. In addition to the Bing Crosby impression he added a story made absolutely no sense what so ever. he mixed several different Gospel stories together and I think he was talking about Jiarus Daughter whom Jesus raised from the dead and Lazarus. Something about a Mother. I don't know.

The single most awkward part came when Father Mumbles asked if anyone wanted to say anything about the deceased. He did his bibipidy-bopidy thing in front of the church and sat down. My brother in law, who was acting as canter up on the alter, wasn't sure what he said and was awkwardly waiting for the Mass to start again since there was no scripted place where the priest says "bibipdity-bibipdity-bibipdity" and sits down.

It was an audible at the line from a priest no one could understand.

Surprisingly, no one came forward.

1 comment:

Neil said...

Sometimes I wonder why they don't throw in a public speaking class at the religious seminaries. It seems as if that is a big part of the job.