July 10, 2009

Being Schticky

I find that in the course of my ministry I have developed certain bits of schtick, formulaic ways of delivering a message in a humorous way. It's like bits of speech that get ingrained in my execution of various duties, and which I find myself saying over and over.

Here's my schtick for the end of a wedding rehearsal:

"Ok, everybody, I have good news, bad news, and an opportunity for you.

"The good news is that we have the privilege of witnessing one of the greatest acts of faith there is in this life. This is church, and in church we are about faith, right? Right? (I can't hear you!) These guys [the candidates for matrimony] are about to pledge their consent to each other forever, wagering the love they have experienced through each other against an unknown future. And there's no greater act of faith. So give them every reverence and respect, as you would any other sacramental revelation of God.

"The bad news is that this nuptial Mass which we will celebrate on Saturday does not satisfy your ordinary obligation to assist at Sunday Mass. So those of you who are Catholics get to go to church two days in a row!

"The opportunity is this: I'm not saying this applies to anybody here, but sometimes it happens that when people come to a wedding, they haven't been to Mass in a while. So, if this is you, and you would like to share in Holy Communion with our friends who will be newly married at that point, you should really go to confession. Pope Innocent III, in his decree Omnis utriusque sexus--it sounds like a hot document, right?--asked that each Catholic receive Holy Communion once a year, confessing any serious sins if necessary. So, I'll sit in the confessional for a while, just in case. Otherwise, have a great night. I hope these guys are taking you all somewhere good, and buying you a drink for the effort you put into this rehearsal. Enjoy yourselves and I'll see you on Saturday!"


That last part, about confession, I only started doing recently. The response has really surprised me, and sometimes I'm in the confessional for a half an hour or so at the end of a wedding rehearsal. I challenge myself at weddings and funerals to try to hook people back into the practice of their faith.

13 comments:

pinoycatholic said...

father charles, maybe it would be a great podcast to record your homilies! this one is great!

pennyante said...

I like the way you put that opportunity. You don't lay a guilt trip on anyone... Maybe that's why you get the response you do...

God certainly has given you a gift...

Julia said...

What a great practice!

Brother Charles said...

The priest where I went to college used to like to say, "holy day of opportunity."

ben in denver said...

This is truly great schtick, I'm very please that you end up spending so much time in the confessional.

Brother Charles said...

Thanks, Ben. I think for me preaching is 3 parts theology, 2 parts pitchmanship, and 1 part theater.

ben in denver said...

You are a herald of the Great King!

Rachel Gray said...

That's awesome. With something as daunting as confession, it really helps to know that the priest is ready and inviting me to come.

Barb, sfo said...

What an excellent idea! I wish that I had been encouraged to receive the Sacrament just before my own wedding. (And I like that professor's "holy day of opportunity" idea.)

Paul A. Zalonski said...

Good. How many presented themselves to God's mercy? I think this is a reasonable pitch: propose Christ and the sacraments. What do the priests do?

I would add personal experience (not the content of your confession) as a way of saying we all need God's grace and liberation. Of course if the priest doesn't talk about his desire to be without sin or his experience of going to confession people won't be encouraged to go themselves.

If I had time as a priest, I would sit in the confessional prior to the wedding Mass. Just make sure the candles are lit and the Mass prepared so when you come back to vest everything is ready to go. Let the groom think in silence about the momentous life-changing event he's about to enter.

So many priests only make themselves available for confession on Saturday from 3-3:15 and by appointment; I think the many people would avail themselves to the Divine Physician on Sundays prior to Mass and prior to the sacraments (Marriage, Baptism, 1st Eucharist, etc) if the priest says: "Hi here for confession if you want it."

Qualis Rex said...

Br Charles, I understand you are trying to be shticky and incorporate humor during the rehearsal (and kudos for that, since I'm sure the groom's nervous-meter is usually set to "high" there). But I don't think joking that going to church the next day is "bad news". This simply reinforces the stereotype the outside world thinks of Catholics (i.e. that we HAVE to go to church, not because we want to or choose to). Let me propose a new tactic;

"Hello ladies and germs, I've got some good news, some bad news and an opportunity for you;

The good news is as nervous as we are today, tomorrow when I see you all here again back at church everyone here, especially the bride and groom, will be saying, "pshh, piece of cake. Been there, done that..."

The bad news is, I don't want anyone here thinking the communion wine is the "hair of the dog". So, however all of you choose to celebrate tomorow's wonderful occasion tonite, remember whos example we aspire to follow. Being Christian is a full time job.

Now, the opportunity is...(and loved the rest of what you said here word for word).

Brother Charles said...

Good qualification, QR. I should be careful not to give into a worldly spirit on that one. Thanks for the adjustments!

Dymphna said...

I agree with Penny--what a great gift God has given you! If only the entire wedding guest congregation could hear that homily and be given the opportunity for confession before the nuptial Mass.