February 19, 2010
Three Priests walk into a ancient presbetery…. And the jokes abound
We had a dinner party and invited Pere Phillip from the church across the street. Then we had the idea to also invite the young priest from Rocamador at the same time, and a few friends in common to fill the table. Then Pere Phillip showed up with a young seminarian and the party was set!
Starting, in French tradition, with cocktails and snacks and an opportunity for everyone to get acquainted, we moved to the table at about 9 pm. Everything was great, good food, fun company, polite stories, even Oscar was present and engaged (one never knows at this age). As the wine continued to flow and everyone got more comfortable with the mix, Oscar left the room…somewhere around the cheese course and the conversations got amusing. Have you ever wondered what clergy talked about behind closed doors??
The subject of callings came and passed, miraculous moments in everyone’s lives, then first times… it seemed a favorite was first funerals… one who couldn’t recall the name of the deceased…..another where a surviving sister kept farting during the priests most important words, throughout the funeral. Complaints about cold churches and tiny congregations, the needy parishioners in the summer, one quote about a host wafer and lipstick (“look out Jesus…wet-paint”) and the funny papal experiences and even a story about a napkin stuck in the priests zipper during a wedding!!
I don’t mean to say there was any disrespect, or lack of decorum, but there was a fair amount of peeking behind the curtain going on. While I would have called two of these men friends before dinner, now I feel they are a bit closer, as if they had let their collars down (although they hadn’t) they revealed they are just like anyone else, another profession, but one with humor and joy and faults and triumphs just the same.
As I write this I think of the clergy I have known in my life, and of course they are normal people! I have sat in pews with them but I have also been friends outside of their churches and temples….I’m not certain of the difference, somehow the clergy
in France seems a bit further removed from the people. Walking about town in long black robes, always in stiff collars, perhaps it’s the particular youth of the local priests, perhaps it has more to do with my expectations of all things French?? Another stereotype smashed on the medieval cobbles of Martel!
The dinner was fun, a terrine of carrots and broccoli, beef bourguignon inspired by a recent viewing of Julia and Julie, 3 soft cheeses followed, and then a 4th in the form of a lemon cheesecake recipe gleaned off the web. Coffee and house-made chocolates to finish. If I had been frencher, I would have followed with eau de vie, but there were too many long drives ahead of our guests so I sat on my hands at that point, but kept my elbows above the table (another French politeness).
I slept restlessly, dreaming that I had given food poisoning to 3 priests and how would that look to St Peter!? But I awoke, as usual, to the church bells and the sunshine, and the certainty that all’s well except a sink full of dishes.