I WAS ALSO AN ALTAR SERVER. I was pretty good at it- I was the only kid in the parish who didn’t pretend to get high whenever they were serving with the incense, so that was always my job at the masses where it was used.
Until I almost killed the bishop.
Then, for some reason, they didn’t let me serve anymore…
Ok, so once I was an altar server at a confirmation, which is a sacrament that REQUIRES a bishop. Since I was the only altar server who wasn’t a total jackass with the incense in that i didn’t pretend to be high, they had me in charge of it. That meant I had to light it. But the lighting process was… difficult. See, we had this really, really shitty thurible. If you’ve never heard that word before, a thurible is a metal ball with holes in it, and it’s on a chain- you put the incense in there and a charcoal briquette and then you swing it back and forth to get air flow. But our thurible didn’t have enough air holes that you could gently rock it back and forth. I was taught to light the thing by swinging it. Hard. So I took it out into the vestibule before people got there and I’m swinging it like some kind of feral gibbon because this incense won’t fucking light. I wasn’t paying attention to what’s behind me- I’m trying to light this incense in a corner by myself, away from where people should be. What I didn’t realize is that the bishop was coming up to say hello, until it was too late. There was a THUNK and a THUD and I turn around because oh my god I’ve hit somebody. The bishop’s behind me. His head is split open and there’s blood everywhere. He’s kind of standing there in shock, and that’s when the deacon comes out. He sees me standing there, he sees the bishop, who’s found a seat, and he just goes “I’ll call your father.”
Now at the time, my old man was the only craniofacial surgeon within about ninety miles, so the deacon calls him while I’m panicking. "Doc, there’s been an accident,” he says, and my dad, as he tells it, knew I was the source of the disaster. (I mean, this wasn’t even a decade after I’d set the altar at a different church on fire- I do not have a good track record with sacraments.)
So we get the bishop carted away and it turns out that he’s lost a LOT of blood and has a concussion because he took a ten-pound metal ball to the face. So he can’t serve Mass, but this is a Big Problem. My tiny town has four Catholic parishes, plus a fifth Catholic church that doesn’t really have a parish body but does have a priest. Catholicism is HUGE where I grew up. They couldn’t just cancel confirmation. Fortunately, my town is- well, was, he’s dead now- home to the previous bishop, who was in his 80s and retired. Deacon called him up and explained what had happened and he came in and did the Mass.
The kicker? I still had to serve. They didn’t have anyone else available. So I just sort of stood there, traumatized by what I’d done, holding the weapon and listening to the retired bishop talking about how to be a good Catholic. Pretty sure step one is don’t hit bishops in the face with a ball of metal.
I was reading this whole thing with an image of a small jingle bell / conker sized ball in mind and was thinking “Well that can’t be that bad right?” then 10 pound ball was mentioned so I googled
Bad very bad and GIANT ball thing. Haha
This is a really fancy thurible!
These are a little more average.
Here’s the pope with one, to give you an idea of scale!
Who knew thuribles could be weapons of Mass destruction?