Bringing ‘Em Back in the Door

Bob and Steve, here.

Well, here we are in month nine of the “three-week shut down.”

We at the OC have been working hard to find some way to poke fun at the pandemic with our usual light-hearted banter, but this topic has been incredibly difficult to write on. How does anyone find humor in a pandemic that has claimed the lives of many while tearing worldwide social fabrics and sending the global economies akilter? We don’t shy away from difficult problems, so we launched Operation WARPED SCREED1 to find a humorous way out of this mess in under one year. We are pleased to announce that after spending countable dollars and thousandths of hours, we have charted a route towards sanity with a layover at Luna Sea.

While bureaucrats, technocrats and loonicrats manipulate numbers and public sentiment, we’re left figuring out what to do about Mass – now that in most places we’re allowed to have people in the pews. But not all the pews. Because they’re only pews, and they don’t provide the protection that you’d have at, say, a restaurant or a public protest, but we digress.

Anywho, to greater or lesser extent, depending on your local politician, you can have people in your pews. The trick is the “people” part. How do we get them back? We have to look at some of the fringe benefits that people have become accustomed to from the shut down – as if there can ever be a “fringe benefit” to being cut off from the body, blood, soul and divinity of our Lord and Savior – but if that’s the hand we’re dealt by politicians and bishops, so be it.

For starters, we’ve all come to enjoy “homily hopping”– watching a full online mass followed by one or more different homilies. Returning to Church doesn’t mean we should be duped into settling for just one homily option. That is so 2019. How would this work with in-person Mass? We’re glad you ask…

We’re sure you’re all breathlessly awaiting the unveiling of our previously introduced, and widely acclaimed, “TrinityTron” concept. It’s now in beta testing and soon to be available at a sanctuary near you (with a simple monthly subscription or discounted yearly plan for those bargain hunters out there!) Our early prototypes were installed in the stained-glass windows – but that was old-school and would never support the 187-homilist variety we’ve all come to enjoy. We’ve moved to VR – everyone receives a headset2 (properly sanitized of course) – and can then select and hop between the homilist(s) of their choice in full virtual reality. Enjoy the experience of being front and center with Fr. Mike from Ascension. And there’s this bonus – the headset also acts as a face mask.

During our lockdown we conducted exhaustive research and discovered that approximately 7% of Catholics haven’t been to Reconciliation in 2020.3 We’re sure there’s a huge backlog of transgressions needing confessin’. Naturally, we’re on the case to find the win-win solution. If the first thing that popped into your head was “volume discounts”, well you might be as warped as us! We’re currently developing programs such as “Confess 3, Get the 4th One Free” and the “5% off your penance” coupons handed out at Mass.4 At Reconciliation, Father gives the penance of “attend in-person Mass.” Properly leveraged, the confessional booth can drive Mass attendance and vice-versa. You might even say there’s a synergy5 between them.

Another benefit we’ve grown to appreciate is the freedom from strict schedules. Steve likes a 9:48 Mass but Bob prefers the 11:09 Mass. Nothing beats a Mass that starts when you’re ready. No, we haven’t figured out how to bend time, so we came up a workable alternative– bending our norms. We propose a continuous Mass on Sundays– come anytime and leave where you came in. By changing one line from “The Mass is ended; go in peace” with “Mass will continue after the MusicalPews® hymn”, the Mass can run continuously. Nobody will miss the greeting: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”, or the dismissal: “May almighty God bless you, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” And maybe the parking lot will become a blessed experience.6

This next strategy is in keeping with the progressive element in the country- offer free money. We call it the Reverse Collection. Here’s how it works: the parish “seeds” the collection basket with 5 one dollar bills and 2 five dollar bills, then starts passing the basket. Parishioners are encouraged to put in or take out according to their means or needs. You keep passing the basket and when it comes back the basket will be overflowing and will fill several bushel baskets. How does it work you ask? Well, it’s sort of like the miracle of the five loaves and two fish. It only works, though, if everyone involved has faith. Otherwise, you end up with an empty basket, or no basket at all (it ends up on Ebay). In that case, we call it the Bernie Collection.

Of course, we want to do our part to capitalize on the Wuhan virus. Strike that. We want to do our part to address the Wuhan virus. Vaccinations for everyone! But not just any vaccination. We’ll be offering the Catholic upgrade with regular booster shots (yours with a simple monthly subscription or discounted yearly plan for those bargain hunters out there). CathoVax® (VatiVax® in Europe and MaoVax® in Asia) protects you not only from the Wuhan bug, it will also inoculate you against CHDM (chronic-homily-boredom-disorder), TAS (tithing-aversion-syndrome) and DDD (Dine and Ditch Disorder).

All vaccinations, of course, offer a range of upgrades available as booster shots:

  • Catholic behavior modification – helps you to read the bible, go to confession, vote pro-life.
  • Catholic cortisone – helps you bend your knees to kneel.
  • Vati-valium – to help drain your wallet.
  • Merry-marijuana – to help with “Catholic guilt.”

Still looking for that extra little bonus to get you back through the door? We know you’re accustomed to rolling out of bed and into virtual Mass – enjoy that same feeling of hominess with our pajama-party themed liturgies. Let’s face it, a robe and slippers are little different from much of the Mass attire these days, and combined with our La-Z-boy® Pews (for a modest extra donation), you’ll feel right at home.

1 screed- (noun): a long speech or piece of writing, typically one regarded as tedious.

2 just like those little golf pencils in the pews at pledge time, you can’t keep them!

3 We’re highly skeptical of that 7% number, but the Pennsylvania Secretary of State insists it’s right.

4 limit 5 per Reconciliation.

5 sin-urgy? Bless me Father for I have punned.

6 well, we can dream about it being less of a burden.

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