Wednesday, September 19, 2007


I forgot how to go to the bank.

I am not kidding.

I do most of banking either on line (something I am opposed to in principle) or through a machine (yet something else that I am opposed to at least in theory) so when I have to go to an actual bank and meet an actual person to do an authentic bank transaction outside of my little ream of knowledge I become an absolute boob.

Wednesday I had to go to the bank to get either a cashier’s check or certified check or some such think for – uhm - a reason - * ahem * - (Okay! I got a ticket when I was in New York – there. I said it!) and wasn’t exactly sure what I was supposed to do. But there was no avoiding this little excursion and so it was off to the bank.

Fortunately the bank was empty and after a twisted walk through the rope maze a distracted teller called me forward.

“Good morning,” I said.

“Good morning. May I help you?”

Being generally a snotty person, I remained silent until she looked up from her computer screen and actually looked at me. It was at that point that I realized that I really did not know what to ask. “I need some sort of check from the bank to pay a – uhm – bill that I have.” Heavy blush.

She breathed a deep sigh and ran through my options, which did not mean much to me until she told me the prices. That was clear. “I’ll take the cheap one.”

“Do you have a check?” she asked.

A check? I didn’t know I would need a check to get a check. I wondered what else I will need? Do I need my bankbook? (Do they even have bankbooks anymore?) “Oh, I don’t have one.”

She scooted her glasses down her nose and peered over them. “You don’t have a check with you?”

“No.” I felt about three years old.

“Well, if you have ID, I can do a (she mentioned some sort of) check for you.”

I think it was at this point that she realized how completely helpless I was and became a very nice and helpful person and the great state of New York can cross one more ne’er-do-well off of their list.

Now, walking out of the bank I thought, “I’m glad THAT’S over! I hope I never have to do THAT again.”

Then I had an epiphany. I wonder if this is what it is like for someone who has been away from the Church for a long time and suddenly finds himself at mass. As I mentioned yesterday about making (what I thought was a very clear) announcement before communion at weddings and funerals about who should receive and who should not, people still come forward all the time that I wonder if they should. I say, “Body of Christ,” and non-practicing Catholics do one of the following:

Smile and shrug their shoulders.
Ask, “What?”
Say, “Sure.”
Say, “Body of Christ,” and make no sign that they are going to receive.
Say, “I’ll take one.”
Stand there mute.

It can be a very uncomfortable moment. Too bad it got that far. I wonder how many people walk out of the Church thinking, “I’m glad THAT’S over. I hope I never have to do THAT again.”

So that got me wondering, what would have made me more at ease at the bank?

First would have been a teller who was more attentive, directional, and kind. So, maybe I need to give more clear direction during my masses.

Second would have been to have a friend with me who knew the ropes and who would have guided me through. So I encourage you to at least offer to help relatives and friends who are not Catholic or do not practice, with whom you are close, particularly at weddings and funerals to know what to do at mass.

Thirdly, banks have information pamphlets. Many times at weddings and funerals people produce programs with lists of characters and music credits. Most of the time they are pretty useless except in the summer when the air-conditioning is not working well (that is just personal opinion). Perhaps they could become true worship aids a part of which would be to help non-practicing Catholics know what’s coming up and what they should do. Maybe. Perhaps.

And lastly, when in New York on Route 3 going through the military base and they ask you to reduce your speed to 45 for that eighth of mile, do it. They mean it.


Anonymous said...

You didn't have your collar on either time, did you -- not in NY nor at the bank. When stopped in a potential ticket time, the obviously clerical you just need to blink in astonishment, wave your arms and say, "Oh my, I'm sorry --I was distracted by.. by all this!" That's not a fib, really.. just a loophole in which to save $140 from flying out of your pocket. A collar at the bank while smiling and shrugging helplessly will bring a sweet smile of gratitude to those who'll know that you aren't the worldly type, and no doubt, folks will fall all over themselves to assist you.

(If you say your collar was visible in one or both those locations, I'm just gonna have to change my fibbing ways!)

Good points, tho'. Years ago, it was always a little embarrassing to tell this or that teen coming to Mass with us that he/she could not come up to Communion with us, but that was back when the priests also never said anything about turning off cell phones and blackberries. It was stated in the back of the Missal cover, but a teen wouldn't have seen it. They were always ok with it - as long as we told them before we got to Mass.

As for those Catholics who've been away for so long that they can't imagine receiving Him in their hand.. and I would rather they didn't have to.. they need to go to Confession first anyway, and when the priest hears how long it's been, he will likely indicate the (yes--great idea, Fr. V) pamphlets that tell our returned siblings everything they need to know before receiving tomorrow, pamphlets which are likely located in the parish hall and out in the foyer as well. Maybe. And of course a priest can announce a little reminder about the matter from the sanctuary.


Anonymous said...

Off the subject--I like your new header picture of the Pope having a pint--very nice. Sorry you got a ticket--don't they let you pay with a credit card?

Rob said...

Priests can't have credit cards! Canon law forbids usury!


MJ said...

OK! You said before when you were stopped with your collar on and they didn't give you a ticket that you wished they would have because you deserved it!! Be careful what you wish for!!!!

John14:15 said...

Dear Fr V
First time visitor to your blog -- found you on the diss-list on SOV2. Excellent posts on the bank and Mass disconnects and on evangelizing. Thanks! I'll be back. But Cleveland... isn't that 129 miles from Pittsburgh?

Fr. V said...


Welcome. 129 miles from Pittsburg on the road - a second in cyberspace. ;>)