the cross we bear: the unbreakable bond of altar servers past

by katierearden

I remember the day I learned the thing that makes two people bond together like absolutely nothing else. What is it, you ask? Could it be a love for the same niche 1980’s anime? Perhaps a shared bond over hatred for soup and all soup-like products? I guess these shared interests probably help some people in This World to bond with one another, but, none of them are the answer – no, the absolute perfect, pristine way to make an instant bond is much, much holier.That’s right my friends, the most perfect bond you could ever hope to achieve with a stranger comes from finding out that the both of you were altar servers at your local Catholic church! 

Bonding with someone who also went to Catholic school for the majority of their life is… pretty good. Bonding over the fact that your Moms share the same favorite hymn (On Eagle’s Wings, of course) is… even better. But holy shit, let me tell you that former altar servers are RARE. Once you find one of those rare human beings in the Outside World, your life will be forever changed. 

It is almost unbelievable to think thats there are others! Others who also begged their mom every week to call them in “sick” for the 7am mass on Tuesday, were afraid they were ringing the bell too loud as they sat there with incredibly sweaty palms, didn’t bring the priest the correct book and almost cried about it and put on a black robe just to find out that day was a special red robe day and shamefully turned around to change in the strange and moldy back room of the rectory. As a kid, I would never be caught talking to the other kids about altar serving! Why would you? It was just something your 5th grade teacher with a scary, raspy voice and your mom made you sign up for. 

And mom would never let you cancel, no matter how much you tried to manipulate her into doing it. The Ancient Catholic Art of forcing 10 year old children to light candles in a dark church at 6:30 in the morning as they are watched over by a frail woman with a long braid (that she never ever cut) who tells them they aren’t striking the matches the right way is just… the norm. I would have never thought to bring it up to anyone. It’s one of those things you never realize is weird until you’re older – it’s on the same level as eating the Body of Jesus every Sunday and never knowing what it feels like not to pray before you say the pledge of allegiance.

Looking back, 10 year old me never thought she would bond with anyone over being a candle-holding slave in an itchy robe. The things I talked to my friends about were probably like, “I was playing the Wheel of WOW on Webkinz and I was so happy!” and “Today, Dylan said he’d trade me two cat silly bands and a palm tree one for my flower and squirrel ones!” 

I guess you could say what I learned is: if you didn’t suffer through the task of altar serving, you are lucky – but, you also will never find a bond as unbreakable as that of two former altar servers

Categories: 8, katie rearden, wilt

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