2019-02-20

Catholics are well known for enjoying laughing at themselves. There are very few people who like Catholic jokes more than Catholics, and social media has given Catholics the perfect way to share their ridiculous stories and humorous anecdotes with those who will understand. That understanding and ability to relate is essential for seeing the humor in many Catholic jokes. The story about the kid who dropped the Eucharist is a lot less funny if a person does not realize that Catholics cannot waste the Eucharist. The kid still had to eat it. Similarly, those who have never been to a Catholic High Mass might not see the humor in the antics of the little kid who knew he was supposed to sing when other people sang, but had never been to a High Mass, a Mass where just about everything is sung. These short, funny stories, however, have found a gleeful audience in the collective social media accounts of Catholics across the world. There are hundreds of amusing memes, stories and reaction gifs out there for Catholics, but here are a few gems.

Ash Wednesday Roulette 

On Ash Wednesday, many Catholics make it a point to attend Mass. One of the most distinctive parts of a Catholic Ash Wednesday Mass is when the priest draws a cross on parishioners’ foreheads with ashes, though some crosses look better than others given how many people the priest draws on.

This practice symbolizes how mankind will one day die and that people must repent from sin. Ashes can symbolize how mankind will “return to dust,” but they have also been a symbol of repentance for millennia. The Bible is filled with references to people who clothed themselves in sackcloth and ashes or sprinkled ashes on their heads as a sign of repentance and mourning. The ashes Catholics wear are a public admission of guilt, an expression of sorrow for the sins that a person has committed and a vow to reform their ways. Though ashes are used almost exclusively by Catholics today, it is from this practice that Ash Wednesday derives its name.  

Catholic Fidget Toys

On Palm Sunday, the last Sunday of the Lenten season, Catholics receive palm branches to use in various rituals throughout Mass. Parishioners carry them in a ritual procession into church and use them in reenactments of Christ’s Passion. The palms are blessed and saved throughout Holy Week. Old palms are not to be thrown away like trash as they have been blessed. Instead, they are to be gathered and burned at the church. The ashes will then be used to mark the beginning of next year’s Lent on Ash Wednesday.

Many Catholics fashion their palms into small palm crosses to keep as a symbol of devotion. Unfortunately, many Catholics like to work on these crosses before Mass or during lulls in the liturgy. Children and teens are especially likely to fiddle with their palms during Mass, especially if the service runs longer than usual. Siblings and friends often end up making a competition out of who can weave the best palm cross.

No One Noticed, Right?

In what may be a shock to many Protestants, Catholics are notorious for sneaking out of church half-way through Mass. For Catholics, Holy Communion and receiving the Eucharist is the high point of Mass. Once that is done, many feel that the purpose of Mass has been fulfilled. As such, many Catholics will leave Mass directly after Communion. They will take Communion and, instead of filing back to their seat, they will head out the back door. Catholics are split on this practice. Many people see no problem with leaving after Communion as not much happens afterwards. There is one more blessing, one more song, some announcements and a whole lot of people scrambling to get out of the church before the inevitable traffic jam forms in the parking lot. The most important parts of Mass have already taken place. Others feel that people should stay until the end. Mass is not yet done and a person should be willing to stay an extra few minutes and deal with the traffic for God. Regardless, Mass always seems suspiciously less crowded after Communion is done. 

Mass Happens More Than Twice a Year?

Catholic churches are always absolutely packed on Christmas and Easter. On one hand, this is not surprising since those are the two most important days on the Christian calendar. Most non-Catholics would assume Mass is more crowded simply because relatives who are visiting for the holidays came to Mass or that people prefer to take advantage of the unusual Mass times. Catholics, however, know that the influx of extra people is caused by all the C.E. Catholics coming out of the woodwork. To the bafflement of many Protestants, there is a huge population of Catholics who only attend Mass twice a year: on Christmas and Easter. These C.E. (Christmas and Easter) Catholics show up in force on those two days. As a result, Catholics, who are notorious for being habitually late to Mass, often try and get to Mass 30 minutes early to ensure they find a seat. Priests also often take advantage of the full house to remind C.E. Catholics that, yes, Mass takes place more than twice a year. 

No Peace For You

There is a point in every Catholic Mass where Catholics give each other “the sign of peace.” This is when Catholics turn to those around them and say “peace be with you” while shaking the other person’s hand or, if they know the person well, exchanging a hug. Every Catholic, however, has experienced the moment where they reach out to give someone the sign of peace and the other person reaches for someone else. The first person is left hanging. Half the time the person that ignored someone comes back to shake the first person’s hand, but that does nothing to help the awkwardness of standing there with a hand extended to open air…or a sibling snickering, “rejection.”

A sense of humor is one of the most important things a person can have, and Catholics are rarely shy about using theirs. From puns to jokes to memes, Catholics love a good laugh, and they are aware that they themselves can be great fodder for jokes. Far from being insulted, many Catholic jokes are created and shared by Catholics. Just tell any Catholic the joke about the new priest who drank vodka or the kid who said “it sure is dark in here.” A laugh is almost guaranteed. 

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