Les gens qui ne rient jamais ne sont pas des gens sérieux

Be who you are and say what you mean, those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind

Thursday, January 18, 2007


The doorbell rang and we looked at each other.

Marek went to answer it, and I hovered, nervously.

Marek followed the young priest in, who greeted me with some blessing-like saying. I realised I didn't have a clue what I was supposed to say in response, so I muttered and stammered under my breath. This was not going well so far. I took a deep breath.

He came into the sitting room and saw the table, which Marek had prepared with the candles, cross and holy water. 'I see you're all ready' he said, smiling, and made the sign of the cross.

Now, most Church of England-ites don't make the sign of the cross, and to be honest I feel stupid, almost blasphemous, doing it, especially in my sitting room, so I didn't. I didn't want to feel like I was playing a part. Also, when the priest and Marek started saying the Lord's Prayer aloud, I thought my voice chiming in with the English words might throw them off their stride so I kept my mouth shut and made do with bending my head.

Another prayer, and the priest blessed the flat with the holy water and that little mini wand-like thing (I am sorry, I have no idea what they're called). I looked on, listening and learning.

If the priest was thrown by my weird behaviour he hid it well. There was however, a look of sudden realisation that spread across his face when Marek mentioned that I was English. It didn't take him long to cut to the chase. A couple of questions about whether I liked Poland and then,

'Are you two married?'

I left the question and answer session to Marek, who by the time the priest asked 'but is it forever?' was practically squirming on his seat. He did well, poor lad, and steered the priest round to practical considerations. The priest did his best to brush them out the way though.

'Oh, no it's no problem if you decided to marry in a Catholic church. We just need a certificate that Pani has been baptised in England, and Pani has to sign a decleration saying that she will not stop Pan from practising as a Catholic, and if you have children, that Pani will not stop them from being Catholic, if Pan wants them to be.' I saw an opportunity for argument at that last point, but let it go.

After a bit of small talk about the flat, our jobs and, rather bizarrely, the Vietnamese people who live in the flats nearby, the priest left us. He invited us to the church across the road, and all my urges to probe at the problems I have with the Catholic church faded slightly, with his cheery goodwill.

Another thing. I'd heard that it was expected for money to be given, but Marek really had to force it on him, and that gave him extra points in my book.

I almost felt positively warm and fuzzy about the Catholic church.

Still, if the feeling fades he'll be in the building for another couple of hours doing his rounds. I can watch for him leaving and shout 'what about homosexuality?' and 'why shouldn't women be allowed in the clergy?' from the balcony.


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Blogger Krista said...

The Greek Orthodox church also has a parallel practice of blessing homes of followers. I distinctly remember rolling my eyes when the priest came to my mother's home to do it as a teenager. As a *slightly* more mature adult,I now think there's something comforting about shooing the evil spirits away. I mean, why not?

11:45 pm  
Blogger Aaron Fowles said...

I remember sitting in a very small room in Kazimierz Dolny with a very sheepish young priest. He had a questionnaire and ran through the questions. It got a bit confusing at first and I wasn't sure how to answer. I think I might have said the wrong thing because the day before the service, another priest said to Agata, "To jest Pani slub."

12:13 am  
Blogger Becca said...

I know what you mean Krista. It's a nice tradition really. The fact that it's our first flat and everything does make it a bit special (she admits grudgingly)

You got married in Kazimierz Aaron?

8:44 am  
Anonymous szwed said...

What about homosexuality, Becca?

11:56 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

becca the church is not only about homosexuality ,lol.

2:57 pm  
Anonymous szwed said...

On a related note, I can just picture it: a foreign woman screaming "what about homosexuality!?" from a balcony in the middle of Warsaw. Priceless.

8:43 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I got to your blog through a comment on and found it so amusing:)

I am really surprised you answered such intrusive questions so patiently. Wow. My family aren't religious we never had kolęda, I never realised priests could ask you things like that. I thought they talk more like about weather and stuff.

And as a gay guy I thank you for being ready to stand up for us;))


11:55 pm  

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