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Friday, December 14, 2007

How chaplain gave new meaning to wine

Way back in secondary school, our school chaplain was a very interesting character when he expressed himself or displayed his most interesting shenanigans.

His voice for instance would boom during Sunday mass. "Then he took a cup, raised it, gave thanks and said, 'Take this all of you and drink from it'," he would say.

"This is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant; it will be shed for you and for all so that your sins may be forgiven. Do this in memory of me."

The way he talked, one would think he was imploring us to drink in memory of him and not the biblical son of our creator. Why we particularly liked our chaplain is that he himself relished sipping a bottle of gin.

It is because of this that we as well exercised our wistful curiosity to be like him. Sundays were glorious days because that was when we enjoyed partaking of the holy Eucharist, which was eating and drinking the body and blood of Christ. The procedure was that we would line up.

At the altar table, the cup of His 'blood' would shine down on us as if to say, "What are you waiting for lads?" We would amble our way to the altar, pick the sacred bread, dip it in the cup of wine, and mumble our prayers before traversing the way back to our seats.

The last guy in the queue was usually allowed to pour the remaining wine down his throat and eat all the remaining pieces of bread as well. Oh boy, there was comedy here.

The school clowns would almost clash in an attempt to be at the back. At one time, two drunken funny mates carelessly knocked over the holy cups and that marked the end of the comedy and the chaplain started feeding us instead.

Our chaplain was also obstinate and had somewhat of a cold side to him. Sometimes when preaching, he would note students who were absent minded. When it came to sharing the holy Eucharist, he would discreetly skip them. One time he skipped me and I thought that he had perhaps not seen me.

I jumped, shouting at the same time that he had skipped me. He looked at me with his small, dancing eyes before jumping to the next guy again. The laughter that followed was truly deafening.

Even some of the most ebullient of extroverts at school would pretend to be sober and sombre during mass when they were drunk but our dear chaplain would take note and skip them during Eucharist.

Whatever the case, the joy, fun and clownish drawling of our school chaplain truly gave meaning to our school times.

Published in Daily Monitor on January 26, 2004.