“Well, the good Lord did invent humor.” I vaguely recall Fr. Mulcahy saying that once on MASH after someone apologized to him for cracking a joke. Fictional TV characters aside, priests are people too. While their primary job is to lead us to Jesus, it’s also okay for priests to be funny.
To give you a lighthearted break from your daily grind, I have compiled a summary of the some of the funniest things I’ve heard priests say over the years.
Licensed to Drive
A priest shared an amusing story about a brush with the law many years ago. He was pulled over by a police officer late on a Saturday night for drifting out of his lane. The priest admitted that he was distracted. But you’ll never guess what he was doing. Texting? No. Talking on the phone? Not a chance. Dozing off? Certainly not. Drinking and driving? No way.
He was reading the Bible while driving. He had the Bible right there on the steering wheel and was glancing up and down while driving. Or maybe he had one eye on the road and one eye on the good book. He said he was returning home late from a trip and hadn’t had time to prepare for the next morning’s Mass. Is DUIP (driving under the influence of prayer) a crime?
Peeking at Prayers
I’m a Catholic convert as of 2005. Within the first year or so, I felt like I was not doing an adequate job in learning some of the basic prayers. I felt inferior during Mass when everyone else seemed to know things like the Creed by heart while I had to cheat and read it out of the book.
So I went to confession and told the priest that I was having trouble with my prayer life because as a new Catholic I thought I should have already memorized more prayers. The priest responded, “Hey, I’m a priest and I still peek at the prayers during Mass.”
During Easter time I attended a daily Mass, and in the middle of the celebration the priest noticed that the he, or perhaps somebody else, had forgotten to light the paschal candle. So he paused and said, “You may have noticed that the paschal candle is not lit. Well, I’m not going to climb up there now and light it. So just pretend it’s lit.”
You-Know-Who Is on the Line
No matter how many times we are warned about silencing our cell phones in church, you can almost always count on someone’s phone ringing. While he never said this during Mass, one particular priest was not shy about his disdain for phone interruptions. If a phone happened to ring in the middle of a ministry meeting, he would say, “That better be God calling!”
Beat the Baptists
Another pet peeve is when people duck out of Mass before it’s actually over. One priest used to remind people about this often. One day in his homily he said, “I know you want to get out of here so you can beat the Baptists to lunch, but you really need to stay until the end.”
The Patron Saint of Punctuality
I’m a stickler for timeliness. So whenever anything doesn’t start on time, even Mass, I get antsy. At a daily Mass one day, the priest processed in about seven minutes late. He took his place at the altar and said, “I’m sorry for being late. I was talking to Sister [name withheld], and she would not shut up.”
Rest assured, the priest said this in a very humorous tone.
It didn’t sound like an original joke, but during a homily a priest told the story of a teacher who asked his class what the difference is between ignorance and apathy. Nobody in the class answered, so the teacher asked again. Finally, he singled out a student in the front row and asked one more time, “What’s the difference between ignorance and apathy?” The student replied, “I don’t know, and I don’t care.”
My family attended Christmas Mass at 10 a.m. last year, and I was scheduled to be an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion in the position next to the priest. My older daughter who was seven at the time wanted us to sit right in the front pew closest to the altar so she could watch me give Communion. That worked out well for her, but not so much for my younger daughter who was 13-months old at the time.
She really must have liked the Eucharistic prayer, because she joyfully and loudly babbled along with the priest. He glared at her a couple of times. (Sorry, Father!) To this day he still jokes with us about how my little one competed with him during Christmas Mass, and he lost.
Sharp Dressed Priest
Discussions about what’s appropriate to wear to Mass probably come up at every parish from time to time. During one such chat, a parishioner mentioned that he always wears a necktie. There were two priests involved in the conversation, so that got me thinking. I asked the priests, “Do you still remember how to tie a tie, or is that an unnecessary skill for a priest to retain?” Yes, they both still knew how. Interestingly enough, one of them said that when he was ordained he was tempted to rush out and burn all of his ties since he wouldn’t need them anymore. Instead, he donated them to charity.
Standing Room Only
When a priest’s ordination anniversary happened to fall on an upcoming Saturday, parishioners started quietly spreading the word for as many people as possible to show up for daily Mass that day. At this parish, daily Mass was held in a small chapel across the parking lot from the main church. There was always a good core of regular attendees at Saturday morning Mass. But the place wasn’t usually packed.
But on this day it was standing room only as a surprise for the pastor on his ordination anniversary. At the end of Mass, he thanked everyone for coming and started to say, “If I had known so many of you were going to be here today…”
At that point, I thought he was going to say he would have moved daily Mass into the main church to accommodate the crowd. He had a much funnier line:
“If I had known so many of you were going to be here today, I would have passed around the collection basket!”
Sounds like the opening line of a joke, but this was a real conversation: An elderly priest and a layperson walked into a room, and the layperson commented that the priest walks so fast that it’s hard to keep up with him. The priest replied, “I’m almost 85. I better hurry. I might not have much time.”