Enter The Priesthood

The Catholic Church in the United Kingdom are on a bit of a recruitment drive to increase the number of priests.

PriesthoodPeople in Western society these days – by and large – are educated to a higher standard, their lives are easier and less doom-laden with threats of war, disease, and aristocratic purging whims, and religion is less the central point of their lives. For the great majority – over ninety-nine hundredths – of those who still proclaim to be religious, the proclamation itself is nothing more than a ritual (this vague statistic is supplied courtesy of My Head). Sure, some of those religious people may go to church every week but how many spend the entire time thinking "God’s watching me! God’s watching me! The urge to pick my nose is a test!" or even listen to any of the sermons they’ve all heard a thousand times before instead of merely letting the words wash over them and repeat back the responses automatically? It’s a trick question, of course: thinking doesn’t enter into religious practice. If it did, religion would never have gotten off the drawing board.

Subsequently, while those who say they are religious and believe in God may be about as depressingly high as it seems to always have been, the subset who are prepared to devote time to their religion, to answer some hallucinatory call to serve, and to give up any part of their comfortable lives in favour of one of deserved, intellectual ridicule is tellingly and reassuringly dwindling. The common sense genetic trait is winning the evolutionary battle over the moron mutation.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to help the church. I was raised Roman Catholic and educated privately in a Catholic school by an order of monks, and they did so in such an admirable way that I was able to reject the whole notion of religion as infantile twaddle; a relic of a less developed mind and some perverse necessity to control. Additionally, there are still plenty of people who are susceptible to the religious grasp that aims to answer all your questions by not answering them in the slightest, waggling the fingers, making ooh noises, and mixing the words "faith", "God", "mysteries", and "tax-exempt" into new and exciting sentences. For those people and to thank Roman Catholicism for the great job it did with me:

Become A Catholic Priest

Looking for a new career with global leadership opportunities? Are you ready to make the ultimate commitment? Or do people often remark that you should be committed? Can you keep secrets? Are you predisposed BECOME A PRIEST to subliminal BECOME A PRIEST messaging? Most importantly: are you a man? Then may I recommend the Catholic Church Priesthood?

Flattering Uniform!
Black looks great on everyone and everyone looks great in black so you’ll be as pleased as Lazarus right before Pilate instigated his concentration camp for zombies policy when you step into your priestly outfit. Black shoes, black trousers, and black shirt, accented with a flattering white dog collar that not only visibly slims even the most portly of priests, but also gets you premium seating on buses and trains. Black cassocks are optional but oh-so-comfy. On church days it’s on with the official vestments. Okay, they’re not black, but they’ve been designed with comfort in mind and the free-flowing form hides a multitude of sins. Not from God, though.

If you like your wine red-coloured and watery then you’re in luck because all the red-coloured, watery wine you can drink is yours for free! Remember: until you transmutate the wine into the Blood of Christ using the Secret Special Prayer you’ll learn on the amazing Catholic Church Priesthood course, it’s just normal wine! That’s right! You can use it at parties, add it to casseroles, or just enjoy it with your feet up in front of the TV. Never pay for alcohol again!

Free House!
The global credit crunch hasn’t just hurt the poor banks and financial institutions; regular people, too, have suddenly found they actually need money to buy things like new cars, expensive holidays, and flashy jewellery. Moving out of the parents’ house has become almost impossible for first-time buyers who aren’t also experts at bank heists. You could wait for more houses to be built by the next influx of immigrants or you could give up eating and save your wages for nine years to build up a large enough deposit for your dream hovel. Or … you could become a Catholic priest! Every priest gets his own church. Fashionable stained-glass windows, real wood and stonework throughout, plenty of space, and built-in entertainment centre comes as standard. Assuming you find organs entertaining.

No More Moths!
Finally, if you’re one of those people bothered by moths on a regular basis then what do you think is the one profession that guarantees fewer moth-related incidents than any other? It’s not nuclear technician: those moths kill! It’s not dental hygienist either: you’d be surprised where moth larvae hide. The answer is the priesthood, Catholic-style. Moths are drawn to flames and old ladies and as a Catholic priest you’ll find yourself surrounded by both lepidopteran-attractants on a daily basis. Be the calm eye of the moth hurricane when you say mass as a Catholic priest.

Author: Mark

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  1. Oh dear, your post is bound to stir trouble amongst the unthinking zealots out there. I predict a great wailing will ensue, and you will be struck down with unproven arguments, and claims of unwavering vehemence but no substance. You naughty heathen!

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  2. But … but … but … I’m only trying to help!

    I was even going to produce a poster with a picture of a priest baptising a baby and the slogan: "Join The Catholic Church. For those who don’t mind touching children!"

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  3. Transubstantiation! The wonderful gift a priest has. If you stand in the street and shout ‘behold – this potato has changed into the knee of Mohammed’ you’d be laughed at (or bombed if you’re in Basra). But wear a ‘womanly’ gown and stand up on stage in front of 100 old people and you can turn any food stuff into sacred body parts… )Count me in – I’d like to turn a lamb tikka balti into Rachel Weisz.)

    (PS – Did you know that in early Christianity they used Marmite in the transubstantiation ceremony but this was removed when people baulked at eating ‘the diarrhoea of Christ’.)

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  4. I think I’d prefer the lamb tikka balti but I’m weird like that

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  5. No word of a lie, I had a dream last night about people trying to recruit me as a priest. I was bollock naked and they said it was fine as that’s normal dress. It was fucking mental.

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  6. I’d like to eat lamb tikka balti that was smeared on Rachel Weisz.

    Damn – impure thoughts, now I’m going to have to flagellate myself…

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  7. I think if you are not aroused by little boys you can’t get into the Church. Or Neverland Ranch.

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  8. At Easter last month, I overheard a woman walking with crying child proclaim, "If you don’t shut up, the Easter Bunny won’t bring you any candy!" It made me reflect on these mythologies we’ve devised to make people act the way we want them to, like Santa Claus and God. At some point, a thinking person has to acknowledge that these things don’t exist. Even if they did, there could be only one true set of values (made up by some guy on shrooms centuries ago) that could possibly hold any salt, so to speak, and everyone else is doomed. Since the major religions will alter their doctrines at the slightest embarrassment, this could only mean that some small New Guinea tribe is more likely to have it right. In any event, I’m not willing to piss my life away worrying about it (beyond this comment).

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  9. Oh bloody hell! You do feel strongly about it, don’t you? Still, with a similar background, I can’t help but empathize. Nevertheless, I state, categorically, that the "faith" you were sold seems to have been "blind" faith, a disaster in any situation.

    However, Life must have taught you that in most circumstances, faith in anything (e.g. Man U. qualifying for the Champions League) is based upon data and results, with faith beginning small and increasing in an upward spiral interacting with proof.

    So-called "Spirituality" is no different.

    There can be proof, there can be results…and those results may even be impartial and scientifically verified (e.g. Yogis who say that matter follows Spirit, being able to virtually stop their breathing/eating/sleeping etc. over days/weeks/months, making a mockery of medical stats).

    Unfortunately, while it may sound elitist, it was Jesus, himself, who is supposed to have said: "Many are called but few are chosen." Christianity has used that statement as a threat…but the truth is, it’s just a fact of Life. There is a bell curve at play in everything and only a few can ever be at the top (I should know, I’ve seen several series of Australian Idol!).


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  10. Far from blind faith, the education both Math and I received was very enlightening. Even though it was a Catholic school run by brothers we were taught comparative religions and even had pointed out to us all the many, many inconsistencies in the Bible. One brother even stated on one occasion something similar to: "there are historical facts in the Old Testament but essentially it is a collection of moral guides and tales passed on by word of mouth at a time when writing was uncommon, and so should not be taken to be accurate accounts. As for the New Testament; well, the content’s been cherry-picked over the centuries so, again, learn from it as a guide but don’t simply accept it as being a true telling of what happened." He, or another brother, then went on to tell us about all the other contradictory gospels that were deemed too hot for publication and gave us a rundown of dates of publication to make sure we understood these weren’t on-the-spot journalistic scribblings.

    You should have seen by Irish Catholic mum’s face on the day I came home and told her all that. Almost as good as the day I walked up to my local priest – about 6 months after confirmation – and asked "If I’m a good person is there any real reason I actually need to come to church every week? Seems a bit pointless." He said no. I told my mum I wasn’t going anymore and she said "Well, if you’re not going then I’m not going either." Thus began the end of my family’s flirtation with God.

    Now, as for your statement that faith in anything is based upon data and results … ooh, no. I can trust the results. I can have confidence in what may happen given a set of circumstances based upon previous tests or experiences. While I might say that "I have faith that this will happen because of that" I’d like to distance myself from the word faith because it’s too open for confusion, deliberate or otherwise. My definition of faith and yours or those of a religious persuasion is different and should be avoided. Faith cannot be justified or explained. To even attempt to would destroy it by its very definition. Of course, that’s logic speaking there, and logic seldom enters any conversations where faith rears its head.

    Spirituality is very different to the scientific, reasoned process. Spirituality is not very different to hope or irrational wishing. When something strange happens (any physical or mental event), Science analyses it, theorises, and tests to find out what happened, why, and whether this presents any more questions. Spirituality, on the other hand, rubs its hands, exclaims "Awesome! Let’s put that one down to God then!", and moves on to the next big thing to ignore.

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  11. I’m cheering you on wildly until your last two paragraphs when you appear (to me) to become horribly confused. Perhaps it’s just the word "faith", which I ascribe nothing to other than its very basic meaning, which, to me, is an increasing trust (driven by observable results) that doing X will create Y.

    Manchester United, by investing in young players will gain a Top 4 position in the EPL and reach the Champions League. The extra revenue from participation in the CL will enable them to purchase new players etc. Consequently, I have faith that they will probably remain successful for quite some time.

    I return to "blind faith". Without practical results e.g. from monastic privations, kung-fu training etc…any debate is just "believing" or not "believing". No-one can become a brain surgeon without a great deal of hard work and to discuss "faith" or whatever you wish to call it, is futile.

    Your definition of "spirituality" is radically different to mine, which has nothing to do with hope and everything to do with observable results. Perhaps that is the root of our (reasonably minor) disagreement. We are taling about completely different concepts.

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  12. Those who cling to religion would be alcoholics or drug addicts if they had no religion.

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  13. ADG:

    When I generally use "faith" in conversation I’m using the same meaning you’re describing; that hope and expectation that something will happen based on previous events. I don’t really want to use it here though in case it gets confused with the religious version of faith; that being assumption without evidence or questioning.

    Our definitions of spirtuality do differ, clearly. Spirituality embraces that religious faith to me. There are no observable results that lead to this spiritual belief. "I prayed and then my sick dog got better. Prayer works." These are two disparate events. Praying occurred. The dog got better. The scientist sees this and says "Are they related? Is one dependant on the other? Let’s find out." The spiritual person just accepts it, either wholeheartedly or little-by-little over time. But the problem is, it’s a false acceptance. It all comes back to your "blind faith". There’s no difference.

    You mentioned the Yogis who astound medical science. Yes, they do astound in some cases. But, when science doesn’t work out what’s happening, science doesn’t stop questioning and looking into it. Religion does and starts offloading the "miracle" onto the mystical plane.

    So … that’s why I don’t like your definition of spirituality. It looks to me like you’re trying to tie it in with the scientific process when it clearly is nothing of the sort, instead merely borrowing some of science’s techniques and wrapping it around that core of blind faith again. It’s like creationists coming up with ID and trying to pass it off as science as well; it’s not. There’s no scientific theory to test or observe. It’s merely language-stealing where the only intelligent designing going on is the design to confuse.

    Ole Blue:

    It would be interesting to compare global figures for deaths through religion, alcohol, gambling, and drugs to see which addiction was the least expensive. You might even get doctors telling patients: "well, I’m going to start you on a course of Las Vegas for a couple of months and then we’ll see about getting that gin drip put in."

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  14. As a bit of an aside, I wonder sometimes whether scientific theories are a kind of ‘faith’ in science. For example, the existence of p-branes might explain why gravity is such a weak force in our universe, but there may be other explanations that we just haven’t thought of yet.

    I guess the difference is that science should always be open to new ideas and welcome challenges to existing theories – sadly that is not always the case and scientists can be as protective of their scientific ‘beliefs’ as religious types are of theirs. A fundamental human trait perhaps?

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  15. I’m not sure it’s a fundamental trait; it may be deeply ingrained but nothing a good whacking about the head can’t get out given enough time.

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  16. Mark,

    Unfortunately, with much in agreement, we meet an impasse.

    Re Yogis: They perform physical feats that make a mockery of normal, recognized human capabilities. The yogis usually say that the "feat" is nothing, it’s merely a by-product of privations, and the gift of Spirit, God etc.

    The scientists scratch their heads and say it’s not possible, despite their result.

    We humans, either accept what the yogis say or dismiss them as nutters. Fair enough.

    However, from personal experience of what can happen via privations (I’ve studied Yoga, Kung Fu & meditation for many years), I "get" some of the lower statements that monks, gurus, saints etc. say.

    I don’t "get" the full mystical bits…but if they’re right at the lower levels, they may well be right at the higher levels. That’s where Trust comes in. You need proof, otherwise it’s all nonsense and fairy stories. So, I trust a bit and have "some" faith. Perhaps, in time, I’ll have more. Who knows?

    However, I think we agree on one thing, which is that Faith, as claimed by most people is Tribalism and ugly Tribalism at that.


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  17. Fair enough. Religious arguments are always going to be problematic if either side actually expects the other will suddenly "see the light" (to coin a phrase) and come around to his/her senses.

    In the red corner you’ll always have the person who wants an explanation and wants to explain the explanation and won’t settle for anything less.

    In the blue corner you’ll always have the person who – at some point along the way – is happy to make that leap away from the explicable and into the mystical.

    Even when it comes to arguing the sides in religion there’ll be the person who thinks "if I can just explain this well enough and cover all the gaping voids with logic then he must be able to see what’s wrong" trying to counter the other who thinks "if I can just demonstrate that there’s a level you can reach and then anything beyond that must be the work of a higher power …"

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  18. Beautifully put. We shall agree to disagree and have a cyber beer…as there are too many thing worth having a laugh about.


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