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liturgical olympics

Liturgical Olympics

liturgical olympics

My e-friend Fr Tim Schenck has written a wonderful post advocating Liturgical Olympics.

This could have

Thurible Twirling
Everybody loves the daring, gravity-defying thrills of freestyle skiing. Why not transfer this to the skills of our best thurifers? The possibility of setting things on fire adds to the danger of this exciting event. Thurifers show off their skills with 360s, around the worlds, figure eights, and even the newest move called the spinning nautilus. Extra points gained for smoking out any Protestant spectators.

Speed Mass
After the starting gun/sanctus bell, Celebrants compete to say the Eucharistic prayer and distribute communion as quickly as possible. Everyone begins with the altar set for communion, 100 communicants in (mostly) good standing, and one deacon. Giant running digital clock behind the altar allows spectators to track each competitor’s time. While this event is Rite II, the Liturgical Olympic Committee (LOC) is considering a switch to Rite I to watch Celebrants trip over the words “innumerable benefits procured unto us by the same.”

Acolyte Choreography
Acolytes must serve at a high mass without extraneous movements or fainting while using perfect form and correct manual acts. Additional points are awarded for singing the hymns and not falling asleep during the sermon. Points are subtracted for unruly hair, wearing sneakers, and getting wax on the cassock.

Changing the Worship Space
Participants are challenged to make a substantial change to the worship space and then suffer the wrath of parishioners. The losers either give in and change it back or go home and curl up in the fetal position. “Substantial change” may refer to the removal of flags from the sanctuary, repositioning the altar, or removing anything — no matter how ugly — donated by a current parishioner (i.e. the modern baptismal font, 1970s-style altar hangings, etc).

Endurance Preaching
The ultimate liturgical endurance test, preachers are set up in a pulpit and asked to preach extemporaneously on a surprise text for as long as possible. There are two ways to get disqualified. 1) Uttering the words “um,” “er,” “ah,” or any other vocal placeholder or extra long pause (judges’ discretion) 2) When the first spectator falls asleep. This is the least popular event to attend especially because smart phones and knitting are not allowed.

Coffee Hour
Participating clergy are thrown into a loud, crowded room with people drinking bad coffee out of styrofoam cups. They have 20 minutes to remember everyone’s name, have heart-felt pastoral conversations with long-time parishioners, identify and talk to all newcomers, answer passive aggressive questions about the hymn selection, and suck down two cups of coffee.

Read the full post here, and Fr Tim’s ideas for how to organise the competition.

Other ideas are provided in the comments; and you could add your own ideas either there, or in the comments here.

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9 thoughts on “Liturgical Olympics”

  1. Christianne McKee

    Linen ironing for the altar guild, with points given for speed and perfection, while deducting points for wrinkles or scorching. A separate event for priests ironing altar linens so they can gain an appreciation for all that the altar guild does for them. Ironing a fair linen could be a team event.

  2. And 4 of these contests are in active competition today in my parish, preaching more occasionally with irregular competitors. THe other has been tried from time to time with about 50/50 success. guesses as to which invited

  3. There may need to be a rule clarification on endurance preaching to prevent teams recruiting baptist pastors and presbyterian ministers (assuming this is an all-RC event).
    Also, was at a lovely organ concert today in a church with two organs, which made me think of organ relays as a possible event. It would have to involve picking up the tune from the other organist part way through without skipping a beat to make it really interesting.

      1. Now I am confused about my own assumption. All the mention of acolytes, bells and Rite II made me think the origin post was of RC origin.
        So assuming an interdenominational event now, I could see the sermon event becoming something like the 100m race, which has become dominated by athletes from a small number of national backgrounds, all with different passports and birth countries. Except in this case baptist and presbyterian preachers with different denominational credentials. So some serious rule setting might be needed.

  4. Re Speed Mass
    There should be bonus points for making the text sound like one very long run-on sentence. (I once knew a priest that would have been a certain gold-medal [St. Christopher, of course] winner)

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