Before embarking on the road that led me to my life of crime, I was an altar boy.
The duties of an altar boy are vast and complex. You had to set up before mass – you making sure there was water and wine and enough hosts ready for mass. If you ever wanted to have your little mind blown, open up the jumbo bag o' Body of Christ and fill up the receptacle like so much cocktail peanuts.
Yes, priests were allowed to smack the altar boys around. The priest was holy and you were a snot nosed kid, so if the priest hit you – you must have deserved it.
Besides having to dole out the sacraments, Altar boys had to hold the bible for priest during mass. You had to mark the appropriate space for the daily mass and be prepared to open to that page when called upon to do so. Woe was you if you forgot to mark your place or didn't hold the book steady enough or close enough when the priest had a hangover and his sight was blurry. That got you a smack to the back of the head.
Altar boys would practice the secret art of flicking the paten, so they could force their friends to spit up the host and watch the priest have to eat the pre-moistened host. But you had to do this, without the priest catching you – it meant instant dismissal from the ranks of altar boydom. Yes, I got one or two of my friends in the throat and never go caught.
Now we come up to the another important function of the altar boy – towel boy. At the end of communion, the priest cleans his hands and finishes the wine (Blood O' Christ) in the chalice.
You'd hope for the quick smack to the back of the head. You could get the slow torture of thumbs against the wall. Place you hands straight in front of you then step back about a foot. Then lean against the wall with just your thumbs while the priest busied himself around the altar and sacristy after mass.
Have a good Holy Thursday