What’s the top reason for changing Mass times? They are as numerous as the number of parishioners but my favorite reason for changing the hour of the Eucharist happened last year–“Father, can we move this Mass to an earlier time; they serve fried chicken at the Senior Center when that Mass starts.” No priest in his right mind can argue with six ladies of a certain advanced age armed with metal walkers and stout shillelaghs they call canes. Now they could still make the Senior Center after Mass at the usual time but all the good chicken would be snagged by their Lutheran, Baptist and heathen peers in Medicare.
Besides what pastor doesn’t have a heart for fried chicken? It is the bedrock of society and of the soul. One of the great discussions at any church gathering is not the Holy Father’s latest encyclical, nor an impending renovation of a sacred building but who has the best fried fowl in town. Many a marital brouhaha has been incited by the wistful acclamation, “I wish you could make fried chicken like mom.” Attendance at various events in smaller communities is oft determined by who brought the chicken. A proven recipe for the crispy critter with wings is the sure path to a Christian reputation for sanctity. However, one or two batches of soggy, rubbery pullet meat can be the ruin of an aspiring chef; in a small town, even grounds for deportation.
At this point, a confession is in order. The past 36 years I’ve been living a lie; I’m not a chicken fan. There, I’ve said it, and let the nuggets fall where they may! Nothing wrong with the farmyard bird, but I burned out on it early in life. The only way to recover a taste for deep fried breast or thigh is to throw myself at the feet of Jesus and ask to be restored to the glory of God’s people and have the tastebuds undergo 40 days of penance. The leper threw himself at the feet of Jesus and found his healing.
Jesus placed three requirements on the healed man: 1) Tell no one; 2) Show yourself to the priest; and , 3) offer what Moses prescribed. He didn’t make it past the first one but made Jesus’ power to all who would listen. All good and well for him; I’m going to keep my unfortunate unliking of chicken a secret.