Mass-goer has close call . . .

He gives it to us straight.

Aggressively sought today by a fellow worshiper two pews ahead of me for what was sure to be an aggressive handclasp, I held back.

It didn’t matter. My fellow worshiper was not to be denied. I knew I had to act and act fast, or all was lost. Come up with something or be crushed by this enthusiast. In a flash it came to me, and I said it, holding up the threatened limb: “Bad hand.”

Without a blink, wink, or nod, like a quarterback deciding to run, he reached across the aisle to make the flesh-pressing contact he desperately needed.

A friend once suggested that a person might claim leprosy and thus fend off such a handshaker. Never tried that, but now I have a better way. Keep it simple. Say “bad hand.”

See also What’s the Deal with the Sign of Peace? for more on same topic.

As illustrated:

This ancient tradition dates back to the 2nd century writings of Justin Martyr, which was then symbolized with a kiss. However, it fell into disuse until Vatican II when it was revived as an optional practice.

Key word here: optional. It should not become a free-for-all meet-and-greet, and no one should feel pressured to participate.

Word to the wise . . .

The father said stop that, the small son complied but without stopping it!

In his Grace and Truth: Twenty Steps to Embracing Virtue and Saving Civilization, George W. Rutler tells of the child versifier who foreshadowed his future greatness.

Just as it is in our better nature to sing, so it is in our better nature to arrange words in poetry. In the late seventeenth century in Southampton, England, there was a boy who was addicted to verse. As a boy, Isaac Watts watched a mouse by the fireplace and said, “The little mouse, for want of stairs, went up a rope to say his prayers.”

His father told him to cut it out. The family had had enough of his constant scansion. He replied, “Father, father, pity take, and I will no more verses make.”

He didn’t keep his poetic promise. Instead, he became the father of English hymnody, writing hundreds upon hundreds of church songs. We still sing many of them: “Joy to the World,” “O God, Our Help in Ages Past,” “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.”

A natural, to be sure.