I had met a very nice young man on holidays in England and come Christmas time he came over to Dublin to visit me and my family who lived in the country. He was a Protestant. I wrote to my Mother saying I would be bringing him home on Christmas Eve for the Christmas period. She wrote back saying she didn’t want someone in the house who would not be going to Mass on Christmas Day. I replied that my boyfriend was quite willing to come to Mass with us. I got another letter from her saying “I won’t have a Protestant coming to Mass with us”. My solution was to arrive home after Mass.
Sometime later a Protestant family moved into the house across the road from my parents and my father, Christy, and Fred, the neighbour, became great mates. My father was not a big drinker but he liked a pint of Guinness or two and the mates would occasionally meet in the local country pub.
Then one Christmas Eve they met in town. One drink led to another and then another, with some Scotches or Jameson’s in between. By closing time they were very drunk. When they had to leave the pub, neither felt like going home, so Christy suggested that, as Midnight Mass was due to start, they should go to Mass. Fred agreed.
The Catholic churches in Ireland were very large because the majority of the population was Catholic. On Christmas Eve they were packed with people. Now if Christy went to Mass drunk and sat in one of the back pews, it wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow but no, the Catholic and the Protestant both staggered all the way up to the front of the church and sat in the front pew.
It was a great topic of conversation in the community over Christmas and for a long time afterwards. My father was very sheepish about the affair, but it didn’t affect his friendship with Fred.
My Mother was mortified but, as I said in the beginning, it was Karma.