Written April 2002, Revised July 2018

Genuflect - My first lesson


Leonard A. McHugh

When I was about seven years old, one of my friends asked me to attend Mass with him at Saint John the Baptist Catholic Parish Family in Pottsville, one of the largest Catholic churches in the area. Not being Catholic, the service and traditions were a new experience for me. So off we went, two exuberant little boys going to church on a Sunday morning.

With the boundless energy of any seven year old, we practically ran down the center aisle. Coming into the dimly lit church from a bright sunny day, my night blindness took over. I could barely see the shadowy figure of my friend, Jim walking in front of me. Unaware of the Catholic tradition of genuflecting on one knee and making the sign of the Cross before entering the pew, I hadn't noticed that my friend had paused to do this before taking his place. Between that and my limited night vision, I can only described what happened next as the perfect football block. While Jim was making his solemn reverence, I was tumbling over his genuflecting body and hurling myself half way down the aisle.

Many years later, I was relaying this story to a friend, when I noticed he began laughing before I finished. My friend then proceeded to tell me that he had a very similar experience but with him it was two blind men tumbling over a third blind man. With only one of them being Catholic, the other two were unaware of the genuflecting custom before entering the church pew. Joe the person who invited his two friends quickly got up and started frantically yelling in a low voice for the others to also get up. Being absolutely convinced that Joe had dropped something Ted and Alex continued crawling and groping around the floor looking for whatever Joe dropped. They kept saying "Joe, what did you drop'" This scene played out until Joe was able to convince them that he did not drop anything. After recovering from their tumble, and what they thought was a search and recovery process, they sat down with their friend. Their embarrassed friend explained the ritual and the three grown men tried to remain quiet in their seats waiting for the service to begin.

After all they did have a very entertaining performance to the other church members.


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