How to handle a priest?

No, I’m not talking about sexual abuse in the Catholic church!

There we were this evening, Zosia and I, not long in the home and settling slowly into an evening routine without mama who was at psycho-school for her one weekend per month training and the domofon rang. Strange, I thought, but answered it anyway and opened the door to see who was there. Our domofon is a bit of overkill really as the front door is all of 10 metres from the thing and it would be far easier if people just rapped on the kitchen window. Anyway, as I opened the door I was confronted with this tall guy dressed in a black cape with fancy attachments. Shit! I thought, Dracula!

Cursing myself for not knowing where we keep the garlic, I was about to shout “Zosia, run for it! I’ll keep him occupied!” when Dracula started making priestly movements, talking about ‘kolęda’ (or something) and I definitely heard the word ‘ksiądz’ (priest) with the correct declination. Realising my mistake I was at first relieved but then horrified as I realised that this priest was on my doorstep looking for an invite inside and I had absolutely no idea what the correct protocol was! Eeeek!

Something told me that “Not today, thank you.” was inappropriate and my command of Polish is not sufficient to embark on a doorstep discussion about the pros and cons of organised religion so I just invited him in, which seemed to be the right answer. Now, my first problem is what to be calling the guy, the word for priest (ksiądz) is dangerously close to the word for book (książka), certainly when you don’t really know what you’re doing with endings, so wishing to avoid calling him “Mr Book” for the evening I just avoided referring to him at all, like he was a sort of mysterious Holy spirit or something. I plied him with my full range of excuses about being English and not being Catholic although working hard on being a good one anyway for Zosia’s sake and because I’d signed all those papers when we got married and such forth. Can’t say he seemed to impressed although he did start making excuses about how his boss (the Pope?) was much better at English than he was!

As he stood awkwardly in the lounge I muted the Cartoon Network and he invited us to sit down and talk a little. Gawd! We sat and he gave a little speech about what he was doing there, which I think had something to do with “Kolęda wizyta duszpasterka”, as that’s what is written on one of the visiting cards he left behind. I’m completely at sea with this because as far as I know kolęda is something you sing at Christmas, Silent Night, The Holly & the Ivy and so on, so now I’m expecting him to break into a chorus of the Lu-la-lu-la-lay thing and expect us all to join in! Thankfully he didn’t.

Now we’re sat down, what’s going through my head is what I’m supposed to be offering him by way of either hospitality or a sign of my deepest respect for a man of the cloth. He’s clearly not Santa Claus so I suppose a mandarin, cup of milk and few walnuts is out of the question. Money perhaps? Churches like collecting money? In the end I settled for an offer of tea or coffee and he chose to use the toilet. (Yes folks, be jealous that OUR guest toilet is now operating with holy water!)

He opened his filofax whatsit, checked our address and noted something down, “Lost cause” is my guess. He then got out a few of those ‘made in China’ tarot cards with pictures of saints and stuff on them. One was an advert for the local church, from whence he came I assume. “Oh!” I said, “So there’s a church nearby? We’ll be sure to pop along sometime soon and join in the fun!”. Another card has a prayer on the back and the third one is the one that talks about kolęda wizyta…..

I was sensing that we’d just about exhausted our mutually possible interfacing and he was clearly of a similar opinion so he got up and mentioned praying. We all stood and tried to look suitably full of prayer. He said something about home and family and then shook a little silver thing. He then, I think, blessed Zosia, asked me to say something to my (clearly long suffering) wife and headed for the door. We said our goodbyes, him attempting English and me with a “Dobranoc! Catch you at the church soon!” and it was all over.

I know God was watching this whole sorry episode and I know I’m going to hell. Can someone tell me what the correct behaviour is just in case he’s mad enough to return.

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27 thoughts on “How to handle a priest?

  1. michael farris says:


    Since this is announced in church (and posted outside as well) well ahead of time the fact that he was able to take you by surprise indicates that the scatts family doesn’t darken the church door very often.

    Your wife is gonna have some ‘splainin’ to do to the priest.

    (yes, money is offered to the priest in an envelope (I’d say 50 zl is not unreasonable) and usually a couple of zlots each to the altar boys who accompany him (where were they? maybe this wasn’t a real kolęda at all and it was a phony priest casing the joint?)

  2. adthelad says:

    LINK (as above) – this is the crux of the matter

    In canonic law there apparently is a requirement which reads more or less that ‘Wishing to fulfill his duty as a pastor (shepard) the parish priest should endevour to get to know the faithful entrusted to his care. He should therefore visit families, know the faithfuls’ concerns, especially in times of difficulty or grief, and should encourage them in the Lord thus, should they be laxed, gently correct them to the right path.’

    And depending on custom a table might be prepared to assist in the blessing of the hoose and its occupants, after which a small donation is sometimes offered.
    You will have seen perhaps the letters KMB and date chalked on the top of door frames of people’s front doors? I would assume your abode should have such a mark above it also – unless Ksiądz hopes to come over when Mum comes back.

  3. scatts says:

    Thanks guys. He was from the local church, which we don’t visit although Marta and Z have been once. If we do go to church it is usually to the one we got married in and which is seen as “our church” –

    That’s not to say we go all that often!

    No, we don’t have the KMB thing but then we have a white door and he probably had white chalk!!

  4. island1 says:

    Hilarious! This is why I never open the door unless I know somebody is coming.

  5. Sylwia says:

    LOL I think they first send the altar boys to ask whether you wish for such a visit. At least they did that where I live the last time I refused. They didn’t return the next year.

    Do they print that cards in China? I thought they have their own print houses here.

    One doesn’t say to a priest “dzień dobry” or “dobranoc”, only “Niech będzie pochwalony Jezus Chrystus.” And he answers “Na wieki wieków. Amen.” That much I remember. :D

  6. Phlojd Katzenjammer says:

    Yes, it’s more traditional to let the altar boys handle the priest.

  7. scatts says:

    Glad you said that Sylwia, he did seem surprised by the dobranoc! The cards look Chinese in quality but given the perfect Polish text, perhaps not.

    Floyd – :-)

  8. guest says:

    Usually a Polish priest can speak English, Italian and latin very well.

    I think it was a fake priest….a thief.

  9. adthelad says:

    all the humor aside I wonder how you will adjust to your daughter being a catholic?

    Incidentally, this chap’s book is worth a dip just for the mental exercise although I do find the credits at the beginning a bit off the mark as the chap seems a mite over zealous and at points this affects ‘reception’ so to speak.

  10. scatts says:

    I don’t know if my daughter is going to be a Catholic yet. Neither does she at age 6.

  11. I love …LOVE… that everyone gives the visiting priests money. It’s a kinder, gentler mafia. Instead of bullets, they shoot you full of stress (over going to hell or, worse, having the local babcias eye you beadily as you walk about). And the bribes are smaller but the collections people just as relentless.

    I have given up answering my door/bell unless I am expecting a package. Otherwise, it is a priest I couldn’t care less about, a homeless person asking for change, some jackass construction worker asking for the key to the basement, some dick who wants to sell me stolen carpets or something else that may or may not be legal but is a very good deal.

  12. Phlojd Katzenjammer says:

    Can’t say I’ve ever come across a priest at Christmas time who’s been at all intent upon spewing any fire and brimstone. And are babcias really all that scarey? My guess is that you can outrun them if they really seem to pose any threat. Night of the Rosary-saying Mohair Beret Babcias. Aye-eek!

  13. yellerbelly says:

    Very brave Scatts. I would have played the “apologies, but I have no idea what you’re talking about” card and claimed I was Church of England.

    If my wife was in (who is a Catholic and very occasionally visits church when her sins start to mount up) I would have invited him in just to see her face.

    I have been at my in-laws place when this has happened, and it all seems to be a very serious affair. My father-in-law trained to be a priest, so he’s usually expecting him and dressed in his suit to show respect.

    You should be on the 8th floor like us – they don’t reach us until about April :)

  14. Pawel says:

    island1, I applaud your wisdom:-)

    scatts, when you married your wife in the Catholic Church, didn’t they demand that you promide to raise your children to be Catholic?;)) If Zosia is baptised, then there’s nothing a human can do to escape Catholicism. It’s like a mafia – no way out.

  15. jarek says:

    correct behaviour? don’t open the door at first :D

    at least that’s what i’m doing

  16. MaterialGirl says:


    I think you acted very properly to the situation.

    Quite funny story. :)

    The imp in me would like to see you BigMisiek dancing from left to right (in the american gospel way) with hands lifted above your head and singing “Hallelujah!” and “Jesus, Jesus!”. I’m sure, the priest will be astonished and maybe delighted. :D

    When you in Rome, do like Romans do.
    When I got lost in London with looking for the polish catholic church I was tired and started to think “where’s this fucking church” I decided to go to anglican church. It was very interesting experience, although I’m not sure was I traitor or big sinner praying for the queen instead for the pope. :D

    Next time you need white cloth to your table, 2 white candles, the plate with holly water (bought or stolen from the nearest church) aspergillum and a cross. Aspersorium, cross and candles you can use also to fight with Dracula f.e. saying the words “Apage Satanas”.
    But I think that “man in black” was really Neo. Didn’t he say sth about bit and Zero One system. :D

  17. MaterialGirl says:

    The boss of the vicar/curate = wikary (I suppose) was the rector = proboszcz.
    Pope is the superboss. :D

  18. MaterialGirl says:


    the priest in his notebook wrote: “next year – this house should visit my boss, who better speak english”.

    So, if you are still convinced to your presumption who is that boss, expect in the 2010 y. Pope at your doorstep. :D

  19. Pawel says:


    This Pope? B16? He hates innowiercy! He might start a holy war on Scatts! Surely you don’t want that to happen do you?:>

  20. MaterialGirl says:

    Perhaps between these godlesses and losted in Poland is some Anglican?

    I have a question:
    What should I say to the priest at your church gate?
    He stood at that gate (he was probably bishop) and shook hands of the faithfuls.
    What could I say with my elementary english?
    I had got only some silly ideas!
    Thank you!
    You are great (maybe he would think about his preach, but he was really big and fat).
    God save the Queen (in your best safe, because Charles can’t wait to his 99 birthday for the throne).

    I concentrated on not beeing similar to Mary Stuart queen of Scotland, because I wanted to lose my head, but only for some nice fellow, not to be beheaded. I hadn’t want to be saint yet. :D

  21. MaterialGirl says:


    but Scatts isn’t innowierca=infidel/dissenter/heretic!!!
    Not at all!
    As he is saying about himself – he don’t believe in God.
    He believes, but in power of money!

  22. Marek says:

    Same thing happens in the UK.

    If you happen to be Polish (or have some distant relative from the homeland) then the local Polish priest will track you down and pay you a visit. It’s just a matter of time.

    My mother hasn’t been to Polish church for over 25 yrs but without fail she receives a visit from the Polish priest to bless the house and collect his “tip”.

  23. gforse says:

    Pawel what are you talking about / its utter gibberish / nothing could be further from the true.
    Why are you presenting your own prejudices as a information,
    get a grip mate!

  24. Pawel says:

    LOL. What is your problem “mate”? Feel free to give your own “a information”.

  25. gforse says:

    Problem? Not at all …LOL.
    You do not write the truth and someone who doesnt know Poland may believe it.
    The fact is if you dont want to be Catholic you dont need to be, as nobody can force you.
    Personally Im fed up with people who are ready to marry in the RCC or baptize their children and later are very surprised that they action has consequences.

  26. Pawel says:

    Why accuse me of telling lies? It is you who doesn’t have full information.
    Your “fact” that one doesn’t have to be Catholic if one doesn’t want to – is not a fact indeed.
    To leave you have to complete the act of apostasy. But it turns out the Roman Catholic Church doesn’t think adult people can make their own decisions, as in Poland, in order to do that, you need TWO WITNESSES. (!!!!!!)

    A friend of mine went to her parish with two witnesses – and the priest DENIED her. He said he won’t do it. He won’t let her make the apostasy. End of discussion.

    If that is not forcing to be Roman Catholic I don’t know what is.

    But as the matter of fact you are even more misinformed. When two people: a Roman Catholic and a person of another faith, want to merry in church – it happens very often that they are denied the service that would include both denominations. They are forced to choose Roman Catholic faith, and it is required of them to promise they will baptise future children in the Roman Caholic Church.

    No forcing? You should go and see what happens in local parishes, rather then what are the declarations.

  27. gforse says:

    Accuse? Now just hold yours horses, all I say is that your view on that matter is not balanced and radical.
    To leave RCC you have to complete – nothing!
    You simply stay out of the RCC, you dont marry, baptize your children and so on.
    On the other hand if one insist on very fomal approach and needs THE ACT OF APOSTASY (although I dont know what for? Maybe to hang on the wall) its completely different kettle of fish.
    However as they say “where is a will there is way”.
    I think friends of yours should have asked bishop not some priest.
    Please tell what happens in local parishes are they herding people at gunpoint or what?

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