I was a strange child.
Nothing really changed there except the height, I hear members of my family mutter....
Thinking about some of the youngsters we hear about in the news, with numerous ASBO awarded by the courts etc, I was **weird**.
We were an unchurched family. I had never been baptised, for every time my parents attempted to arrange it, the Rector of the parish where we lived when I was born , promptly had a heart attack, poor man. I am not even going to attempt to analyse this :-)
As a child of about 8, I started going to Baptist Sunday School with a schoolfriend, which was OK, until they started getting a member of the Sunday School to stand up in the vast church to read Bible Verses. This chapel would easily hold a thousand people, and nothing on the planet could have induced me to stand up in front of that number of people and read.
Consequently, when it rolled around to be my turn to read in public, I refused to set foot there ever again.
That left an interval of about 4 years, in which time I was inwardly still seeking God, but didn`t know where to start. My family didn`t know anyone who went to church, and I was too scared to set foot in any of the Churches in our town on my own.
When my mum changed jobs, one of the ladies she worked with mentioned that she went to St X`s church, and my mum mentioned this to me one day in passing. I asked her to ask her colleague if I could go with her, and that was that, as they say.
It was a lovely, purpose-built Anglo-Catholic church whose amazing High Church liturgy made the local post -Vatican II RCs look like Protestants and I loved it. Hence my still-lingering love of the Old Sarum Western-Rite.
I went to High Mass every Sunday, and Evensong with Benediction, and rapidly I started going to daily Mass and Evensong.
Remember, I was about 12 at this point.
I was Baptised and Confirmed, and began to serve at Low Mass every single day without fail, for none of the altar boys went to Low Mass at all.
I was not allowed to serve at High Mass on Sundays or Feasts, for that was a boy`s job , but that was right and proper in my mind.
I still wish I had not badgered to be allowed to serve at Mass at all, for I am sure that was the slippery slope for that particlar church.......I set a precedent.
I was soon promoted to being in charge of tending the Lampada in front of the Blessed Sacrament, and then to preparing the vestments and the church for each Low Mass. I even had my own key to the sacristy, though not to the safe where the Silver Sacred Vessels where kept. I had to wait for the officiating clergy to arrive before I could access that key :-)
I checked the Ordo, laid out the appropriate vestments and prepared the Sacred Vessels. I even washed and ironed the altar linen when needed.
I was then responsible for locking up the church after the evening Mass.
On Thursday mornings, Mass was said by a retired priest of immense holiness, and this meant being in church by 7.30 am to get everything ready, and I would go straight to school from Mass.
I was blessed to be so trusted, and to participate so fully in the life of that Parish. It was one of the assistant curates to who lent me Bishop Kallistos` "The Orthodox Church" and various prayer books, which started me on the path to Holy Orthodoxy, for which I shall be eternally thankful. May God bless and preserve you, Fr John !!
Those were such fun days....but was this normal behaviour for a teenager ? Certainly not by today`s standards.
Like I said, I was weird........ :-)