Bulling after the failure of his hunger strike to avert the closure of the Dominican church on Dominic Street, the church sacristan has ramped up his campaign to save the church by taking it to the next level; wearing a suicide vest. The sacristan, who has thanked the local ex-paramilitary community for their consulting expertise in making the vest, hopes to send a signal to Rome.
This latest escalation comes three months after the failure of his previous suicide attempt and just two weeks after Father Jim aired his suspicion that the Catholic God had relapsed to his blood thirsty Old Testament self by announcing from the pulpit that “…maybe God wants a life to save this church. I will give that life for this congregation.” After Father Jim’s revelation, the sacristan is determined to play hard ball with the one true God.
The sacristan’s 12-day hunger strike ended in September after he ate something. It was a somewhat embarrassing climb down from the alter cleaner who had vowed not to swallow food until the decision to close the Dominican church was reversed by Rome. Though eventually cracking like an egg, The Faa Side can confirm that he initially showed Christ like determination, refusing a Twix from an evil tempter.
However, the sacristan was consoled by receiving his blue martyrdom badge for “…the denial of desires, as through fasting and penitent labours without necessarily implying a journey or complete withdrawal from life.” The blue merit badge for martyrdom now holds pride of place on his left sleeve beside previous badges earned for flawless tabernacle work, installation of the churches Early Satan Warning System™ and mastery of giving communion on the tongue.
In recent times the merit badge system has been adopted and popularised by the Boy Scout movement. Scouts would earn these badges for proficiency in old-skool life skills such as mastering bee farming, archery and knot tying. The system was first introduced for Christians by Pope Gregory I in his seminal work Homilia in Evangelia. The work designated three types of martyrdom. Believers were bestowed the title of red martyr for either torture or violent death by religious persecution. White martyrdom was the preserve of desert hermits who aspired to martyrdom through strict asceticism while a blue badge was handed out for fasting or hunger striking.
A lack of deserts in close proximity to Drogheda has led to the sacristan eschewing his white martyrdom badge and going straight for the holy grail, the red one – known in the sacristan trade as a ‘wet’ martyrdom, as it involves a blood sacrifice. Gregory IX was explicit in referring to geographical deserts as opposed to cultural or moral deserts, so the sacristan was unable to count his recent visits to Dundalk and claim the badge. For the past two months, he had been putting in the martyr miles by commuting to Dundalk and had been hoping they’d soon result in martyr smiles.
In order to be accepted for a ‘wet’ martyrdom without first attaining a white badge, the aspiring martyr must complete a series of tasks as outlined in Pope Gregory IX’s addendum to the Evangeli, the Decretals of Pope Gregory IX.
The Decretals state that the aspiring martyr can in effect skip a badge by travelling from town to town offering martyr services to the peasantry in return for indulgences. This practice was perfected by the late Saint Oliver Plunkett, whose terror stricken severed head now rests in a glass case in a church not even named after him.
The Dominican Order first came to Drogheda in 1224 and have been a constant presence in the town for over 750 years. The Franciscan Order left the town in 2000 after an association of 700 years. Father Louis Brennan said at the time ‘The bottom line is God. Vocations are essentially a calling … God may not be calling so many people today, for whatever reason.”
With declining vocations and an ageing membership, perhaps it was inevitable that the order would have to close. When a similar fate befell the Franciscans, they donated their church to Drogheda Borough Council. It is now a thriving art gallery. Locals are skeptical of a similar gift from the Dominicans. As one mass goer pointed out –
With the amount of semtex he has in the vest there, there’ll be nothing left. Even the replica of St. Bernadette’ll be blown to smithereens.
With Rome silent on the closure and Father Jim yet to sacrifice himself, hopes are high among the congregation that the sacristan’s new approach will indeed send them all to heaven.