QUAERITUR: Priesthood and paintball

paintballFrom a reader:

If Father takes the altar servers out paintballing, [That’s a verb?] would it be sacrilege to shoot him during the contests?

On the contrary!

Shoot him as often as you can.

Head shots are preferable.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Is this an example of what Charles Williams means by “hierarchic and republican”?

  2. B.C.M. says:

    Also remember Rule Number 2 from Zombieland. Double-tap.

  3. NoTambourines says:

    Say the black, do the red, shoot the orange, blue, yellow, green…

  4. Tony Layne says:

    If he’s got a gun, then it’s obligatory. No clerical discounts on the battlefield.

  5. Jack Hughes says:

    I love the idea of paintballing, however it would have to be in teams with scenarios such as capture the flag, this would allow my moriatry mind to plan lots of ambushes

  6. Bryan Boyle says:

    No athiests in foxholes, either.

  7. DavidJ says:

    Forgive me Father, for you were always my first target on the paintball field.

  8. Tominellay says:

    Will Father be bringing his biretta?

  9. Supertradmum says:

    I know a very young FSSP who took his altar boys out for paintballing many years ago. He told me afterwards, “Never again”. I think the rawness of the emotional experience of seeing his angels as proto-Rambos put him off a bit. I don’t know what they all did the year next for their “fun day”, but it wasn’t paintballing…

  10. chris1 says:

    Tominellay –
    you mean, his Beretta?

  11. FaithfulCatechist says:

    A similar question came up in Sunday school yesterday. I’d explained that “thou shalt not kill” also meant “no hitting” and a student who was taking karate asked whether that also applied to sparring. It took a minute to come up with a convincing explanation as to why sparring was ok. I’m still not sure if the student was relieved or disappointed!

  12. Haec Dies says:

    We had an SSPX priest as our pastor in Cleveland and Erie in the lae 90′ who gathered up all of the AltarBoys from both parishes monthly to play paintball. He was even to our house several times and crawled around the woods and valleys and had the best of time with his servers. And yes, he did get shot and he did a lot of the shooting too. It was some of the best times for our boys. He wqas an awsome inspiration.

  13. Rose in NE says:

    Our assistant pastor (FSSP) has played Airsoft (an air gun that shoots rubber pellets) with some of the altar boys. Father is a former Marine, so the boys didn’t cut him any slack. It’s kind of nice to see the boys being boys.

  14. Ismael says:


    Actually as far as I know it’s never a sacrilege to use violence on a priest, although it is of course a sin. [Yes, doing harm to a priest with the intent of doing harm is not only a sin because he is a human being, but it is also the sin of sacrilege because he a sacred person.]
    On the other hand (while still not a ‘sacrilege’) [See above.] using violence against a Bishop is punished by excommunication.

    Naturally you ARE allowed to shoot a Bishop at paint-ball or to hit him if you are in a (friendly) boxing match with a particularly sportsy bishops (if there are boxing nuns out there heheh…), since full-contact sports do not mean ‘violence’ as an acts of hurting someone.

  15. Father G says:

    One can always resort to a water balloon fight if paintball is not possible. That’s what we did for Altar Server Appreciation day at my parish. I can tell you they enjoyed the chance to “gang up” on their associate pastor. I had water in my left ear for a few days though.

  16. Supertradmum says:

    My son wants a Westie when he is ordained. Maybe, besides the chalice, I should get him a paintball gun and attire, mask, etc. What do you think?

  17. Random Friar says:

    No, no, no! You do NOT do a head shot to a priest!

    First of all, his homilies will just get dumber. Second of all, aim for the gut — he’ll be less long-winded that way.

  18. Steven says:

    Priests, no. Bishops, perhaps – he could always give a dispensation, but if he’s smart he won’t. Talk about tactical advantage ;) We’ve discussed this when trying to invite the priests/bishop on our seminary paintball outings

  19. Cathy says:

    Men are very different creatures, God made them that way and for good reason. I love that the pastor is taking the servers to play paintball, I would be terribly concerned if the outing were a tea party.

  20. Ben Trovato says:

    I paintball
    Thou paintballest
    He, she, or it paintballs
    We paintball
    You paintball
    They paintball.

    And then one can progress to: ‘Father, having been paintballed, got his revenge on the MC.’ (etc)

  21. Marie Teresa says:

    Okay, so I’m the only wet blanket, but …

    One of the things that soldiers must overcome in order to be effective in battle is mans natural reluctance to shoot his fellow man. Paintball is one way to break down that hesitance. It’s not the same as little boys playing cowboy.

  22. Maltese says:

    I love it when Priests, Bishops (and even Popes, like Julius II riding into battle!) do…well, manly things that most women do not like to do.

    For instance, in the Catholic Diocese of Rapid City, there is the annual Bishop’s Hunt for Seminarians; of course the Bishop is shooting quail, not the Seminarians!

    Also, there’s the Bishop and Priest in Texas who like to hunt deer!

  23. Slappo says:

    I think it is entirely different being reluctant to shoot a fellow man with a chunk of metal possibly killing him, and with the intention of killing him, then it is to shoot a fellow man with a paintball that splatters upon impact with the intent of knocking him out of a match. If you’re throwing out paintball because it breaks down mans natural reluctance to shoot his fellow man, then water balloons are too much like grenades, squirt guns like real guns, and laser tag like phasers set for kill (for all those trekkies!).

    Playing paintball with the intent of combat training is different then playing paintball with the intent of entertainment.

  24. Rob in Maine says:

    Paintballing? Wow. All we got when I was a altar boy was an annual trip to Fenway to watch the Red Sox. That was back when a Church could afford twenty bleacher seats.

  25. Scott W. says:

    Slappo beat me to it. I call it the Everyone Knows What They Are Doing rule. That is, the difference between a paintgun and a genuine lethal weapon isn’t one of degree; it’s a whole ‘nother category.

  26. Mike Morrow says:

    Paintball in this case is OK, but proper liturgical colors only please!

  27. MyBrokenFiat says:

    This entire post is full of so much awesome that I think my head might explode. What a hoot!

    So glad to see such good humor amongst our wonderful priests. :) <3

  28. mike cliffson says:

    As an old fogey, over50yrs ago,paintball undreamtof, I remember a snowball fight including altarboys and the youngishcurate (assistant pastor?), to which the older pp aka parish priest aka pastor statesside, objected.
    I misrember on what grounds, perhaps gravitas: Priests needed no grounds in those days with curates, let alone with altar boys.
    I appreciate snow is rare in your southerner states.Snowballs can pack a punch, mind.More like painballs than paintballs.

  29. Norah says:

    Great to see boys being permitted to act like boys.

  30. mike cliffson says:

    PS :
    I don’t believe we had any fun day nor outing either, which you seem to be taking for granted: but Father, when in the mood, shared a bit of his tip at weddings and funerals , and boy, with postwar pocketmoney at zilch level, that was an occasional unexpectable extra that was awesomely mindblowing.

  31. AnAmericanMother says:

    Marie Theresa,

    You never played Cowboys and Indians with OUR neighborhood!

    Speaking as one who was an outrageous tomboy as a girl – and who still indulges in sports seen as male-oriented such as competitive shooting and hunting and retriever training – smacking your buddies with paintballs, or (in my case) rubber arrows, hickory nuts in slingshots (ouch!), or pellet guns (sorry, Mom!) is nowhere near the same as shooting another human being with a firearm with the intent to stop (and incidentally kill dead). The one time I have had to draw down on somebody I almost threw up — and I didn’t even shoot him.

    Boys are hardwired for that sort of thing. A good friend of mine, an artsy-crafty liberal and pacifist etc., tried to keep her two little boys from being “indoctrinated into killing”, as she thought it was. No cap pistols, no Army men, no GI Joes, no nuthin’.

    They picked up sticks and shouted “BANG!” and died spectacularly as they shot each other.

    All of this paintballing and AirSofting doesn’t do a thing for you if you have to shoot another human being. The Marine Corps is in business to overcome that reluctance, and their method is quite effective.

  32. Maltese says:

    A good friend of mine, an artsy-crafty liberal and pacifist etc., tried to keep her two little boys from being “indoctrinated into killing

    LOL! My son spent this afternoon with his two–twin-Catholic–friends Nerf Air-Soft gunning each-other to death today.

    When bad men come into a Liberal’s home, are they going to rely on their Enneagrams or the dreaded, conservative police to help them?

    Let boys responsibly learn how to hunt, and let them grow up to be men, not metrosexual automatons!

  33. Ismael says:

    Thanks for the corrections Fr. Z.

    Indeed if someone attacks a priest (or worse a bishop) as a way to attack the Church I can see that it could be considered as ‘sacrilege’.

    On the other hand if someone attacked a priest or bishop not because of their ministry but for some other reason (ie for robbing them, or as an act of random violence ) is that also to be considered sacrilegious?

  34. Ismael: if someone attacked a priest or bishop not because of their ministry but for some other reason…

    Objectively, yes.

  35. APX says:

    Given that not too many priests dress in clerics anymore, would it still be considered sacrilege if the person attacking them didn’t know?

  36. Stephen Matthew says:

    Paint ball can be great fun and good team building, but should be done with proper planning and due care.

    Use the full safety equipment, including one of those full face masks with eye shields, wear sturdy clothing including long sleaves. Try to keep the aim above the waist and below the neck, that should help reduce the odds of any serious problems. Also establish a safe distance, less than which you won’t shoot. Paintballs can have enough velocity/kinetic energy to cause a lot of pain and potentially cause injury if people muck around. Also, check your insurance policy to make sure liability is covered.

  37. AnAmericanMother says:

    Stephen Matthew,
    You said it. My daughter and son picked up some spectacular bruises playing paintball. Since they are Irish redheads thanks to my husband, any bruise explains itself like a dying rainbow for weeks . . . .
    Daughter being the straight-up obedient type only played on regular paintball fields with all the safety equipment, and she still got nailed occasionally.
    My son tended to play more in ad hoc pickup games and routinely sustained injury. I was absolutely adamant re goggles, since you only get one set of eyes, but the bruises, blood blisters, fat lips, and stitches he picked up were amazing. But he was always a risk-taker and injury-prone, and tended to get banged up no matter what he was doing (who else would get bitten by a rattlesnake while running in a cross-country meet? I mean . . . !) Since he is now under the tender care and supervision of the experts in the USMC, he gets hurt a lot less frequently.

  38. Random Friar says:

    My Latin is poor, but I nominate “pil?mittere” as the proper Latin verb for “to paintball.”

    And when one is hit? “I, [pila]missa es”

  39. amenamen says:

    You had to ask about boxing nuns?

  40. Charivari Rob says:

    Rob in Maine – “Paintballing? Wow. All we got when I was a altar boy was an annual trip to Fenway to watch the Red Sox. That was back when a Church could afford twenty bleacher seats.”

    The only time I remember something was a pizza lunch to end a training class. The “big treat” element was that Father had rented a Woody Woodpecker cartoon to run on a movie projector while we waited for the pizza.

    Yes, not Blockbuster, not Netflix, not VHS or DVD or Bluray or download – rent a reel of film! One reel. One (6-8 minute) cartoon. I think it was Woody – all I remember was the protagonist squaring-off with some park ranger(s) trying to keep him from going over Niagara Falls in a barrel! There was a delay with the pizza, so… we watched it, rewound it, watched it again, watched it backwards, watched it forward one more time…

  41. Taylor says:

    Post photos please :-)

  42. jkarpilo says:

    Just remember: barrel plug in with barrel above your head while administering viaticum to mortally wounded players…

  43. New Sister says:

    Remember those horrid vestments, put upon our Holy Father in Mariazell, Austria, c.2007?

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