I’m a very, very lapsed Catholic. It’s often only every other year I make it to Christmas Eve mass and nearly unheard of that I make it to Christmas, Good Friday and Easter in the same calendar year. I really love the idea of the church and, I do have faith, but I’m also a big questioner.
Like, I start thinking about venial vs. mortal sins and I start conjuring up all kinds of weird scenarios like George Carlin:
Once a week Father Russel would come in for Heavy Mystery Time. And you’d save all your weird questions for Father Russell. You’d take the whole week to think up trick questions. “Ey, Fadder: If God is all-powerful, can he make a rock so big he himself can’t lift it?” Or you’d take a simple sin and surround it with the most bizarre circumstances to relieve the guilt. Example: You had to perform your Easter Duty once between Ash Wednesday and Pentecost Sunday. So you’d ask: “Suppose you didn’t make your Easter Duty and it’s Pentecost Sunday. And you’re on a ship at sea. And the chaplain goes into a coma. But you wanted to receive. And then it’s Monday. And then you cross the international dateline….”
Yep, I’m that guy.
But lately, I’ve started listening to mass on the radio which is oddly calming. I even gave up something (alcohol) for lent this year. (I slipped up once and had two glasses of gin when I was in Phoenix a few weeks ago, but like I explained to Oliver, I’m pretty willing to make mistakes and then just ask forgiveness when it comes to venial sins like that… and I don’t think two drinks = “a grave matter.”)
So I actually went to Good Friday and Easter Sunday services this year. Not sure when I’ll go back again but, after attending two churches (The Grotto, which is pretty but full of stuffy people and St. Andrew’s which I knew I was going to love based entirely on the “gay and lesbian welcome” note on their home page.)
I’m not sure I’ve been shown the light, and I definitely haven’t stopped questioning things about The Church that make no sense to me. But, I have learned at least one important lesson:
You can tell a lot about a church by the way it’s congregation reacts to crying children during the homily.