Thursday, February 07, 2008


I thought Mass started at noon; turned out it was 12:10, so I was pretty early. The parking lot was nearly full but the church wasn't; it was mainly old ladies, with a few young ladies in between. I felt like I was in a room full of Babcias.

I liked the homily; the priest talked about the meaning of the word sincerity, how it came from not putting wax into marble to cover up any imperfections, and that Lent is a time to just be who you are, flaws and all. Oh, and to repent. Which -- well, he wasn't selling it as you're all a bunch of lousy sinners. It felt more to me of a God loves you despite that big bag of shit you're dragging behind you. Oh and by the way, now's a good time to let that shit go.

So. When it was time to get a cross of ashes made from last year's burned up Palm Sunday palms mixed with oil and then blessed, there were three good-sized lines of parishioners, some men and younger women; a couple of kids. One little girl smiled at me. At communion there was only body, no blood. Not sure why, but whatevs. I took communion. I prayed, for my friend's mom, for Babcia, on the off chance that there is a Purgatory and she's stuck there. (And as a side story, at the lunch after Babcia's funeral, Little Brother announced he was going to start praying every day, saving them up until he dies, then once he gets to Heaven he'll sell them to people stuck in Purgatory for a profit.)

I prayed for guidance.

Then I went to the fancy hippy grocery store on the edge of the peoples' republic of Cambridge with a big black cross smack dab in the middle of my forehead. That was fun.

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Anonymous Susan D. said...

As a Jew, I never knew what Lent was and certainly never saw it coming. All I knew was one day suddenly lots of people went walking around with dirt on their heads. And it always looks like a smudge, not a cross, so that didn't clue me in. So in my head that's what it became - Dirt-On-Your-Head day, as in, "Oh, I guess it must be Dirt-On-Your-Head day again." Now that I get what Lent is, I don't think that anymore. Or I do, but I correct myself really fast. Sorry for any offense, it wasn't intended that way.

I'm glad you're finding something of substance to soothe your soul at Mass - I don't think it's correct to say "Happy Lent," but I wish you good things to come from this one.

6:48 AM, February 08, 2008

Blogger McPolack said...

susan d. you just made me laugh out loud...and you're right, it's more of smear than a cross, depending on the artiste. It's ash cross impressionism. It's Dirt-On-Your-Head day!

Thanks for the laugh and for your good wishes.

9:18 AM, February 08, 2008

Blogger jcarton said...

I was riding the T one day in college and I looked over and saw someone with ash on their forehead. I had to do a double-take, as it looked like a fresh bullet wound. Seriously.

9:43 AM, February 08, 2008

Blogger Teri said...

Looking forward to observing your experiment!

I would like to go to a traditional Catholic church for one year of holidays. Just to experience the rituals, the readings, the fragrances, the hymns. I'm sure it would trip a lot of long-dormant memories.

Going to Mass was a weekly thing for me my entire life until age 21. In late high school and college, I was even involved in church activities like the youth group, playing music for mass and leading a retreat at the Newman Center in college. (Nerd alert!)

I always had a spiritual alignment with the story of Jesus, and always an attitude of take-it-with-a-grain-of-salt toward the church. As you implied, it is a group of humans and we are flawed people.

When I was a junior in college I took a class called Philosophy of Religion and it blew my mind open about God. Since then, I consider myself a spiritual philosopher on a non-defined path. I love the whole discussion of what's possible, love learning how different people relate to and experience God.

I encourage anyone to find a spiritual path that inspires, whatever that path may be.

Even if it's stone atheism - power to ya. (That's the only one I don't really get, quite honestly.)

Not that you asked for my unedited personal history. But.

11:50 PM, February 08, 2008


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