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a heathen goes to evening mass

I consider myself spiritual rather than religious.  Some might even consider me a little bit heathen (see why here).  But growing up I desperately wanted to be religious although my family wasn't.  When I was living in Massachusetts all my friends were Irish Catholic and went to CCD in preparation for their Confirmation.  They complained but I wanted to be like them and have to go to CCD too.  Then when my family moved to California all my friends were Jewish and went to Hebrew School in preparation for their bar/bat mitzvahs.  I totally wanted to go to Hebrew school.  From this vantage point I can clearly see that I just wanted to belong to something greater than myself- a community, even a spiritual center.

I've been to plenty of churches and temples and felt nothing.  I thought I was simply content to pray on my own.   But last night I went to an evening mass because I was in Massachusetts visiting my friend Kelly O'Mara and I have to admit I had a pretty cool experience there.  I want to explain about the service but first let me tell you about the priest I saw when I walked into the church.

Standing on the stairs were a group of very young priests clearly just out of the seminary or were even still attending.  But this one, he was like an angel.  He was the most beautiful human being I have ever seen - utterly perfect.  I wanted to stop and stare, and I can tell you that when he gets his own parish there will be a lot of female parishioners having guilty thoughts about their priest  - the confession boxes will be over-flowing.  It has the potential to be all very ThornBirds except he was beautiful not in at HOT way, or Hollywood celebrity way, but in a totally pure and heavenly way.  He couldn't have been over 20 years old and he had chosen to give all his beauty to God.  I was impressed and am still contemplating the magnitude of it.

Does talking about a priest that way make me sacrilegious?  I don't mean to sound all pervy because he was young enough to be my son, but I'm just referring to how he was objectively so spectacular.  Ok,  it's probably best I get on to the mass itself.....

First of all the mass was held at 5pm instead of its usual 6pm so the congregants could get home in time to watch The New England Patriots play in the Super Bowl.  Also word was that there had been a special Super Bowl/Patriots mass earlier that morning.  This was a very modern Catholic church who clearly had its priorities straight.  But seriously, it was nice that it was so "with-it" as my mom would say.  There was even a real (electric guitar and bass) band not just a cheesy flute and acoustic guitar duo.  The songs - I wouldn't even call them hymns - were all uplifting.  This evening mass was especially designed for teens so there were a ton of them there and they did all the readings and helped pass out the communion which I thought was a big deal.  It was wonderful to see these kids doing something positive instead of skulking around the 7-Eleven trying to get someone to buy them beer.  Although who knows, maybe that's what they did the night before, but somehow I don't think so.  It really was a very happy, healthy place!

I don't even remember the priest's homily but I just felt good there.  Comforted and at peace.  It's hard to describe a spiritual feeling but when I closed my eyes I felt like I was floating along. Now was it because it specifically was a Catholic mass or because it it happened to be the right time and place for me to receive succor?  Who knows.  While it made me want to run out and go to another mass, for very practical reasons I wouldn't make a good Catholic.  I believe in birth control, divorce, homosexuality, and pre-marital sex.   And that women should be able to be priests if they want to; I don't approve of the whole patriarchal hierarchy thing.   Still, I'm not one to turn down an opportunity to feel good, so next time Kelly asks me to go to church with her I'll definitely say yes.

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