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It’s not going to come as a shock to anyone that the likelihood of me ever ending up a Catholic is slim (See also: never). I have no intention of becoming a Scientologist, either, but wild horses couldn’t keep me from attending a Dianetics lecture over the course of this project. Some Sundays, I see myself as a shopper and I’m genuinely looking for a church that fits well enough for me to take it home. Others weeks, I’m just a spectator looking for a good performance.
One of our favorite commenters, the lovely Jules, understood this when she invited us to join her for Ash Wednesday at St. Mary’s Cathedral. She knew we’d be attending as observers and she welcomed us anyway, bless her heart. I tried not to feel bad, because, as the woman sitting next to me who asked if we wanted to become Catholics said, “Don’t worry, it’s not like we get any extra heaven points for recruiting.”
So what did I observe? A whole lotta pomp and circumstance in a bright beautiful church.
I’m pretty sure all those pointy hats and velvet robes make the guilt taste better when you swallow it, but I found myself with a lot of questions like,
“Why does the priest SING all the prayers? Is it so he doesn’t forget them?”
“Why do altar boys always look so tortured and punished?”
“Why is that baby screaming so loud?”
“No seriously? Is that BABY DAMIEN?”
“I wonder what THAT chick’s sin was this week?”
“And ooh! What about THAT guy’s?”
CURIOUS MINDS WANT TO KNOW.
But then Jules’ lovely choir would stand up and haunt the air with the most spectacular harmonies I’ve ever heard and I would TOTALLY get it. Catholicism is ancient and beautiful. It reminds you that being human is ancient and beautiful. It’s strange and ritualistic, too, but that’s part of the appeal. Although, to be honest, the choir director had plenty of appeal herself. I know this is Catholic church and all, but she had these magnificently expressive hands and then she’d start singing along with the choir and I dunno, leave it to me to think of something better to do with those lips. And hands. Clearly I’m too queer to ever be Catholic.
“Be merciful o lord,” said the banner on the stage behind the choir, “for I have sinned.” If thinking dirty thoughts in church is a sin, then SIGN ME UP. Joel and I can think of some fun things to do in those confessional booths!
[Sorry, Jules!] [But you knew that already.]
I know it’s wrong, but I can’t help but think about sex in Catholic church. I once had a lover named John who was a staunch Catholic and I remember asking him once to share his faith with me, to take me to church with him so I could experience it as a way of bringing us closer together. His answer? “I can’t go because I can’t take communion until I’ve been to confession.” Apparently that thing we did Sunday morning before the church bells tolled was a huge sin.
Really? Because I just thought it was a beautiful expression of human affection.
In all seriousness, I thought the church was lovely. I thought the Archbishop delivered a warm, gentle sermon, in spite of the focus on all of us being sinning pieces of human waste. He was approachable and kind about it, which as far as I’m concerned is as much as you could care to ask for in a Catholic church. The Catholic church will always lose this erotica-writing pervert with its “sex for procreation only” stance, but it will never cease to get my respect. Especially if it continues to produce beautiful souls like John and Jules.