I generally stay away from religion in this blog both because it is a polarizing issue for many people and I think mixing my sexual escapades with religion is just plain weird. And kind of creepy. But I have to bring this up today, because it's been bothering me all day, and it's my blog so I can do whatever I want.
Today I went to mass. I am not Catholic, but I do occasionally go to mass, mainly because the Cathedral has mass every day, whereas my church just has church on Sundays. So on days when I feel like I need to do some more formalized God talkin', I go to mass. I went to mass today because it is Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday, apart from being the day after Fat Tuesday, also happens to be the kick off day for lent. I went to mass because I knew I'd be working late and I would miss the service at my church.
It happens every year. Ash Wednesday rolls around, and suddenly lunchtime mass, which usually has about two dozen people or so, is packed, packed with "devout" Catholics. I don't get this because my friend Catholic Dennis, who is really really really Catholic, assures me that Ash Wednesday is not, in fact, a Holy Day of Obligation, meaning attendance is not required. And yet they all show up. Fine. I'm not going to begrudge people going to church. But if it means so much to them, why are they still streaming in the door fully 20 minutes after mass has started? Why? It's disruptive. Do these same people show up to business meetings 20 minutes late? And THEN, they can't even wait until the service is over either! They get dirt on their heads, they get their wafer and they run out the door.
Catholic Dennis postulates that people show up on days when they get something for free. I think he may be on to something. Ash Wednesday? Congratulations! Here's your dirt. St. Blaise day? Glad you could make it, here let me stick this candle against your neck, you'll feel better. Huge Blow Out Redemption Sale! Crazy low prices! Hurry in, these offers can't last forever! Seriously. I think they show up so they can get ashes on their head, and in so doing, look pious to all their friends and co-workers. This point was further driven home by Catholic Dennis, in a little story he told me from today. After mass was completely over, he was standing around talking to the priest and the other servers (Den not only goes to mass every day but also serves several times a week. He's way wicked Catholic.) when three guys walked up and said "Hey, um, we kind of ran over at lunch chit-chatting about stuff and we missed mass. Can we still get some ashes?" Gggghhh!
The ginormous irony here is that if they had shown up for mass (and were paying attention), the Gospel reading for today and for every Ash Wednesday talks about how you're not supposed to go around wearing your religion on your sleeve to impress people. Hilariously, they all show up today to do exactly that.
Bottom line: If you don't want to go, don't go. Wearing ashes on your head makes you look silly, and you are silly if that's the only reason you went.
K, now that that's out, I need a penance for lent. I had a friend once who gave up porn for lent. So that one's out. Others?