A couple of months ago, I decided to reach deep back into the disorganized Catholic recesses of myself and start attending mass again. St. Mary's of the Assumption is a church about six blocks riverside from my house, right where the neighborhood starts turning from gentrified and into pro-homicide. I like to think the church somehow keeps the peace between the two, and the crowd that shows up on Sundays proves it. The first time I went there, I wore a dress and heels. Now I have pretty much started attending in my pajamas, since I saw the the guy in crotch-height cut-offs and a t-shirt saying "Yes, I AM an asshole."
But it is a diverse church, full of Latinos, blacks, whites still slightly hungover from other heavenly habits from the night before and old run-down southern society women who relish the readings. Who practice in front of the mirror whilst peeling off the cobwebs. Miss Havishams with emerald rosaries and silly hats. The first time I went there, hungover myself, the reading happened to be about circumcision (apparently not biblically required). Just imagine the effect. Just imagine the further effect of when I grabbed my-then boyfriend's leg to keep him from laughing but misjudged and grabbed something else.
The Virgin Mary definitely has a sense of humor. You'd have to. We're all so tremendously silly. It's either that or weep. And she can ascend anytime she wants in that case.
For awhile I went to St. Mary's rather regularly, where I would find to my astonishment that the church newsletter is more concerned with whether practicing on home turf will affect the Saints' performance this year, little league is now admitting girls (but god help them if they want to be altar boys) and the church needs about a billion dollars to get it back to its original splendor and somehow that amount only seems to be reduced about $2.00 a week. Half of the place looks like St. Paul's post-blitz, the confessions booths are at full tilt, and part of the booths blocked off with fragile ribbon have holes so deep into the vault I am sure that if I dared peek over skeletal smiles of old Orleanians would greet me. The relatives of the Miss Havishams who occupy the pulpit perhaps.
St. Mary's has confession once a week, from 3:15-3:45 Tuesday afternoons. Perhaps this is because no one goes. Or maybe they are on to the people like me, who use confession as a way to avoid paying someone $100.00 to hear my horrible secrets. I may have to branch out on this point.
Despite my attendance, I still have not learned the names of the priests, so in my head, they are Father Silver-Fox-Maybe-Patrick(?) and Father Guy-Whose-Nose-Bled-While-Breaking-The-Flesh-of-Christ. They are both lovely and have targeted me as a potential faithful attendee, cornering me in my pew toward the back with niceties. This embarrasses me because I may be the only person in the church who actually doesn't believe in God, but also because sometimes (shh) I find myself a little teary-eyed for no particular reason at all.
I've fallen off my little routine. Work's been kicking my ass (I have to find some funds to help raise the church again, right?). I go to brunch with my heathen girlfriends. A friend in a time zone six hours away calls. I sleep in. Like tomorrow, I get club seat Saints tickets - although mass is usually canceled for midday games so I don't feel so bad about that one. And somehow falling out of that routine, has made my life fall out of so many others that I need.
Point being, I miss you St. Mary's.
I miss you very much and only God knows why.
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