Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Mass

The story of my immediate family is a complex and convoluted one of which I will spare you the details in this sitting. I will mention, however, that my dear and sainted mother was a Catholic. She was born in 1914, entered the convent around 1930 and got a dispensation from Rome in 1954 when she entered private life for the first time. By November of that year she had met and married my dear father who was baptized as an Episcopalian at birth but, upon the early death of his father, his mother dragged him through a circus of assorted faiths. The Masonic Lodge brought him back to his Episcopalian roots, though not passionately – he treated the lodge as his church. When they married, however, he signed an agreement that all progeny would be raised in the Roman Catholic Church, so I was raised such.

By the time I was born in 1963, however, the Second Vatican Council was in full stride, and by the time I was aware of my faith, the Mass was celebrated in the vernacular, round churches were being built, the alter was turned around so that the Mass was delivered to the onlookers, rather than the priest and onlookers all respectfully facing the Eucharist. These were some of the changes made to the church, and they were cosmetic, made to make the Mass more accessible to parishioners. Despite the fact that the changes were not fundamental to the church, they were sufficient to cause my dear mother, a devout Catholic, to drift away rather quickly. Despite this fact, religion was present in my household. My parents, my father in particular, took his contract with the Church quite seriously, and I was made acutely aware of my Catholicism. I was taught the catechism, he said prayers with me nightly, and he taught me how to say a really good Act of Contrition. I have received the Host a few times in my life, though not often enough for my comfort. Sadly, I was raised to be uncomfortable in the post Vatican II Church.

Before my dad passed on, on Saint Nicholas Day 2000, he asked that I go to church. Not a lot of explanation, but he asked. You see, despite the fact that the mentally retarded "M.D." that was secured by the evil, stupid and morbidly obese court appointed conservator, Carolyn Young of Carolyn Young Fiduciary Services in Sacramento, California, declared my father to be suffering from advanced stage Alzheimer's Disease, I was able to carry on a fully lucid two hour conversation with him two days before he died. Despite the fact that I do try hard to be a forgiving Christian gentleman, I harbor a good deal of wrath towards that particular sub-human and her vile minions.

Pardon my digression. The short version is that Dad asked me to go to church, and I have not done so very well. At his gravesite, however, Father Francis Lawlor of St. Rose's in Sacramento spoke. Father Lawlor is an ancient Irish priest who, as it happens, sings the high Mass in Latin every Sunday. He celebrated midnight Mass on Christmas Eve of 2000 in memory of my dad. Since then I have remained a stalwart non-church-goer, I am sorry to say. A good friend of mine, however, not only is a good Catholic and Christian gentleman, but he is willing to track down traditional Masses for the two of us to attend, which is something I appreciate deeply. We are going on this coming Sunday. On Christmas Eve I hope to take my dear wife to midnight Mass at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, which should be a stunning experience. She is passionately a non-church person, but I think that she will enjoy that.

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