I went to Ash Wednesday services yesterday at lunchtime at a nearby white bread DFW suburban parish. It was the first time for me to visit this church, but it's convenient to the office, and one of my office BFFs who is a much better Catholic than I was along for the ride. And it was the first time in MANY years I've made it to an Ash Wednesday service.
Several things struck me about my day.
From the outside, this beautiful church looks like a mosque. It has huge golden domes around the spires of the church and looks much more middle eastern than anything in Coppell, TX has a right to look. Is it actually possible to be a lapsed Baptist Catholic Muslim? And if so, does that make me a Labatholim?
LOTS of working class folks made it to this mass. Coppell is near Las Colinas which has a pretty substantial population of office workers, and it's the nearest parish, so by default, that's where we ended up. And there were hundreds of us.
Coppell has LOTS of stay at home moms with little kids. And I think all of them were at the noon mass. At one point, I was so distracted by the noise from the children that I forgot where I was and why I was there. My friend who has an infant daughter said she didn't even hear the kids. Go figure.
I'm pretty sure the Monsignor was Dennis Miller and the Cantor was Barry Manilow. At least is certainly sounded like it over the din of all the little chillin. The church was so big that I couldn't see either one of them, but I'm pretty sure they both represented yesterday.
Regardless of how long it had been for me, the familiar words and intonation of the mass filled me with peace and settled my soul.
I was raised Baptist but am Catholic by choice. After kneeling for way too long, I have determined that parts of me will always be Baptist. Like my thighs and my glutes, who haven't seen that kind of sustained muscle activities for a long dang time. Write your own jokes here, Protestants.
It is absolutely amazing to me that as I listened to the Ash Wednesday mass, Catholics all over the Central time zone were hearing almost the exact same words (except homily) at the exact same time as I was hearing them. Remarkable! Say what you will about individual worship - I'm all about drinking the group koolaid.
If we are to fast with bright shiny faces that give no indication of our sacrifice, give alms without trumpeting our generosity, and pray in secret, then why is it that our foreheads are marked with ashes for all to see? Are we out there, or not? I'm confused.
All told, I'm glad I went yesterday. It was a good reminder to me of why we do what we do, and I am glad I was with my friend. And as always, I was grateful that my friend was with me.