I grew up Methodist and went to an Episcopalian school, so I’m quite secure in being sure of absolutely nothing. What I do love is the ritual and ceremony involved in other religions. I used to make my friend Jonathan take me to temple with him in Chicago. I’d ask questions, and he’d tell me to ask our other friend, Brian.
I like going to Mass with Eric’s family. It feels like a sociology project, like observing tribes in their natural setting, trying to glean meaning from their customs. I have lots of questions, but they aren’t of lofty ecumenical debate. Mine are more of a practical nature.
For instance, it’s common knowledge that if you want to sell your house, you buy a St. Joseph statue kit, bury him upside-down, facing the street next to the For Sale sign. Duh! He even comes with a pointy hat, so you can drive him like a stake in the ground. What happens though (I’m speaking completely hypothetically here) if you use your foot to drive him forcefully into the ground and snap him in two accidentally? Would that be, again hypothetically speaking, a one-way trip to hell? Not that it matters. Metho-palian girl is already on the no-return flight.
Communion is fascinating. I get the whole trans-substantiation argument, and I get why protestants chose to go the other way. That’s a logistical nightmare. Once the bread and wine has been changed to body and blood, there’s no going back. And apparently you have to store what wasn’t used in Communion in a special box. Here’s what I want to know, is there some FIFO system where the oldest Host gets used first? Is there an expiration date on God? What happens if the priest drops Jesus? I’m assuming you can’t bring out the Dust Buster.
And how about the to-go box? I thought maybe a woman was going in for seconds. I have learned that’s for delivery to shut-ins. Do you have to deliver it within a certain window? Is there a blessing half-life?
I know you can’t chew the wafer. You wouldn’t want to be flossing out the Lord later. I’m always prepared with the Heimlich when Eric tries to swallow the giant piece of Methodist bread whole. He doesn’t view it as the half-way point snack that most of the rest of us do.
I know I can’t take Communion at Mass, so I only know what I can observe from afar. I like to count old school tongue takers vs. the palm takers. I’m pretty sure there is a trapdoor for interlopers that can’t pass the complicated response and secret handshake. It’s a good excuse, though, not to have to drink out of the same cup as my 500 closest friends. I avoid the handshake too, if I can manage it. Wearing shoes with complicated laces that are notorious for coming undone is a good trick.
I’m always confused when to sit, stand, or kneel; when the large genuflection is in order vs. just the mini head version. Eric explained it once, but he’s not a very reliable source and can’t be trusted. Once at a funeral I was closest to the aisle, so stood up when it was time for Communion to let his family file past. They all sat there tying their complicated shoes, looking at the heathen standing in the aisle trying to crash Communion.
Yep, straight to the fiery pits. I guess it’s a good thing I’m generally unsure of their existence.