Saturday, March 22, 2008

Easter Vigil

Written Saturday, March 22.

Xteen and I are in New York visiting her folks. We are all technically Catholics, and Xteen's family decidedly more religious than I, so that resulted in us attending a surprisingly bilingual and extraordinarily unbrief Church service tonight. Now, I won't bore you with my own religious beliefs. Let's just say that I found some of the parts of the Mass to be extremely helpful to me in a religious nurturing experience and most of the other parts, I found to be robotic recitations that were really devoid of any emotion or conviction. But apart from me wrestling with my own religious issues on what is truly a glorious holiday, I found time to do a running diary to document the whole thing! Mmmmmm....sacrilicious. Enjoy!

7:25pm - Xteen and I meet her folks at the Church. At the back is a basket of small white candles haphazardly thrown into various and sundry plastic holders. The one I happen to grab appears to have been assembled by Stevie Wonder. The candle won't stand up straight and the holder has some ominous holes in it. This is truly an omen of things to come.

7:30 - The Mass begins. We are informed by the celebrant (in both English and foreboding Spanish) that we will be lighting our collective candles from a larger, more impressive fire, dubbed The Easter Candle. They will then magically turn off the sconces in the Church, allowing the candles to provide the only light. This sounds cool. The down side? The omnipotent Easter Candle is located outside. It's cold out. I understand Jesus died for my sins. For my own sake, I hope he died for my frostbite as well.

7:33 - Like cattle being led to slaughter we wait in a line to exit the Church. I'm holding my Stevie Wonder candle, slightly afraid of what awaits me in the field where the fire is. I've seen enough horror movies to know the next breath may be my last.

7:35 - I'm breathing, but also freezing my ass off and wishing for an Easter Bonfire instead of the now-puny-by-comparison Easter Candle.

7:36 - A strange woman lights my candle. This is not a euphamism for anything dirty, although I really wish it was.

7:38 - We all file back into the Church. I haven't seen this many handheld flames since REO Speedwagon played "Keep On Lovin' You" at the Tweeter Center back in '98.

7:40 - The opening song is being played. There are roughly 47 people playing various instruments and singing to the right of the altar. The first song has more verses than "American Pie". I look at my watch for the first time.

7:48 - "American Pie" ends. The Celebrant again welcomes us in two languages. I'm confused by the Spanish and can't exactly figure out the metaphor of the Chevy at the levee and the levee was dry. I chalk it up to drugs and turn my attention into figuring out if I can get out of this service in time to see the end of the Michigan State-Pittsburgh game.

7:50 - We are instructed to open up our booklets to page 36. At this point, I think it is totally cool that Jesus turned stones to bread at Cana, but I would have much preferred he turn my left man-boob into an arm so I could juggle opening a book and flipping to a specific page with navigating a fucking open flame.

7:55 - We are instructed to extinguish our candles, sit, and open to page 43.

7:55:02 - I can't see shit because the lights AND my Stevie Wonder candle are out. Let there be light indeed! Now, I know what Stevie Wonder feels like. Needless to say, I don't join in with the song, which is being sung in some English/Spanish hybrid, not unlike Gerardo's "Rico Suave". Hey, I eat 'em raw like sushi!

7:58 - A reading from the book of Genesis. Apparently, the Catholic Church can't even stomach the idea of a woman even pantomiming the word of God, so they have two people on the lectern. The woman, who sets everything up: "God said..." and then a guy who jumps in with a baritone of "Let there be crawling things and sea monsters" to which the woman provides an update, "So it was done." This went on for six days. In the story, that is. In reality, it only felt like three days. Look, everyone knows God is a dude. But I don't think the world would spin off its axis if a woman said that God said, "I'm bored. Let's make us some plants and trees and fruits with seeds that have seeds from which the fruit was borne and seeds to eat and plants to plant and trees to climb and rainbows and unicorns and puppy dogs, and Sex and the City, and..." Oh wait. Maybe it was a good idea not to have a chick say the words of God.

8:03 - Second reading. The woman says the phrase "chariots and charioteers" no fewer than 811 times. Apparently God didn't like the Egyptians too much. The reading was a little horrific in terms of its blantant misuse of Supreme power to indiscrimately murder, but it had the word "smote" in it, so it gets a thumbs up from me.

8:08 - A horrifically out of tune Spanish guitar plays a song. I'm really expecting to hear it segue into this, which would rule. Alas, it doesn't. So it doesn't.

8:10 - Another reading and it's not the Gospel. And it's being read entirely in Spanish. Uh...what? Am I in East L.A.? I get excited because I recognize the word "agua". My excitement lasts until...

8:12 - I look at my watch again. Dios mio!

8:14 - Yet another reading. Apparently, the whole Bible is up for grabs tonight. Again, this one is in Spanish. I hear the word "entonces" which makes me think of the driving cat on the old Saturday Night Live episodes. Ay Carumba!

8:17 - The musical accompaniment sings a song where they literally ask every person in Heaven, by name, to pray for us. I mean, I am not 100% sure that W.C. Fields is in Heaven and, if he is, if I really need his prayers in particular, but I guess I should be grateful of all the help I can get. I swear, Lou Bega's "Mambo #5" name-dropped fewer people.

8:20 - The Gospel is read in two languages, so it takes about as long as Methuseleh is old. Kids in the congregation have taken to eating paint in the hopes of ending their misery. No amount of Cadbury Creme Eggs is worth this. I giggle every time I hear them say "Hey Zeus".

8:26 - The homily, or sermon, is said by the priest and this is actually my favorite part. Instead of just reading out of a book, this is where the priest raps freestyle to the congregation. This is exactly like "Hustle and Flow", only it is a white guy and he's talking about God. So, I guess it is pretty much nothing like "Hustle and Flow".

8:31 - They announce they are going to be doing individual Baptisms and Confirmations at this service, because apparently, they have some extra time. That's great. It's only beer o'clock on a Saturday night and the NCAA tournament is in full swing. I have nothing else to do. My Stevie Wonder candle is again lit, this time by a Spanish altar boy who was like 7 years old, but had a mustache that would have made "Crazy Little Thing Called Love"-era Freddie Mercury bunched with jealousy.

8:33 - A man named Frank approaches the altar to get Baptized. Frank is about 33 years old. This is actually a pretty cool thing to behold. They pour water on his head and send him off to disappear behind a secret Batcave door at the back of the altar that the priest triggered by shifting the head on a faux Beethoven bust. My concern for Frank, a stranger whom I have never met, inexplicably reaches Defcon 5. I've seen enough horror movies to know Frank's next breath may be his last.

8:36 - I turn to Xteen, legitimately concerned, and say, "Uh...what did they do with Frank?" Xteen laughs.

8:36:01 - My Stevie Wonder candle leaks fiery hot wax through the hole in the holder, scalding my thumb and forefinger. I look Heavenward and say aloud, "What'd I do? I just want to know what they did with Frank."

8:39 - A confirmation. I dozed off because it was said all in Spanish. I smiled in my sleep because I dreamed they said "Hey Zeus" again.

8:44 - Another confirmation. This one I take note of because it is in English. Also, because the to-be confirmed girl is about 16 and her sponser is a 14 year old boy. The priest asks the sponser if he will be making sure that the girl follows Jesus and the Catholic Church. The boy, stunned, utters, "I was told there would be cookies."

8:48 - Just as everyone is applauding for the new confirmees, David Copperfield, I mean, Frank appears through the secret door! He's wearing a white robe! He might quite possibly be dead and I'm the only one that can see him. Take that, Haley Joel Osment!

8:51 - More blessings for more people. The priest calls someone who is not Frank "Francis". I think he is drunk. I wish I was.

8:53 - More Spanish. I have no idea what is going on. Arsenio kicks it over to the house band that starts a song that Xteen is convinced is called "Where'd Suzy Go?" Now that makes no sense at all whatsoever. If it sounded like "Where'd Frank Go?", she might have been on to something. Turns out the song is called "Resucito", which is Spanish for "What the hell is going on here?" You wanna know how long this song lasts for? Go listen to "Freebird". Then watch "Waterworld". Then play a game of Risk with five other people until one person wins.

9:01 - Communion. This is where we eat the Body of Christ. Not wafer-thin pieces of styrofoam that symbolize the Body of Christ. But the actual Body of Christ. Kinda gross. Makes me think of that movie "Alive" and Haley Joel Osment: "I eat dead people."

9:03 - Whilst in the Communion line, I notice that everyone is passing on the Blood of Christ. Apparently eating flesh is fine and dandy, but folks emphatically draw the line at drinking blood, even if it tastes like Boone's Farm Apple Wine.

9:10 - Communion ends. The priest, after chugging all of the Blood of Christ that no one drank, appears confused. He looks over to the Church band as if to say, "Am I singing lead on this one?" He skips entire parts of the closing prayer. After all this time, THIS is the place to cut corners. He's definitely mailing it in at this point. Probably has some serious cake on Michigan State.

9:13 - The closing song. There will be no encore. And, for that, we are all grateful and give glory to God.

9:15 - The good news: FREEDOM!!!! The bad news: I'm probably going to hell.

- Dim.
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