Wednesday, March 14, 2007

... And also with you...

I went to Catholic school for fourth through eighth grade. I didn't think it was very Catholic, but it was the '70s and early '80s, when the Church was more responsive to the needs and sensibilities of its members. Or maybe it really wasn't a very Catholic school - certainly my experience with the administration led me to feel that way. I wasn't Catholic, but my mom had been and she attended Catholic schools when she was growing up, so she sent me to one when I graduated from the neighborhood elementary school.

The only religious event in five years that made any real impression on me was an Ash Wednesday Mass. Though I remember the Masses we sat through annually, I remember an Ash Wednesday Mass only in my fifth-grade year. We had been told to write a wish on a small piece of paper; these were collected by Father Mike and burned in a coffee can. It was my impression that the smoke was taking our wishes to God. I even sort of remember Father Mike telling me this while he dropped matches into the can, though now I can't imagine that I was with him while he was doing it. During the Mass, he used the ashes for smudging the foreheads of the faithful (which was almost everyone) during the service.

Years later I started hanging out with Pagans and learned that some of them did much the same thing, burning the papers or threads used in spells, carrying wishes and prayers up to the sky.

The most religious experience I ever had was one night when I was in college. A group of us were listening to the Beatles. It was dark, there were lit candles, we were passing a bottle of wine around, and the small room was filled with incense and the sound of "Hey Jude." We all felt joined together in peace.

No comments: