Mia: Shaken Not Stirred

The true life stories of a NYC female.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Mea Culpa

My friend Guay & her baby Alexander

For months Guay had been teasing me about the possibility that the statues would burst into flames the moment I stepped into the Catholic Church. My grievances with the Vatican are well known amongst my friends.

Guay,despite the fact that she hasn’t set foot in a church since she was a kid and most likely will never set foot in one again decided to have her son baptized last week. The baptism was not the result of faith or an understanding of the deeper meaning of the ceremony. It was about continuing a family tradition that had once been important to past generations.

It was a small baptism in the middle of a brutal heatwave with only ten people in attendance. The priest decided not to turn on the lights so as not to raise the temperature in the church. The result was beautiful and perfect. The sole source of light in the church was the afternoon sunlight. I believe that God is all around us and makes her presence known every day in little ways. Watching the sunlight filter in through the stained glass windows beaming on the marble altar and the baptismal font touched me profoundly.The beauty and symbolism were not lost on me.

The priest began the mass from the foot of the altar and I pretty much knew we were in deep poo when the priest began the Lord's prayer aka “Our Father” and no one but mom and me actually knew it. He looked pissed. For the remainder of the mass he constantly glanced at mom and me as if in need of support. Good thing for him mom had once been Catholic and my pops the family Roman Catholic made sure that his kids were familiar with the workings of a mass.

When he launched into the Confiteor we were ready for him. We weren't going to let him down. It had now become like rooting for a beloved but cursed babeball team during a crucial game. The priest was the NY Mets and we were the fans.Let's play ball! He was an old school guy reciting the Confiteor in Latin but like I said we had his back. You can’t be the daughter of a former altar boy and the descendant of Roman Catholics priests and nuns and not know this mass especially in Latin. When we recited the Confiteor with him his eyes opened wide in surprise and when we responded "Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea máxima culpa" complete with the hand movements he looked like the cat that had swallowed the canary. I decided then not to let the old guy know that niether mom nor I were Catholics. I didn't want to break his heart.

When the ceremony was over the priest posed for some photos with the baby. As we watched Guay cracked a joke about the church surviving my presence intact. I looked at her and joked back,“Yeah but at least I knew that when the priest said Mea Culpa he wasn’t referring to a song by Enigma.”
I swear I saw the priest stifle a laugh.

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