Thursday, May 6, 2010

Because I Can Always Go to Mass

Drink too much last night? You can go to Mass this morning. Argue stupidly with your spouse about matters that seem trivial in the new day's light? Christ awaits you in the Eucharist. Thrashing over a problematic relationship or a financial problem? Somewhere right now a priest is saying Mass. Pinwheeling through life without a clear sense of direction at work, at home, in love or friendship? The church door is unlocked somewhere near you, and Mass is about to begin.

It is a glorious spring morning in Massachusetts, and this train of thought rumbled through my brain as I parked my car on Cabot Street and looked up at friends entering St. Mary's ahead of me. Daily Mass is not an obligation. It is not something you do for "extra credit" and it never quite feels like "just a habit." It is an anchor to windward, a dependable oasis, the place I'm always glad I came back to.

This morning I kept looking around for my friend Bob, who wrote a couple of touching comments on a recent post of mine that has caused some heartache (the post, not Bob's comments). Bob wasn't there. (He runs his own business, has three young kids and a wife who works too—under the circumstances, who could possibly have the time? But he's often there anyway, in the back on the left.) I particularly wanted to see him this morning, but others were there, and it was good to see them: Frankie G. in the front row as always, beside Chris and just ahead of Phyllis and Henry. Jolyne and Ferde and Heidi just behind me. And Dottie at the other end of my pew, and Flo and Maria directly across the center aisle. I love seeing Bill and Joe and Tom, and Lorrie, John, and Patty too. Brothers Tony, Frank, and John are usually side by side behind me to the left, but Frank was AWOL today. (He's serving at a 9 a.m. funeral Mass.) And others. Many others. Morning Masses at 7 a.m. in Beverly draw between fifty and a hundred people, a tribute to Father Barnes and also to the Catholic bloodlines of Beverly, which has been favored by many, many Irish and Italian families over the past couple of centuries. I honestly consider each of the "regulars" a friend.

Becoming a Catholic is just absolutely the best thing that ever happened to me. And daily Mass, with the friendship we all share, is the one place each day where I am truly fed.