Karma is a funny thing. It doesn’t matter what you tell yourself to justify an action that you truly believe is wrong; the universe knows you’re cheating.
Case in point: we went to church yesterday morning for Easter Sunday, and that got us into trouble. Well, wait, I suppose that’s not exactly true. The trouble wasn’t because we went to Mass, but because we didn’t get there early enough. Oh, and it was sunny, but that’s a different post.
Anyway, so we arrived at our church just in time for the Processional (which is when the priest and his people enter). Yes, we probably should have arrived earlier, but
- we have 4 relatively young children,
- we were actually up and coordinated early enough, even on Easter Sunday, to make the 9:30 Mass, which theoretically should have been the less well-attended of the morning services, and
- we have 4 relatively young children.
Unfortunately, by the time of our arrival, the place was packed to the rafters. Father Ed was rocking the 9:30 AM show, standing room only. A wise man might have packed his family into the Odyssey and gone for donuts or something with the intention of returning for the 11:30 service, but, as I’ve proven time and time again, I am not a wise man. We thus decided to stand for the duration of Mass, with our four relatively young children.
Some of you are probably shaking your heads in fear at the idea of keeping four young children from initiating WrestleMania 82 in the back of the church, given no alternative but to stand still for an hour and pay attention to a priest on Easter morning, after 2 hours of sugar loading. I am proud to say that with the exception of a very few minor instances of finger pointing, my children behaved exceptionally well.
I got into trouble all by myself, without any sugar.
In a Catholic Mass, by the time the partaking of Communion rolls around, pretty much everyone has had enough and is ready to leave; especially since once you finish with that, there’s nothing left but the closing blessing and the Recessional. So then, it’s fairly common for some people to get their tasty wafer and then head on out the back towards their car.
I have very little tolerance for this sort of thing. If you’re going to go to Mass, by God, you should Do It Right. That includes staying until the end, since it isn’t officially over until the priest says, “Go in peace”. However, yesterday morning I found myself standing in the church doorway holding my 17 month-old son for an hour. He’s not a small 17 month-old either; he’s off both the height and weight charts for a boy of his age. What I’m saying is that I spent an hour effectively trying to hold a wiggly curling stone, which is both tiring and trying.
Thus it was that at some point during the service, with my biceps screaming in agony, I turned to the Puddinette and told her that this one time, I’d be willing to leave after Communion. And we did. And as we walked out the doors, children in tow, we ran smack into the parish’s second priest, who makes it a habit to arrive just as Mass is winding down, to greet parishioners as they go about their merry way.
“Happy Easter,” he said smiling politely.
What I heard, of course, was, “I see you there, sinner, ducking out early. Is it too much to give the Lord, who gave you life and salvation, 5 more minutes of your precious time?”
I’m sure my face was torch red as I bid him a Happy Easter and herded my children toward the van. As we walked away, I could feel his eyes on me, burning the mark of abandonment onto my hypocritical back with his searing Sinner Vision.
In reality, I understand that he was probably just happy that we even bothered to attend Mass. I doubt he gave our slightly early departure a second thought; we weren’t even the first ones out the door. I can’t help but think, though, that there’s nothing quite like the pleasant smile of judgment on the parish priest’s face when you’re caught, red-handed, sneaking out of Mass, on Easter.