Sunday Secret

When I die, I want a great big Catholic funeral.

I want the music and the candles and that aerobics lesson they teach during Mass with the kneeling and the standing and the kneeling and the standing. It's lunges for Jesus, and I think it rocks.

Why would an atheist want a Catholic funeral? Because I love love love Catholic mass. I wasn't raised Catholic; in fact, I was raised in one of those kooky cults that thought Catholicism was the Anti-Christ. Maybe I have a bit of the old forbidden fruit complex.

The first time I ever went to Mass, it was for a funeral of a very good friends' grandma. She was very old, very Italian, and very Catholic, and her death was no surprise but her family was still rocked to the core. Josh and I stayed the whole weekend for them, cooking for the family of 16,000 and making phone calls they couldn't and running a few loads of laundry. We went to the wake, and I thought that was pretty nifty; it was nice, and just a bit gaudy, and it seemed to really bring them some comfort. The next day was the funeral.

The religion I was raised in has funeral that aren't' funerals at all. We all show up at church, which is more or less a great big lobby with a few microphones in it, and listen to someone talk about the person who died. There is no casket, there aren't any candles; nothing changes at all except that people cry a bit. And that's it. The family takes care of the burial, and if you're not family, you're not coming to the burial site. It's just not done.

Catholic funerals are the polar opposite of this. They are loud and there is incense and candles and wailing and singing and a full workout. I had never seen anything so over-the-top, so pushing the boundaries of reason and decorum, so out-right strange (at least to me). I loved it. I soaked up every second of it. I was moved to tears. I think it had to do with the way the sound in the church fills you, between the hymns and the organs (the Catholics really should go into the acoustics business), and how the light comes through the stained glass windows and the air is filled with the kind of light you know God intended light to look like. You can't help but get caught up in it.

I watched how the tired, worn, sad faces of my friends and their family changed, and calmed, and somehow that day they all remembered that they used to smile. Somehow, this hour long Jazzercise class took their pain away.

Since that day, I have had a secret Catholic church addiction. I find myself wandering past them for no good reason. There's this one on Colfax in Denver that, sometimes, when no one's looking, I have to go stick my head in for a few minutes.

I just crave it sometimes.