High Mass, Low Mass, No Mas! by Mike Marino "Holy Communion, Batman"!! The Batman and Robin...

the Dark Knight and the Boy Wo nder! The Parish Padre and the Alter Boy. The Dark Knight of the the Comic Book Template Templar guarding the chalice of Christ. Dressed in bullet proof double rubber vestments fighting immoral mortal sin and handing out penance like so muc h Pez spilling from a pinata. Whoa! Ok, so I was raised a Catholic the church sc ared the living hell out of me...on the upside, yes, black patent leather shoes do reflect upwards which had to be hell for every plaid skirted Catholic school girl, but a peek at heaven above and beyond for every young Catholic school boy who walked the hallowed halls haunted by nuns with bad habits using semi-automat ic rosaries as weapons with Hail Mary beads as big as Buicks and a monster cruci fix affixed to the end of it, locked and loaded, a bayonet ready to charge into flesh on the field in "Paths of Glory" Growing up Catholic in an Eye-talian Catholic neighborhood on the Catholic easts ide of Detroit, Michigan you learn that it is a sin to be anything other than a Catholic. We have purgatory after all. How many other religions can claim that? Jesus was hanging out with Barabbas and the other biblical wise guy hanging on a cross. (only when someone is nailed to it is it called a crucifix, sans human f lesh, a mere cross to bear) Purgatory is similar in theory to a Greyhound Bus De pot anywhere in the U.S. You have your ticket punched but you don't know if your going to San Francisco (heaven) or South Bend, Indiana (hell on earth) and you sit on a hard bench with an odd assortment of people, much like yourself, hung o ut to dry with a penny in your pocket to spare. You get baptized at birth, which is getting the registration and title to a car. Following are the various catholic "maintenance tune-ups" ...Holy Communion, co nfirmation (affirmation of something). Once all these borders are crossed you're in the big leagues and out of the minors. A Toledo Mudhen becomes a Detroit Tig er. You now enter the ballpark of the pros...the right to confess your sins. It doesn't get much better than that for a Catholic. This is where you get to go in to a small booth and confess to masturbation, swearing, thinking bad thoughts ab out others, lying, etc to a man who sits behind a gauze screen who recognize and he knows your voice. It's Father Flanagan and you are boyâ s town. Guys confess more because we feel guiltier than girls and besides, we are scum anyway as most of our fantasies are dirty and involve girls. Sex guilt in the world of Catholicism is as common as sex abuse cases by priests from Boston to San Francisco. The priest listens attentively, and then makes a judgment call when all is said and done and diligently dispenses penance to you as though he were a judge at Nu remburg sentencing Goering to hang until dead. Usually a couple of Hail Mary's a nd Our Fathers will get you off the hook along with a sad, head hung low forlorn look as you walk to the pews to be penitent. All eyes upon you from others just as guilty of sin as you. Sheepish flocks being watched over by sheepish shepard s. You could get nailed with the Act of Contrition...which is akin to the death sentence in a capital murder trial. It is the lethal injection of all prayers an d if you were a flagellant you would be beating your flesh with an assortment of whips of reeds. Holy Communion is at first unsettling as the unleavened wafer is lowered onto th e tongue top like a cherry on a sundae. The body of Christ, for Christâ s sakes. A th in Necco wafer that we crunched as kids now a symbolic body to be hosannaâ s and hall elulia'd over inferring the second coming...catholic cannibalism if you ask me. The wafer thin wafer must dissolve of its own free will...your teeth can't touch it, you can't touch it with your fingers, and it must just...poof! Disappear in to the bowels of your body without aid or assistance. Unfortunately...it would s ometimes stick to the roof of your mouth, and not in your hands, a real M&M of a deal. So take your prayer pose hands and with the two index fingers, touching I ndian teepee style, insert them into your mouth to recon the upper palate..locat

e the offending dough and dislodge, all unseen by the pious in pews around you i n a penitent pose kneeling on kneelers that resemble real bleeders. A catholic school boy, as all young boys will do, suffer from hero worship. Some adult that stands out...good or bad and the kid wants to grow up to be just lik e them. I'll bet even Ted Bundy had his admirers. In this case however it's the catholic kidâ s ambition to grow up from the pupa stage of mere altar boy to become a full fledged colorful butterfly of a priest. Holy vestments, colorful and flowi ng, like a Cristo art project on a California hillside. Lutheran kids have less flamboyant role models with their ministers, dull by standards and not in posses sion of the purse full of abundant Liberace flair that a parish padre possesses. Besides Lutheran kids want to be cops when they grow up, gun and badge and all, while Jewish kids dream of a career as a doctor or a comedian in the Catskills. Catholic schoolgirls on the other hand, rarely want to become nuns...mostly repr essed in elementary school they want to uncork and let loose...they don't want t o be nuns anymore then they want to be lady golfers. They mainly want to marry r ich, Catholic and get past their first period without embarrassing themselves in class or the locker room. Catholic mass is another thing altogether. It has mysticism, mystery, and magic. .of sorts. The High Mass, the dreaded one hour job, has the density of the gravi tational field of the planet Jupiter when it comes to pomp and pomposity. Incens e dolled out over the head of the pious filling the room like so much mustard ga s in a World War I French trench, and the holy water dispensed from a wand up an d down the aisles and falling on the heads of the praying congregation...holy wa ter dispensed in such a fashion has one purpose and one purpose only...to ferret out any reluctant vampires that may be hiding among the holy. Holy water will b low their cover faster than a roadside bomb taking out a Humvee in Iraq. The High Mass, Low Mass indicator is the number of candles lit on the altar when you go in prior to service. Two candles, short Readers Digest abridged version. Six Candles? You're in big time trouble. An hour minimum with all the rites tos sed in like a Caesar salad. It's an easy code, this two candle, six candle thing , to break. Especially the High Mass..it brings the priest out in vestments so b right and colorful, you'd think you stumbled into the backstage area of an Elton John Concert as the priest is decked out in more colors than Sonny Barger at a Hells Angels funeral in Oakland, California. So if you were raised Presbyterian...Baptist...Jewish...Muslim...count your bles sings. Growing up Catholic, I only have one thing to say...High Mass, Low Mass.. ..No Mas! Now, about those reflecting patent leather shoes...they reveal the won ders of the potential of a pubescent Garden of Hedon!

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