I was at Mass recently--the 4:00 Lady's Mass--which my agent informed me, "It's not as good as the Sunday Mass, Ann." She was more devout than I, more obedient than I (almost anyone is more obedient than I), and a cradle Catholic, unlike me, a scatty convert of16 years ago.

I may not always make it to Mass, but I generally am there--standing, bowing, kneeling, crossing myself, praying for my cancer buddies, passing the peace, and more. Each morning I read "Give Us This Day," a Catholic Lectionary of the daily readings.  I pray--if my stuttering attempts to contact God count--avoid occasions of sin like riding a bicycle without a helmet or gossiping. But it's so much fun, God!

But on this recent Sunday I had trouble keeping my attention on the Sacred Mysteries. I kept getting distracted by--

--The fine behind of the man in front of me. He was clearly younger than I (most people are), and I just admired his fundament as a lovely thing to look at. Then I realized I was probably committing a sin, and I'd better get my mind off a good masculine body and back to the business at hand--i.e., worshipping God.

--Next came the first hymn. I sang lustily, thoroughly enjoying raising my voice in song. But I faltered at one of the verses where the words were being "prostrate before the Lord," and I had sung, "prostate before the Lord."  I tried to control my giggles, but it was a struggle. If I told you that far too many men in my life have struggled with prostate cancer, you will realize how deeply embedded this word is in my bones.

--While standing later to say the Lord's Prayer (and don't I love the sound of all of our voices together), I noticed the statue of St. Jude off to the right of the altar, this being the week of Novenas to St. Jude. I know Novenas are important to many Catholics, but frankly, I've never quite gotten this. As I gazed at the brown-robed saint I noticed this little plug erupting from the top of his skull.  What in the name of all that's holy is THAT?

Out of nowhere I remembered Mr. Potato Head which my kids used to play with, sticking ears on, putting lips in, and more. Poor St. Jude's head resembled the old plastic toy with some accessory poked in his head. And it wasn't until I got home that I learned from my husband--another convert--that the strange "plug" on top of St. Jude's head is meant to represent the tongue of flame during Pentecost. Go figure. A brown
flame that looks like an addition to Mr. Potato head.

It was not a stellar Mass. Not because of the Presider, the hymns, the liturgy, the people, or any of that--because of me--Bad Catholic Broad.  I think I am going to have to go read "The Confessions" of St. Augustine as penance, and probably practice "guarding my gaze," as the monks used to do.


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