Wednesday, June 29, 2005

I Forgot One

One more weird Catholic thing - although this is really more about my OCD streak than I usually care to reveal. You've seen Catholics do the sign of the cross (do other Christians do it? I don't know). We say "In the name of the Father," (touch the forehead) "and of the son," (touch the chest) "and of the Holy" (left shoulder) "Spirit," (right shoulder), Amen."

So when we were learning how to do it, I guess in first grade or so, it was explained to us that you begin a prayer with the sign of the cross (SOTC) so you'd get God's attention. Like, "Hey, God, gonna pray right now, so listen up, yo." They likened it to picking up the telephone - it was like we were opening the line to God, then we'd talk to him, and then we'd do the SOTC again at the end of the prayer, and that was like hanging up. This was their explanation for why we do the SOTC at the beginning and end of each prayer. Fairly reasonable explanation to a bunch of 6-year-olds, right?

Except that I, again, took it quite literally.

When we enter church, we put our fingers in a bowl of unsanitary "holy" water and make the SOTC. No problem - we're picking up the telephone line as we enter God's house (with Jesus in that little house on the altar), right?

Except that we make the SOTC again when we genuflect before entering a pew inside the church. If we picked up the telephone line when we entered the church, it stands to reason, then, that if we make the SOTC again, we're hanging up, right? And therefore God won't hear any of the prayers we might make as we kneel in the pew before Mass starts.

So, the solution, of course, is to surreptitiously cross oneself quickly after entering the pew, thus picking up the telephone line again. Phew.

Except - we make the SOTC again when we finish prayer and sit down in the pew. Well, there we go hanging up again! Again, a quick SOTC must be made in order to keep the communication lines open.

Except - here comes the priest and he opens the mass by making the SOTC again! Crap! Now the Mass won't count because we just hung up on God! Do it again, quickly! Get him back on the line! And so on.

The Mass ends with, again, the SOTC, and if I'd kept up, I was saying my goodbyes to God and hanging up appropriately. Except...I had to cross myself AGAIN with the holy water as I left the church, thus picking up the telephone line again. It wouldn't do to leave the line open like that, because God would think everything I thought from that point on was a prayer, and I just didn't need that kind of responsibility. So, again, a quick SOTC as we got in the car, and everything's kosher, so to speak.

I did wonder why no one else seemed to be compulsively crossing themselves - if what the nuns said was true, was it possible that I was the ONLY ONE who'd figured this out? Yes, as a matter of fact, it was.

2 comments:

liannallama said...

Oh, man! I never thought of it that way! I'm going to try to forget about your post so I don't start doing that too!

Thanks for your funny post about your SOTC quirks--it had me literally LOL!

And mine--I have to use my ring finger to dip the holy water out for some reason--any other finger's just not quite right! And those churches with the big basins of holy water--they kinda freak me out--like the "holy" has been diluted into the big bowl. It's much more concentrated in the little wall fonts!

Michelle -talonsmommy said...

LOL! You are so funny! ;)

Michelle Underwood

 
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