I am a non-practicing Catholic. My mom is quietly devout and she
dragged me kicking and screaming made me go to church every single stinking Sunday. Scratchy dress, Mary Jane shoes pinching my toes, and a scarf stapled to my head with a bobby pin. If I recall, when I was a little girl back in the dark ages, mass was said in Latin. I’m not sure. I’ve tried to blot the experience out of my mind. The only thing I liked about going to church was the music. The rest of it was torture.
I now don’t like to go to church because of the music. Breast cancer took my dear friend at age 36 and she left behind three young children. Sweet Cathy’s funeral was in a Catholic church. Her friend sang Amazing Grace a cappella and it laid me low. Read: box of Kleenex worth of sobbing. Cathy’s funeral gave me Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. If I hear music in a church, I start crying. I’m like one of Pavlov’s dogs.
Mom made me go to catechism from age five until I was a teenager. The church fancied up the name and now calls catechism C.C.D. The only thing I liked about catechism was snack time. I’m scarred for life from when one of my teachers, Brother Ignatius (or some other holy sounding name), told us to draw a picture of the Virgin Mary. Crayon in hand, I was stumped. I had colorer’s block and stared at the blank paper on my desk. Brother Iggy rapped my forehead with his knuckle and commanded, “Think!” They teach that excellent student motivational technique in seminary. It is the unit after “Wielding a Ruler.”
I don’t want to get in a religious debate here, but the Catholic Church has to reform. Don’t get me started on the child abuse issue.
So why, I ask you, why did I tear up when Pope Francis came out yesterday? No, not when he told the world he was gay, you silly. When he came out onto the balcony. It was the strangest thing. Me crying, not him being gay. (Let the record show, your Honor, I have no idea if he is gay.)
I dried my one tear and my next thought was, “Oh great . . . the cardinals elected another automaton.” I’ll cut the guy a little slack. I’m sure he felt sucker-punched and was thinking, “Holy shit. What have I gotten myself into?” Can the pope say shit?
Do you want to know why it took over an hour from the white smoke to getting to see who was behind door number two? You’ve come to the right place.
- The Vatican can speak to God, but they can’t predict the pope-to-be’s size. They had cassocks made in three sizes . . . Sacrament Small, Meditative Medium, and Liturgical Large. The popetress (that’s Latin for seamstress) whipped out her sewing machine and hemmed the cassock that fit Pope Francis the best across his shoulders and six-pack abs. There is a lot of material and layers involved, so the job took time. Can’t have the pope tripping on his hem at his debutante ball. Think of the YouTube hits that would generate. 2.5 seconds and it would be viral.
- Vatican scholars needed time to teach Pope Francis “The Wave.” No, not “The Wave” you do at football games. The official God-approved wave technique. Fingers together, small side to side movements, don’t look enthusiastic, keep your elbow tucked in . . . that sort of thing. Because Frannie, as I like to call him, is of Italian descent, teaching him “The Pope Wave” was a challenge. You know how Italians love to talk with their hands.
- You’ve heard of a pope room, right? According to UrbanDictionary.com:
“In a Portuguese or Italian family there is always a room that nobody goes into and sometimes has plastic on the couch. This room is designed and maintained strictly for the rare occurrence of the pope entering your home.”
“Get the cat out of the pope room. It’ll leave fur everywhere.”
“Go get the baby Jesus statue out of the pope room. I want to clean it, just in case.”
Come to find out, the Vatican has a pope room too. It is room with the balcony. Francis’s mom was there for his big day. She scolded the cardinals to stay off of the furniture in case the pope comes. She wouldn’t let Francis go out to play with his new friends, the masses, until he helped her move the furniture so she could vacuum. She gave him a dust rag and said, “Use the Pledge, not the Liquid Gold.”
I wish Frannie the best of luck in his new job. He has his work cut out for him. Little boys all over the world are counting on our new pope to keep them out of harm’s and lecherous priests’ way.
Go in peace and serve the Lord, Pope Francis. Amen.