In 1962 the pope convened his cardinals for an ecumenical council aimed at modernizing the Catholic Church. The most noticeable change came with the abandonment of Latin for the Litany of the Mass. No more 'mea culpas' or 'sanctus sactus sanctus'. The priests intoned the ancient texts in English stripping away the magic of the Mass Sunday by Sunday.
As a secret atheist I stopped attending church after graduating from St. Mary's of the Foothill, except for high holidays such as Easter or Christmas. My last confession was heard in 1967 and I haven't prayed to 'God' for over fifty years, however some practices have resisted my apostasy.
I light candles before the statue of St. Brigid of Clare in St. Padraic's Cathedral, because this pagan-born saint bears the same name as a powerful Druidic goddess of fire, Brigid, , dedicated to enlightening mankind through music, arts, and poetry. Her feast day coincides with Groundhog's Day. I also celebrate St. Padriac's Day with the holy sacrament of Beer. Lastly every Ash Wednesday I submit to placing ashes on my forehead, since this rite dated back to the dawn of time as a act of repentance and most certainly I have done some bad things in my life.
This year I got my ashes (from burnt palm leaves) from my niece's forehead.
No priest for me.
"What are you giving up for Lent?" she asked as we strolled down 5th Avenue.
"Hard liquor and cigarettes." I had consumed my fill at a Mardi Gras party.
"I'm giving up Diet-Coke." Courtney was a very devote Coke drinker.
"Does that mean you're switching to Pepsi."
"My lips have never touched a Pepsi."
No soda was a big sacrifice for someone in their 20s.
"I'll give it up too." I had drank a can of Diet-Coke the previous day. "But nothing else."
Porno-surfing would have been more extreme, but there are a limit to my dedication to ancient Church rites and porno was my greatest sin.
At least this year.
"Remember, man, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return." or E=MC(squared) in the words of the Church, for in the beginning there was always light.