For those of you who don't know, I am somewhat of a lapsed Catholic.
Grew up in a double-tough Catholic home — my mom comes from a long line of German-Irish Catholics. My dad from a long line of Chamorro Catholics.
When I was growing up, we went to church every Sunday. CCD classes (Sunday school) as well. Mass on all the holy days. Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, back when it was still held at midnight. All the sacraments ... well, I still have marriage and last rites left to go; I'm sure I'll get one or the other soon! LOL
I didn't really question my faith growing up, not vocally at least. I wondered why we did some things, but not because I was against them; just because I was curious. I read the Illustrated Children's Bible at a young age. By Grade 5 I had worked my way through the Old Testament and the New Testament of the Roman Catholic Bible.
When I was living on Guam, I was very involved with our church, Nuestra Señora de las Aguas — Our Lady of the Waters — in Mongmong. My auntie and uncle lived just down the street from the church, so when we lived on Guam — even when we were half the island away living on the Air Force base — we went to church there. I got my First Holy Communion there. I was Confirmed there.
During our high school years, the parish priest liked me and my brother, James. We were tall, so we could easy maneuver the long-handled collection baskets (though the first time I did it, I hit the back of a lady's head LOL). You had to extend the basket at least halfway down a pew, then draw it back, lift it up and into the next row, and repeat — without spilling bills or loose change. My uncle made me and my brother help one Sunday when a couple of the usual guys weren't there, and we came to be regulars.
The priest also often called on us to do the readings. We read well, projected our voices, and didn't stumble over words like "Ephesians" or the more esoteric old-school words like "doth" and "thee." So I would do the first reading, he would do the second. Or vice versa.
Lent was always a big deal in our house. We went to Mass to kick things off on Ash Wednesday, which is today, by the way. We all gave up something we really liked so we could gain some limited understanding of what Jesus went through during his 40 days and nights in the desert, though of course we could never come anywhere close.
We didn't fast, but there was no meat on the holy days — Ash Wednesday, Holy Thursday, Holy Saturday — and, of course, on every Friday as well, including Holy Friday. No chicken, no beef, no pork. Only fish and seafood. And eggs. I actually miss those Fridays during Lent, because it broke up our routine meals we had on a regular basis. Scrambled eggs and rice were good, or a cheese omelet that my dad made perfectly. Salads with all kinds of vegetables. Pop made killer tuna fish and egg salad sammiches too, and grilled cheese to die for. Nobody has made grilled cheese better than him.
Fuck I'm hungry for grilled cheese. LOL
Fishsticks were popular. As was reef fish barbecued up or deep-fried. Up until about junior high, I liked fish a lot. My favorite part of fried fish were the eyeballs. But at some point I lost my taste for most fish dishes. Oh well.
Anyway, back to the reason behind this post.
I haven't been to Mass in ages, let alone observed the Lenten season. But this year, I am going to give some things up for the 40-day stretch. Maybe I'll even try to go to Mass. Lord knows it couldn't hurt me.
Here's what I will do without during Lent:
• Texas Hold 'Em. I play at least once a week, often twice. For the next 40 days, I won't play at all ... (pauses to allow everyone to pick their jaws up off the floor).
• Strippers. No strip clubs, period. No lunches with strippers. No strolling down to several places in Tumon where I often see and talk to strippers ... (waits for the cries of "Bullshit!!" to die down).
Random Guam Fact Of The Day:
• Pale' San Vitores, "The First Apostle of the Marianas," noted in his journals that ancient Chamorros were highly skilled in the use of slings. He writes; "They can throw stones from a sling with such dexterity and strength that they are able to drive them into the trunk of a tree." San Vitores is largely credited with the conversion of the Chamorros to Catholicism. He was martyr, being slain by the Chamorro Chief Matapang, after baptizing the chief's daughter without Matapang's consent.