November 30, 1995

Virgin Fashion

Last night in my dreams I attended a Catholic Mass. It was exactly as I remember it from thirty years ago except that it was held in mass-in-the-round, sort of like theater-in-the-round. Also, there were four priests celebrating. They did their usual genuflecting, kneeling and hoisting in almost unison.

At the time for the homily, a new, modern plan was announced. There would be a topic and discussion from the congregation. I could warm up to that real quickly. It would be just like a support group meeting.

The priest on the corner nearest me stood facing away from me. He announced the topic with a flourish: “What did Mary wear?”

What a great topic-- pointed and accessible. Not controversial like women in the priesthood, abortion, or transubstantiation. And not unfathomable like faith, hope and limbo. No, this would be a good first topic for this kind of thing.

A woman a few rows up raised her hand. The priest who gave the topic did not turn his head, but he caught her out of the back corner of his eye.

“And what do you do?” he said, tilting his head back slightly.

I almost jumped to my feet and screamed, “What do you do? What kind of question is that! What does that have to do with anything? Why are we measured by what we do?” But I did not. I stayed in my seat, although my gyrations and half utterances were drawing stares from all around.

“And how long have you been a member of the Church?” he asked her.

My chin recoiled from my chest. “What kind of question is that?” I again half said. “ How long does it take to learn what Mary wore?” Why is he putting down this woman without a chance? Why is he measuring her before even listening to her answer.

“You’ve been a member for less than a year haven’t you?”

The collection plate interrupted and I was flustered. I tried to put in a dollar bill, but I think a five and a ten got stuck to it and my donation surged. I was not sure if the extra bills were mine, but they were both purple, the color of the money in my wallet. And I did not want it to look like I was stealing someone else’s donation, so I let it go. I probably am behind in my payments anyway.

By the way, I know that Mary had only one outfit--a white hooded robe covered with a blue cloak. I wish he had called on me.

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