oxymoron67: (dino head)
[personal profile] oxymoron67

When I was a teen, in the 80s, the Steelers were not a very good team. Still, I was (and still am) a Steelers fan, so I watched every game religiously. In fact, I had a regular habit: I’d go to 11:00 am mass at St. Cecilia’s (the family parish) with my grandmother, and then I’d just go back to her house to watch the game.

She would watch with me while also preparing Sunday dinner for the family.

Looking back on it, the rituals of attending the mass and of watching the Steelers game were similar.

1) Before things started

St. Cecilia’s: We drove to church, and walked in. My grandmother would discuss gossip fellow churchgoers.

Steelers: We tuned in to the pregame show. The sportscasters would discuss how the Steelers stacked up against their opponents.

2) Introduction

St. Cecilia’s: Opening hymn, frequently sung poorly by the choir, or, worse, a folk trio.

Steelers: National Anthem, frequently sung poorly by a choir, or, worse, a local celebrity.

3) Opening rituals

St. Cecilia’s: The opening prayers, the Gloria. We settled in for the service. Grandmother handed me a missalette, so I could follow along.

Steelers: The coin toss and the kick-off. We settled in for the game. Grandmother cracked open a beer. I occasionally get to drink some.

4) Actual service: interactivity!

St. Cecilia’s: The first and second readings. We sang the responsorial psalms.

Steelers: The first plays from scrimmage. We started yelling at the TV set.

5) Spokespeople!

St. Cecilia’s: The priest got up to do the Gospel reading. We tried to be holy and pay attention, but I became bored easily. My grandmother would scowl at me when I started to fidget.

Steelers: Steelers started an offensive drive. We tried to be good, calm fans, but a series of frustrating plays would lead my grandmother to start shouting obscenities at the TV.*

*Seriously, this is how I learned to swear.

6) Filibuster!

St. Cecilia’s: The sermon. The priest babbled for anywhere from fifteen minutes to for-freaking-ever. No one really paid attention. Threats of damnation abounded.

Steelers: During an extended TV time out, the sportscasters babbled about… well, no one really paid attention. Sports metaphors abounded.

7) Intercessions

St. Cecilia’s: We prayed for world peace, for the health of the pope, and for the speedy recovery of ill parishioners.

Steelers: We prayed that the Steelers wide receiver core would CATCH A GODDAMNED FOOTBALL.

8) Audience interaction

St. Cecilia’s: The Sign of Peace. Parishioners shook each others’ hands while saying “Peace be with you.” There was a surprising amount of kissing.

Steelers: They finally completed a pass. There was a surprising amount of celebration.

9) Food break!

St. Cecilia’s: Communion. We (and our fellow parishioners) rushed up to the altar for the Body and Blood of Christ.

Steelers: Halftime! We rushed to the kitchen for snacks.

10) Regrouping

St. Cecilia’s: Final prayers. They never seemed to end. Latin frequently involved.

Steelers: The third quarter. It never seemed to end. Turnovers frequently involved.

11) Dismissal

St. Cecilia’s: We sang the final song, and dispersed. My grandmother gossiped with fellow parishioners.

Steelers: The game ended and we started getting ready for dinner. Grandmother would break down game with yours truly.

So, yes, it was like being a part of two different, but not mutually exclusive, faiths.
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October 2013

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