Last Saturday was the 20th anniversary of my husband's dad's death. It's important to mention his name: Patrick Eagers (this will be important later). I know what you're thinking, and, no my husband isn't a 60 year old man. He was only 10 when his dad passed away. Extremely sad. So, his mom decided to hold a mass in remembrance of a great man on a monumental day. 7:00 pm on Saturday night - off we went to the main church in Ballyfermot, Dublin.
The church is HUGE. It's not a cathedral style - more of a later made model, but quite drastic in architecture. Strangely, the colors are blue, red and white. More French flag than American flag-ish. The entire metal ceiling, rafters included, is this dull blue - strange. Now, if that was the last strange thing that happened, I wouldn't be writing about it. Where do I begin...
We walked into the church and I instinctively go for the holy water in the little bowls attached to the wall before entering the main hall. No holy water - or any water of any kind - to be found. Those bowls have been void of any kind of liquid since the Ice Age as far as I can tell. Just a little holy dirt in there. The church wasn't full - a spattering of people who would much rather get their church on after 6:00 pm on Saturday than on Sunday. It counts according to the "Catholic Rules" - hey, I didn't make them up. Derek's family filled two pews and eagerly awaited the part of the mass where his dad was discussed. As we sat listening to the readings (or day dreaming through them - take your pick), I was looking around the alter and spotted a framed picture of a man. I thought, "Oh how nice. They have a framed picture of him up there as well." But then I noticed that it was on top of something - wait, is that a COFFIN?? I nudged Derek and had the following appalling conversation:
Me: Is that a dead body over there???!!!
Derek: Oh, yeah.
Me: *shock, horror*
Derek: The wakes are often held in the actual church and if they don't bury the person on that day, then the body stays in the church.
Me: *SHOCK! HORROR!*
I mean, you have GOT to be kidding me. Geez - they can at least drape a holy blanket over the guy. Kind of hard not to stare now. The sermon is said - a quick one at that. Then the priest might as well have said, "And now for your commercial break." He introduced a nun that had been on a mission in China to spread her message. She started off by awkwardly admiring the french-colored church, the people and thanked us for allowing her to spread her message. I don't remember being advised. She fumbled through her good work for the Lord in China and how she didn't understand a thing that they were saying. Or something like that. Then, of course, at the end she invited all of the young folks to join her mission and didn't leave without asking for donations. And there it is folks - a big ole sales pitch. I know, I know - you think me insensitive. Listen - I'm all about that kind of thing, but after the sermon and before communion?? I just don't know about that. What made it even more cringe-worthy was her thanking us in Chinese. And she even came in front of the alter so she could raise her voice and do a few bows. Thank Pete that was over.
The priest got to the point where we start praying for loads of people, organizations, grocery stores - who knows these days. We prayed for the sick and the military, the usual. Then I thought the time had come when the priest said, "Now let us say a special prayer for.... the POLITICIANS." Huh?? Did I just hear that right?? Now, I know that there is a historical election taking place today, but I don't think any Irish man or woman here gives two hoots about the politicians that they blame completely for the current nasty state of this country.
Now, I was thinking that the entire mass was said for him. Yeah, right. When they finally got to the list it was at least 20 names. It went something like this:
"Let us pray for the dearly departed: Thomas McSo-and-So, Blah Blah O'Connor....skip to the good part...(ok, here it comes - what we've all been waiting for!)...Patricia Eagers, Patrick So-and-So..."
Wait. What just happened? Did he really just call Derek's dad Patricia?? No way. We didn't all come here to have a big ole slap in the face. I couldn't believe it. We had to stick it out at this point. We go through the communion process (every man for himself in this country) and then the priest decides to attempt to apologize while mumbling. It was the saddest apology I've ever heard. He said something about a mistake, said the correct name, maybe a little something about so many names to read and then I swear he said "whatever" and stopped there. Aw, come on dude.
I'm not sure if it was the corpse in the corner, the nun, or the mistaken name that made me think, "I definitely need to blog about this." There were just too many things to share.
After the mass we made it all better by heading to Derek's mom's house, ate, drank and even lit one of those chinese floating lantern thingys that went so high in the air we couldn't tell it apart from the actual stars. And Derek's mom was sure that it was going to fall so quickly that it would burn down the trees in the neighbors yard. Ahhhhh.... I love it here.