Easter Mass

I attended Easter Mass this morning.

That sentence is sorta strange, considering I’m:

A. Jewish.

B. Agnostic.

C. Vocally anti-the Catholic Church.

So I’ll say it again—I attended Easter Mass this morning.

We (the wife, the kids, myself) were in the midst of our annual five-day Buffalo pilgrimage, and Jill and Greg (the wonderful friends we always visit) asked if we wanted to accompany them to the 10 am mass at St. Joseph University Parish. This was, of course, a no-brainer.

Even though I’m largely disgusted by organized religion (mine included), I’m equally fascinated by organized religion. Namely, how can so many millions upon millions of people place their trust in faith in something that makes—for the most part—no remote sense? I’m not being snide when I say this. When people have faith in God, they are believing that a higher force guides things … a higher force that we neither see nor hear … a higher force that has allowed slavery and the Holocaust and Columbine and 9.11 and Sandy Hook and widespread priest molestations and all sorts of awfulness. People are placing logic aside, and grasping onto the illogical; onto something that—Pat Robertson be damned—cannot be proven, and has never been proven. This usually dumbfounds me. It truly does.

And yet, as I stood there inside a beautiful church in Buffalo, surrounded by people I didn’t know and will never see again, I was, well, moved. There was something genuine in the building; something that had nothing to do with the Vatican or the pope or church politics. It was … hope. Decent, satisfying hope. I believe many of the folks in attendance want to hold onto the ideas and teachings of Jesus Christ because, without them, who are we? What is our purpose? Are we merely random accidents, roaming around for no good reason? Hope, in this case, wasn’t a bad thing. It wasn’t about damning gays or debating abortion, but simply hoping that good really does outweigh evil; that a savior once walked the earth, died, then returned out of love.

That’s an amazingly powerful story, and an equally powerful message. And while I still consider it to be hard to swallow, I was taken by the integrity of the attendees. When the woman standing behind me extended her hand and said, “Peace be with you in Christ’s name,” I saw genuine warmth in her face. She didn’t care that we were strangers; that I was tall and gawky and (eh) holding my iPhone.

She just wanted to be nice.

I can dig that.