Every now and then, I come across something interesting

Every now and then, I come across something interesting

Loyal readers know that I’m a recovering Catholic and that the faith in which I was raised often plays a role in what I write. Usually it’s in an academic or social context: for example the spelling bee I accidentally cheated in to try to win or the fallout involved when I gave my I.D. bracelet to a girl in eighth grade. Just stories about growing up.

It’s hardly ever been my purpose to peel back theological layers of doctrine, looking for either inspiration or condemnation, nor have I used this space to convince anyone of anything churchy.

I’m more spiritual than religious. That said, however, I’d like to start this week’s essay with an account of what happened one morning not too long ago.

The XM radio dial at dawn is a 250-channel labyrinth of hardly anything live. It’s programmed music separated into genres, reruns of sports call-in shows and the usual assortment of political punditry that often puts me in mind of the great line in “For What It’s Worth” by the Buffalo Springfield:“There’s battle lines being drawn, and nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong.”

Every now and then though, I come across something interesting. One early morning it was a discussion that revolved around Dali’s famous painting, “The Persistence of Memory,” and what those melted clocks were supposed to represent. Hint: Pay attention to the ants.

Another time I happened upon a rebroadcast of “The Shadow,” a theater-of-the-mind experience that I recalled from my parents and their shared recollections of the Golden Age of Radio.

And then there was a tribute to George Carlin, one of modern comedy’s giants, and the way his “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” still resonates.

That’s the thing about the satellite radio smorgasbord. There’s almost always something out there for everyone.

Sometimes I’ll check out the traffic conditions in say, San Francisco, just because I can. Hint: Pay attention to the fog.

And then there’s something called the Catholic Channel. Let me stress again that I’m not a preachy kind of guy and that what happened the other morning, if I tell it right, will amuse and not confuse you.

Truth be told, I’m not a total stranger to Channel 129. Owing to the vagaries of the local cable operation here on the Crystal Coast, there have been afternoons in the fall when I am denied watching my alma mater’s football games. Down here Notre Dame isn’t all that. We get preempted by any number of regional telecasts involving any number of North Carolina schools, and it’s just not right.

I mean NBC pays ND lots of money to air all home games in every market in the nation. That’s a fact. And yet to my righteous and often profane indignation, the local affiliate plays fast and loose with its Saturday afternoon schedule, oftentimes ignoring the national feed.

The Fighting Irish’s games are “joined in progress,” like they’re nothing more important than the Home Shopping Club’s special on lady’s watches that chart weight loss.

And don’t say, “Just call the cable company,” because in your heart of hearts you know that those robotic folks couldn’t care less about your complaints, no matter how founded in facts they are. Hint: Pay attention to the those pulling the plug.

And that’s where XM radio has saved the day more than once because the Catholic Channel carries every Notre Dame game, home and away, on its airwaves.

Sometimes it’s even better than watching them on TV because you’re not rooted to being indoors and can follow the action wherever you are.

My wife and I have, for instance, enjoyed many a beach day and the occasional camping trip because XM hits the coastline and the mountains with equal strength of signal. So I already liked the Catholic Channel. But then I went to Mass.

For the uninitiated, it’s the central ritual of Catholicism, the public presentation of a centuries-old rite that has remain largely unchanged since the time of the Apostles.

Though there was a bit of a dust-up in the mid-'60s, a time of global change when something called the Second Vatican Council permitted parishes to abandon Latin and use what was called “the vernacular,” meaning the language of the people in that church.

Vatican Two also turned the tables, so to speak, on the way the priests said Mass, encouraging them to face the congregation from the altar rather than offer prayers with their backs to it.

As an altar boy who had memorized the Latin responses, I was OK with jettisoning the ancient tongue because truth be told, I often mumbled my way through certain passages.

Back then we had to go to Mass every morning. Once, I fainted on the altar. Because in an effort to make it to school on time, I had skipped breakfast. I got all light-headed and then, poof, I was out.

So I was thinking about these things as I listened to the Mass on the XM radio. It has been years since I’ve been in an actual church, not counting weddings and funerals, and I was discovering that I retained more than a little of the dialogue. Hint: Pay attention to the “Amens.”

But for all its familiarity, what struck me more than anything else was the speed with which the Mass was said. The whole thing from the entrance hymn to the recessional lasted a grand total of 22 minutes, and that included a “sermon,” which was about the length of this sentence and wasn’t as well-written.

When I think about it, the reason for the breakneck pace is probably to accommodate time-strapped Catholic commuters who tune in on their way to work every morning, and I can respect that. It’s just another reason why memories, oftentimes, are much sweeter than day-to-day reality. Hint: Pay attention and don’t forget to remember what matters.

Mike Dewey can be reached at CarolinamikeD@aol.com or 6211 Cardinal Drive, New Bern, NC 28560. Find him on Facebook.

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