The next post is brought to you by Kelly Meehan, one of my dearest friends from Saint Mary’s College. Kelly lives and works in New York City as a writer and writer’s assistant. She is originally from Ohio, and graduated from Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame with a degree in Communication Studies and Public Relations. She plans to win an Emmy for sitcom writing … someday.
“See you at the bar.” Four simple words – endless meanings.
Is this a date? A party? Reunion? Binge fest?
When your religious leader says it to you, hopefully none of the above.
As a 20-something in Manhattan, there is little room for excuses for not imbibing. You don’t drive (no one owns a car!), you don’t have children (or pets!) – heck, your sole responsibility is showing up at 10 a.m. for your job and taking out the trash before your roommate returns from vacation. So, when my priest uttered those words to some members of the congregation after mass, I could not think up any reason not to join.
I had been lucky enough to find a 7 p.m. Sunday evening mass (who doesn’t like to sleep in on Sundays?) that is geared towards young professionals living in New York City.
While we all know the Apostle’s Creed by heart, the rituals of the mass might not prove enough to create community amongst dozens of young adults. We don’t have bake sales (ovens in Manhattan strictly serve as storage space), Sunday spaghetti dinners (no one wants to eat hot saucy noodles when it is 99 degrees outside) or vacation Bible School (did I mention no one has children here?). Thus, the Sunday evening post-mass drinking tradition began.
I must admit that I dragged my heels the first time I ventured one block from my church to the bar. “Who wants to drink with their priest?” I thought. It has to be sacrilegious. Should I just get a water? I don’t want anyone to think I am a lush. Obviously, we are all Catholics, thus feeling at least the tiniest twinge of guilt when imbibing.
I quickly rationalized that one drink won’t hurt anyone – hey, even Jesus was a wino … kinda.
When I walked into the dimly lit watering hole, I noticed my fellow mass goers were cheerily introducing themselves to one another. No one ordered shots, and no one was scandalized by the few who dared to order a liquor-based cocktail. For me, I assumed a glass of Pinot (or two …) would suffice, especially when the (non-imbibing) priest who just gave you communion is present.
Maybe it was a drinker’s buzz, but the anonymity amongst us shattered. The brunette I exchanged peace with is an aspiring actress! The plaid-shirted man who distributed the Eucharist is from my hometown! The altar server lives in my East Village neighborhood.
I have to be honest, that the post-mass ritual has become a welcome reprise to my “religion.” When I walk into the beautiful old church each week, I feel united with my fellow parishioners in faith and friendship – knowing we have much more in common than our beliefs.