My dad is a genius. A saw his father one month out of the year till he was 20, asked to go to the bathroom at school when he was 6 so he could wander around the playground, moved out of the country at 22, bootstrapped his way through raising five kids with my mom, surrounded himself with people who were "better" and "smarter" than he was because he knew it was best for him kind of genius.
Of course, he's also a knows which buttons to push to drive you absolutely batshit up a wall crazy kind of genius... but I digress...
Throughout my 30 or so odd years on this planet, my dad has gifted me many nuggets of wisdom, sage words of advice, sly bits of info, tips of the trade that are meant to make life... bearable. GFMisms I'm going to call them. My dad is GFM. Glorificador Fernandez Montemayor. GFMisms has a nice ring to it.
This is the first of many GFMisms I'm going to impart to the world through this sometimes entertaining, oftentimes rambling, alltimes digital blog. The smirk on my face right now contains only a small bit of the excitement, enthusiasm, and pride I will have in doing so.
I was raised Catholic. My mom was raised Catholic in the Philippines, my dad was raised... some denomination of Christianity that I don't really recall... so by default my family was Catholic. Went to Catholic grade schools. Catholic high schools (2 of my sisters went to an all girl school, and I attended a Jesuit Prep School [even as I type and proofread that sentence, it sounds much more glamorous, elitist, pretentious than it actually was]).
We went to Mass on Sundays.
Like a lot of other kids who are raised Catholic (raised in any religion, really), the mandatory customs and traditions of Catholicism weren't necessarily what we looked forward to every week, month, season, year. Giving up things for Lent wasn't at the top of anyone's "Favorite Things to Do" list. Nor was Ash Wednesday, yearly confessions, prayer groups... you get the idea (I did like going to Soup Wednesdays at Dolan Hall and Fish Fridays at the O'Callaghan Center during Lent, but that's just because I got to play with other kids).
Mass on Sundays was no different. Yes, we had to go. No, it wasn't particularly enjoyable.
Did I mention my dad is a genius? Because he is, as evidenced by his explanation for why we need to go to Mass on Sundays.
Not because it's the Lord's Day. Not because it's a sin if we don't. We go to Mass on Sundays...
... to slow down.
Because our lives are always moving so fast, endlessly fast, never a moment to enjoy it fast, drive for an hour in traffic on the 60 then the 10 then exit Vermont and head north to Venice where you make a left to make it to school by 8:10 so you won't get detention fast, 9 to 5 and collect that paycheck so you can pay the bills fast, wake the baby and get him dressed before feeding him breakfast so you can rush him to the car and drop him off at Kindercare fast, rush to the A or C or E and get off on 42nd and 8th so you can put your name in at the Newsies lottery and get those $30 tickets fast... It's really, really, really, unfortunately, forgettably, regrettably... fast.
But Mass on Sundays helps you slow down. It's 2 hours of ritual. Stand, sit, stand, sit, stand, sit, stand, kneel, stand, kneel, walk, kneel, sit, stand (and, yes, that's an accurate recap of an actual Mass). Say hi to your friends afterwards, how was your week, how are the kids, what have you got going on...
You slow down. And hopefully reflect on how your life is going. And throw in some thankful for how great you've got it. And possibly some this is what I've got to work on.
And I don't think that it has to be Mass or it has to be Sunday or it has to be Catholic or it has to be anything but your own... and we could all use some time in our lives to slow down.
Did I mention my dad is a genius?