I am a proud Catholic. And as such, I am not particularly partial to one parish.

Admittedly, I am a church hopper. For now anyway.

I wasn’t like this growing up (for the most part). And I don’t expect to be in the future when we are settled back home in sunny Florida. But during my time here in California, I have officially joined two parishes and unofficially, a third (but come fall, I may officially join this one also just for good measure). Unlike Protestants, like my dear husband, we Catholics have the luxury of a McDonald’s factor at church. You can find one anywhere, at different times, all over the world, with pretty much the same menu every Sunday. So, depending on the more convenient time or location, I choose my parish accordingly.

Anyway, it seems that no church out here (that I have tried anyway) wants to spend the money or waste the paper on Missalettes. When did this start?? Is it like this everywhere? This is a problem for me. I need to be able to follow along. The Bible-y language is hard for me to digest. And besides that, I usually have a little person asking me for a cookie or a crayon or a diaper change not so quietly in my ear, so I don’t always catch it all anyway.

I thought I had an absolutely genius solution for this when I discovered a Missal app on my phone. Here’s the rub: you can’t exactly use your phone in church without looking like a complete a-hole. One time I fought the embarrassment and took it out before mass started (reminding myself that God knew what I was doing) and tried to read them ahead until my husband, seated two kid widths away, hissed, “ARE YOU SERIOUS????” He actually thought I was checking Facebook. Which, quite frankly, is a fair assumption any other time. But I couldn’t believe he thought I would actually do that. So, if even my husband judged me (in a purportedly judge free zone, no less) for reading my hi-tech Missal in church, what would the other folks think of me?

I just wish I could find a way to advertise what I was really looking at so I didn’t get visual death threats from the old people sitting nearby. If anyone thinks of a good solution, please pass it along.

Now, while we’re on the subject of church I have some announcements:

Attire: We covered this in last week’s installment, but girls, put on some clothes. Seriously. “Sunday best” hasn’t always been our strong suit in the Catholic church, but dear goodness, it’s getting a little out of control. Let’s not take advantage of our laid back dress code people. What if they start making us wear uniforms?!??

Seating: I get to church extra early because I have very stringent seating criteria. Emergency egress is always a concern with my little rascals so it is necessary for us to be located in the back, on the end of a pew with a little space to breathe. Please don’t show up halfway through the second reading and think you can take my premium seating at the end of the pew. I will not scoot to the middle for you. I don’t care if you trip on the kneeler trying to get by me and my carefully assembled camp. You snooze, you lose.

And also, I, unlike most of the people on this planet, have MAJOR space issues. I hyperventilate at Christmas and Easter when they have to squeeze us in like sardines. I can’t stand touching strangers.

So to the lady who sat ever so closely to us today, your oversized Gucci bag doesn’t need a seat. And if you find it completely necessary to keep it off the floor, use it as a barrier between me and you. I don’t think your children get high blood pressure every time you touch their skin (unlike myself).

Texting: It’s never okay. So get your Justin Bieber bangs out of your eyes, kid, and have a look at the cross up front. Pretty sure that’s more important than whatever you’re LOL-ing about.

And to the dad sitting next to the Biebs wanna be: ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?!? I was literally afraid to sneeze for fear that I might get a death stare from my dad in mass when I was a kid. ‘Cause we all know what that death stare means for when you get to the car. Times sure are a changin’.

Bodily Contact: Please do not be offended when I refuse to hold your hand during the Lord’s Prayer or pretend to be looking for something important in my purse during the Sign of Peace. It’s me, not you (yes…in case you are wondering…it IS exhausting to be me). I am not privy to how long you have washed your hands after a bowel movement and I won’t take my chances. Same goes for the Holy Water bowl (also known as a haven for E.Coli…saw it on Dateline). No dice.

And last but not least, I am sorry that my kids are loud. I truly am. I try my best to gag the little one with lollipops as long as possible. It’s not always successful. But how will they learn to behave if I don’t bring them along and use the infamous parent church death stare on them? It’s a family tradition. So bear with me.

If you recall, Jesus did say to bring the children to Him. Not sure what He was thinking when He said that, but He’s kind of the boss of church so don’t give me that look when my little one yells at the top of her lungs, “I YIKE DAT SONG!!!” after the responsorial psalm.

And now, I go in peace (wait…do we even still say that? I’m never going to be hip to these new script changes).