Disregard all the piles of dirty snow still laying around, friend, because this Sunday is Easter, which is the true, unofficial start to the spring.
But before you dive headfirst back into whatever bad habit you pretended to give up for Lent, shine up your church shoes, young person, because you are going to church! Yes, that's right, lapsed Catholic, this Sunday marks your annual return to the holiest of houses. Church on Easter Sunday is even more important than Midnight Mass, because this is the one where He might actually show up.
What's that? It's been an entire calendar year since you last spent an hour in a building full of strangers and neighbors celebrating the resurrection of Christ? Never fear, because I've got some handy tips to help you get through this sacred service.
1. Dress for the Job You Want (and Pretend That Job is Guy who Dresses Nice for Church)
There's two surefire ways to draw attention to yourself in church: being a bride in a wedding dress or wearing sweatpants and a ketchup-stained hoodie. The church opens its doors to all comers, but if you're not a regular church-goer, and you want to make a good impression despite not having a clue what to do, step up your fashion. You know how your aunt is always going on about wanting to set you up with that nice young guy or gal that she sees at church? Maybe let this be year that you give yourself the best chance of that miracle actually happening.
Also if this is the year that the big J-Dawg does return, you don't want to get caught looking like a slob riding into Armageddon. Ultimately, Jesus is not going to care what you wear to church but have some self-respect. Dress like you're interviewing for a job where eternal salvation is the cushiest benefit.
2. Forgot the Words? No Problem. Just Pray Harder Than Everybody Else
Going to church is like going to a concert with your best friend who knows the words to every song and you only recognize the hits off the radio but your best friend keeps looking at you when they play a deep cut like, "OMG I can't believe they're playing this!" except all the songs are prayers and your best friend is your mom.
I hit all the sacraments on my way up to being a real man in the church but for the life of me, I could only remember the words to two or three of the prayers. The rest of the time I would look around in a panic and try and dry the sweat on my palms on my sweatpants. No more.
Now, I just pray harder than everybody else. The less familiar I am with the prayer, the harder I pray. It's easy. Just close your eyes and bow your head and then bring your hands up to your mouth like you're whispering secrets to a firefly. For added effect, why don't you go ahead and squeeze out a tear? The more moved you look by everything that's going on, the less concerned your mom is going to be about how much communion wine you sip.
3. Pretend To Look For The Lyrics To Hymns
Church music is tricky. Every church is different. Some have choirs full of angel-voiced singers. Some have century-old organs and perfect acoustics. Some have rock bands and crowd surfing. Whatever the set-up in your church, you've got two options: stand there stoically waiting for the song to end or get into it like it's 2am and you're about to get kicked out of the karaoke bar.
A third option is best. Somewhere around you, you'll find a little book full of songs that is so difficult to navigate that you won't even have to pretend like you're frantically flipping through the book trying to find the right song. You could look for days and never find the right song. There's your move. When everybody starts singing, give the nearest stranger an exaggerated "I don't know this one" look and start turning pages. If you want to show off, time it so you land on the right song just as it ends, and let out a "dang" or a "shucks" and then apologize right away for cussing.
4. Stand, Sit, Kneel
In all my years of going to church, I've never known when it's time to sit or when its time to stand or when it's time to kneel. Try and find somebody that looks like they know what they're doing and just do what they do. When they sit, you sit. When they stand, you stand. When they say, "Hey," you also say, "Hey." There's no "ho"s in church. You sit, stand, and kneel as a parish, and when you kneel, actually kneel. It's going to be tempting to rest your butt on the pew but you're trying to fake your way through this because there's a chocolate rabbit waiting for you at home. Think of it as exercise as you kneel, holding your butt up with a straight back. You'll burn the calorie equivalent of one sniff of a Cadbury egg if you just put the extra effort into kneeling.
5. Load Up The Collection Plate
In the end, if all else fails and you dress like a slob and you stand there slack-jawed through all the prayers, when that collection plate goes around, dig deep in those pockets, baby. Dump enough cash in that collection plate and all will be forgiven.
(images via Thinkstock)