Every year my Irish Catholic family has a reunion picnic. The festivities are preceded by a Mass, as there are a few priests in the family.
The Mass is always scheduled to start at noon, but at that time, so few people have arrived that it is invariably postponed and starts much later.
Is there a diplomatic way to point out that not everyone wishes to sit through a Mass and that some of the late arrivals are deliberately trying to miss the service?
Speaking for myself, I am no longer a practicing Catholic, and I feel like a complete hypocrite going through the motions of a religious ceremony that has no meaning for me.
Because my grandparents, parents and aunts and uncles are all there, it's hard to just sit there and pretend to enjoy the service.
Busted Flat in Baton Rouge
Every Sunday I believe I see various people sitting in the pews, pretending to enjoy the service. Lord knows I've occasionally done it myself. In fact, I don't think it's actually as hard to do as you indicate.
I realize that lapsed Catholics can have a complicated relationship with their church, and I think I understand how difficult this matter could be for some people. However, at the risk of encouraging you and others to be hypocritical, I'm going to go ahead and do so.
Would it kill you to go to Mass once a year?
I don't think it would. I don't think it would do irreparable harm to your spiritual integrity to sit through a reunion Mass that you have little interest in, just for the sake of older members of your family for whom this is clearly an important part of their family fellowship.
If after my little sermon you are still looking for a diplomatic way to indicate that some family members are trying to miss it, you could say, "Don't wait on those of us who are running late, Father. Some people may not want to attend Mass that day, but we'll all be there to see the family afterward."
I'm 15, and in my group of friends I am the person they go to with love problems.
I have two friends, "Emily" and "Rory." I set them up, and they started to go out. Apparently she really likes him and he likes her. But then almost a week after I set them up, Emily slept with another guy and didn't tell Rory.
Emily said she was just getting things out of her system, but then she did it again two more times. Now she says she's going to stick with Rory, but I really don't believe her. Rory and I have been friends for seven years and I want to tell him what Emily did.
I also have another problem. About three weeks after I set these two up, I started to have feelings for Rory. Now I don't know what to do. I don't think Emily cares for him the way I do, and she hasn't ever been exactly faithful to any guy.
Now I have to give Emily and Rory advice to keep them together. What should I do?
Please leave the heavy lifting to the experts. It's time to put your advice-giving career on hold.
Don't even get me started on the horrifying prospect of 15-year-olds having sex. But I know that's not your question.
If you'll stop matchmaking, you'll have an opportunity to concentrate on your own life.
I'm going to recommend some summer reading on this very topic. Pick up Jane Austen's "Emma," which is a cautionary tale about matchmaking with similar elements to your story. If you can't manage reading a classic novel from the 19th century, rent the movie "Emma," starring Gwyneth Paltrow.
If you can't handle the English accents, rent the movie "Clueless," a wonderful California version of "Emma," which will convey the very message you need to hear.
In a recent column, you responded to a young woman whose boyfriend was "perfect in every way" except that he regularly looks at pictures of naked women.
You should have informed the young woman that most men enjoy looking at pictures of scantily clad, attractive women. Those who do not enjoy looking at pictures of scantily clad men. If the latter were true in her case, photographs would be the least of her problems.
Your comparison of smoking with heterosexuality was less than silly.
If this young woman feels inadequate because she does not look like a Victoria's Secret model, she has serious self-esteem problems and should get off her boyfriend's case.
Gilbert in Bethesda
In my response to this letter, I compared the boyfriend's porn habit to smoking -- both are occupations that others in the household may find offensive.
I'm not sure that your equation of porn with healthy heterosexuality quite holds up, but I welcome hearing additional points of view.
Write to Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.
(c)2005 by the Chicago Tribune
Distributed by Tribune Media Services Inc.