Saturday, October 30, 2010

My First Mass

Today was my first Mass in conjunction with my highly probable conversion to the Catholic Church. It was not my first Mass ever. To understand why, visit THIS entry. I have likely attended well over 50 masses in my time...just none for the past 10+ years.


I chose for our first Mass to be at the Church we will likely be attending on a regular basis. The CCD class TrainBoy attended last week is affiliated with it. The Priest serves 3 "local" Churches. "Local" in quotation marks due to the fact that I live in a rural area and this poor man of the cloth is serving an area of over 50 square miles. May God bless him!

Sacred Heart, where we attended, has a Saturday evening Mass. This fits in great with my schedule as a night owl, is fairly close to home (about 20 miles), and seemed like a "good" place to start.

Scared to the point of shaking for most of the drive there, I tried to gently explain things to TrainBoy he likely wouldn't have seen in our previous church experiences. We'd talked about the Sign of the Cross yesterday and he'd learned how to make it. I tried to explain that the cross would have Jesus on it, the reason for genuflecting, what the water at the door was for and how to use it, and that we would be adding kneeling to the sit, stand routine of worship.

Pulling up to the Church, one would think it's a Baptist building. It's your quintessential looking non-assumptive white rural church on the outside. It could house any religion from it's exterior. Coming from Chicago with it's massive Cathedrals it was almost funny to think that my journey would begin from this tiny little parish in the middle of nowhere.

TrainBoy decided he had to practice genuflecting in the parking lot. Fortunately no one was there. It was adorable watching him try to "get it right" despite being told he didn't have to do it.

Walking in the door, the Holy Water font was right there on the way in. I'd never seen little pebbles in it before...but knew that's what it was since it was the only water in the entryway. I "set the example" by blessing myself. An elderly gentleman walked in behind us. TrainBoy, being a lefty, tried to copy me but did it backwards. I smiled and bent down to help him "redo" it but the kind gentleman behind me leaned over with a smile and said, "It's okay - God knows what he meant." The gentleman then blessed himself and walked forward to be called Father Joe by the parishioners in the doorway...

I decided I liked Father Joe. :)

TrainBoy REFUSED to sit in the back (my original plan) and chose a pew about 5-6 rows back from the very front. I was terrified no one would sit in front of us and I'd end up standing, sitting, and kneeling at all the wrong places. He did his best genuflect going into the pew (also backwards) and knelt to pray. I did the same and sat down after marking my missal for the day's service and praying I didn't do something that would embarrass myself or my son.

Shortly after I finished marking my missal, the CCD teacher walked in. She's also the RE for the parish and is immensely kind. Her name is Diane for further discussion purposes. She saw me immediately and walked over and we began chatting quietly. Next thing I knew she settled down in the pew next to me for the service. I was so immensely thankful...and will continue to be for the rest of my life.

I was shocked at how much I remembered. I was impressed that I still had lots of it down. I still knew the Nicene Creed by heart - something most Catholics don't even know according to Diane. She seemed pleased with our attempts as did Father Joe (did I mention how much I like him?). She complimented TrainBoy on his behavior. The ONLY thing he did "wrong" was to stand on the kneeling rail to see better around the people in front of us. Diane thought it was precious. My father would have beaten me with a stick for even considering it. Italians....

The only thing I did wrong was forget that some kneeling rails have slippery surfaces. Trying to kneel on them in pantyhose is like an extra abdominal workout. I managed after sliding off twice to stay on there gracefully. Maybe next week I'll bring a non-slip surface to place under my knees. I could resort to pants like 98% of the congregation (there were only 2 of us in skirts/dresses) but after my Catholic grandmother beating into me that "wearing your best for God means young ladies do NOT wear pants" it's unlikely. Funny - she wore pants to Mass herself. Perhaps that's why I won't switch...I don't want to be old. :) lol

Anywho the whole thing was an immense success. I find myself looking forward to a discussion with Father Joe about how to get everyone properly reinstated or instated. TrainBoy is ecstatic about going back to CCD. Diane is like the Great-Grandma he doesn't have up here in the sticks. She's a really neat lady. I'm not sure if I an ask the RE to be my sponsor for RCIA, but if I can, she's the TOP of my list right now. :)

A Little (okay - not so little) Background

Allow me to explain, as briefly as possible, the road that has brought me here.

I was born to 2 Christians, 1 Catholic (my father) and 1 United Methodist (my mother). Their marriage was not blessed by the Catholic's choice who was non-practicing from well before the time they married up until my brother was getting ready to attend school over 15 years after I was born. They agreed that I would be brought up in my mother's faith in a church that was "dual denomination" - United Methodist and United Church of Christ.

I occasionally attended various churches other than my home church growing up. This included attending Mass with my grandmother and my father once he returned to the faith. I also attended my mother's parent's church while visiting them, another dual denomination - United Methodist and Baptist. Growing up as a musician I also attended MANY services of so many different faiths to mention them all would take an entire blog entry. I am, to say the very least, well versed in the worship practices of most major religions. It's something I feel is important and I hope to expose my son to the same cultural experiences as he grows up.

For the sake of record, I was confirmed in my mother's church. Prior to, during, and after that confirmation I was an active member of the choir which I continued participating in up until I got married.

My husband is a "cradle Catholic". Like my father he had "left" the faith long before I came along. I made the offer to convert at any time when we agreed to marry. That was 10 years ago.

It is now 2010 and I can honestly say since my confirmation I have grown mountains in my faith. I have an immense respect, as stated previously, for ALL faiths. For many, many reasons my faith over the years has become a very odd mixture of my upbringing, very conservative Christian views, and Paganism. Yup - Paganism.

I know - that one threw you for a loop...didn't it??? :) Here's why. Pagans revere nature. I have been told by many, many Pagans over the years that I "have a gift". I don't believe one should transfer to a religion based on a "knack for it" but I do agree that the general respect and reverence given by the "average" Christian towards what nature is capable of is outright sinful. Here is one of many examples on why this is added to my "list of beliefs". I'm a practicing herbalist. I pray over the herbals I make that they will heal. This would, for all intensive purposes, be a Pagan practice. I just choose to use God and Jesus rather than praying to a Pagan Goddess.

Christians call that heretical. I wonder if that pill you are popping in your mouth to solve whatever ails you was prayed over during it's preparation? Now what about the 4 more pills you have to take...each to counter the effects of the one before? Herbalism is good for the body. If John the Baptist could eat bugs, what on earth is wrong with me using a poultice of comfrey and aloe to heal a burn?

Moving on because I can rant about this all day.

A week ago, my husband and I had a very deep discussion. The bottom outcome was that he wished to return to the Catholic church and would like me to join him.

Last week was an immense journey of dealing with the inevitable results of that conversation. As a conservative Christian I believe I am bound to follow the wishes of my husband in terms of how we will worship the Lord in this home. As a "never before Catholic", this has been overwhelming to say the very least.

And here we sit. 1 week into the journey that is just beginning. Endless research, lots of conversations, wonderful friends that help, and God.

Somehow, HE has a plan in all I just have to figure out where I fit in! :)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My heart breaks

It is the evening that I first found out I would truly be able to become Catholic. This journey has taken 10 years to complete.

My heart breaks as the criticisms rush in from my non-Catholic "Christian" "friends".

"Christian" because I believed until tonight that we were to accept one another unconditionally in Christ's love for us regardless of what denomination of Christianity we belong to.

"Friends" because no one would treat a true friend like I have been treated.

I have told a total of 5 people about this. 1 knows it "very distant might happen". 1 knows it "is likely, but still on hold". 1 knows it "may very well happen". 2 (close Catholic friends) know it is definitely happening.

I have waited my whole adult life to be able to go to worship with my husband on one side and my son on the other. If NOTHING else that would be enough.

But it's so much more than that. So much deeper than that.

Tonight I was told by one of these people (the first 3) that there will be consequences for my decision.

Consequences for wanting a better relationship with Christ? Consequences for showing Godly submission to my spouse? Consequences for following the path He has planned for me?

I know I am on the right road and when on the right road we are subject to immense opposition. I just never thought it would come from within.