Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Radical Turn In An Old Direction: Catholicism

It has been some time since I have blogged on all things church.  I think I have been struggling with this issue for so long.  Pastors being fired, husband who would rather jog than go, children playing video games in Sunday school (they play video games everywhere already - why here in this one hour too?), big churches where we don't connect, new pastors jostling to grab the job of their fired predecessor without asking, "what does this mean?"

For a long time now - we have had a secret interest, simply: Catholicism.  I found myself saying things like, "if only churches, protestant churches, were structured like the Catholic church" - assuming that I could never take that dive and attend a Catholic church.  After all, they pray to Mary - and that's just crazy right?

I now see that we (my husband and I) have been on a journey.  It seemed dark and forboding, worrying about churches and not knowing what God would do to help with these troubles.  Also, along the way, shafts of light: guiding questions coming to us from the most unusual places.

For example, years ago, friends of our had a son who went to a protestant theological college and in fairly short order converted to Catholicism.  They also followed suit as did his brother.  That struck us as interesting.  We did nothing other than chatter about it, but their choice stuck in our minds.

My nephew's mother is Catholic.  Ardently so.  We went to my nephew's catholic-something-or-other and liked it.  Alot.  That was when we learned we could go up for a blessing and not be turned away as un-Catholic.  We had also been to his christening and there was something so charming and beautiful about the church itself, its art work, the life of the building that held on to me over the years. 

Further back, years ago, I had to miss my first high-school dance.  I was so choked.  My dad had bought tickets (can you imagine?) to go see Pope John Paul II.  We weren't Catholic so I knew as soon as I told him that it was the night of my first ever high-school dance, dear old Dad would understand that I would be of course passing on the Pope festivities.  Oddly, he did not.  Nor did my I-just-want-you-to-be-happy mother.  That floored me. 

I ended up going with my dad and a friend of mine from school.  How she ended up agreeing to come, I still don't know.  Anyway, that night, Pope John Paul II took a stroll around and was laying hands and blessing pretty much everyone he came into contact with.  He reached over and touched my head.  Dad had gotten floor seats like it was a rock concert.  The use of the word rock now makes me smile.  From St. Peter, the rock, to his successor, who had kindly smiled at me.  I didn't know the importance of that small act then, but it matters a lot to me now. 

Reading impacts my life in many ways.  Mostly, I have a giant list of books that I want to get through, but occasionally, I will pick something up that grabs my attention.  In the past year, I was grabbed by the cover of a book: "Why Catholics are Right."  I was standing in a bookstore when I saw it.  With a cover like that, I couldn't buy it in front of anyone, so I borrowed it from the library.  I deeply enjoyed it.  Not that it was particularly well-written.  It was even a little bit overly defensive in tone, but it did smash apart some misconceptions I have had for years, and it certainly led me to seek more.

I read a second book.  The dear friend who recommended it to me, meant it to encourage me in my life in the protestant church.  The book is "Chasing Francis."  I loved it, but it only interested me more in the Catholic church. 

Further, we met a new family last fall.  With four children, I knew they would likely be Christian, and probably they would be Catholic.  They were, they are.  The mom I really connected with over - big surprise - reading.  Certainly not over her passion for jogging.  We differ slightly in our levels of discipline....

She and I talked a lot about books etc,... but what really struck both my husband and I was that when we went to the States for a hockey tournament, they went to mass on the Saturday night before our team dinner out.  It wasn't even their church and they just went like it was.  Turns out, that church, because it's Catholic is their church too.  My husband and I both liked that a lot.  We also liked that there was a service available for them.  Actually, there were lots of services available for them.  It's sort of the Catholic way in major centers.

That was a major key for us.  The universality of the church.  A Catholic church in France, or Mexico, or other provinces, is just as much as person's church as the one that they attend regularly at home. 

So we decided to go for the duration of Lent and see how we felt...

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