I really don't enjoy going to Catholic Church. I am not Catholic and I have a lot of reasons for that. A lot of really great reasons. It seems though that nearly all of my current friends are Catholic which means I end up in Catholic Church a few times a year. I can tell you that with out fail something is said in every single Mass that makes my liberal Protestant skin crawl.
This past weekend we attended a First Holy Communion Mass. This was a first for me. I should tell you that as much as I have feelings about Catholicism, I know that these moments are really important to our friends who have invited us to share in them. I try every time to go in with an open heart and mind. I tell myself and usually Paul, that hey they find meaning here and that's OK actually it's wonderful that they have found meaning at all. So we marched in ready to do our duty as loyal friends and lovers of God. I can tell you hands down that the Catholics have got better churches to look at, all though the acoustics coupled with voice amplification drive me batty. They are usually beautiful. Saturday was no exception. We grabbed our copy of the liturgy and sat down in the very last row as to have an escape route if Lilia got out of hand. She had after all just spent 2 hours in her car seats
Mass started, the Priest was very personable, I liked that a lot. I felt like we could have a great conversation, that's an important trait for clergy. He had to remind people many times not to take pictures unless they were on the balcony. He had to ask several times for quiet during silent prayer. I thought to myself how annoying must this be, something he sees as so holy and sacred and people are treating it like a birthday party or small wedding.
There were the typical theological snafus for me but none that really made me angry. I watched with great attentiveness as I had never seen this before and I am a lover of all things religious ritual even when I don't agree with the theology. I was left wondering why the boys wore large white bows on their arms? It was a beautiful sacred event.
The thing that really got me were how many fake Catholics were there and how many people lacked the reverence and respect that this sacred moment deserved. Here's the deal I sat in the back row and I could see everyone. I couldn't believe how many people were wrapped up in either this is my kid and I need to get the perfect picture of this moment or that were just plain disrespectful. Not following along, talking and down right ignoring the instructions. Here I was the life long Protestant and I felt like I had more reverence and respect than some of my Catholic counter parts.
The same holds true in our church. It's a shared frustration. I just feel that if you are going to walk through the doors of a church you should respect the beliefs of that body. You don't have to agree with them or participate but you can at least sit quietly and try to take it in and understand what is going on.
I should mention our friends daughter looked beautiful and I was able to see her accept the Eucharist. They treated us and some close family to a wonderful lunch afterwards. It wasn't a small wedding. It was lovely and perfect for the occasion. I am impressed by how they take their commitment to raising their daughters in this way seriously and personally. They go to church every week because their daughter has to be there and they don't want to send her and be hypocrites!
Now that is what I am talking about!
I am proud to call them our friends.
Today I am grateful that I am able to see the beauty in a faith that doesn't always sit well with me. I am also grateful for those friends who are doing such a great job raising their girls.
May you be blessed by amazing friends like ours.