Mass…

Catholic Mass always existed as some sort of forbidden fruit for me.  This fascination bordering on obsession directly results from my Presbyterian/Baptist upbringing that identified Catholics as idolaters and casted their rituals into the realms of cult-like devotion.   I was entranced by Catholics praying to the Virgin Mary as an intercessor, a practice that was viewed with disdain or condemnation by all of the Protestants I knew.  The more my religious teachers spurned Catholic belief, the more I longed to be Catholic.

Although I am still not Catholic, I recite Hail Marys when I am frightened or in need of comfort.  I wear a medal depicting the Blessed Virgin.  And, if you ask me, I will tell you I wish I had been born Catholic.

Amazing how we always seem to want what we can’t have.

Which brings us to Holy Week 2009.  The days of Holy Week leading up to Easter Sunday resonate strongly with me.  I am profoundly moved to deeper devotion during these services (Maundy Thursday and Good Friday).   So, last night, when I was invited to Mass for Maundy Thursday, I jumped at the chance to attend.  I mean, wouldn’t my devotion be all the deeper if it were tinged with a bit of the forbidden Catholicism?

The answer, sadly:  No.

Given my propensity not to think things through, I landed myself in the middle of Mass on a day where the focal point of the service is partaking in Communion.  Except, I can’t take Communion in a Catholic Church.  My brand of Christianity is not accepted there.  I knew this beforehand, but after hearing so many times at Protestant churches that the Communion table was Christ’s table, not specific to any denominational leaning… well, let’s just say my inability to participate in Communion at Mass didn’t fill me with the love of Christ.*

Protestants are also notorious for being in a church service no longer than an hour.  The pastors have it timed to the minute.  And, if they run over, don’t think folks don’t start getting up to go get their donuts and coffee.  But Mass last night, two and a half hours.  Two. and. a. half. hours.  I kept looking at the program thinking: Surely, they have made a mistake.  There can’t be that much more singing, chanting, and/or kneeling.  Oh, but there was… there sure was.

Parts of Mass were beautiful.  Parts seemed familiar to me, since the Methodist church I was attending embraced the liturgy.  But, ultimately, I felt alien… other.  I wanted to connect to God, but I felt too tripped up by the ways in which I wasn’t Catholic to really do so.

So, it looks like the Protestants are stuck with me.  I am sure they will be thrilled.

*Reference to Saved!, one of my favorite movies ever!

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