After being away from church for a while with a debilitating cold, it’s nice to be back. Taken today just after the few who had gathered had left.
So today I finally got around to taking the wheels into the shop. We had four slow leaks.
The auto shop is pretty cool. In a grubby end of town under gentrification. The shop has been around for years, unchanged, and is pure Starsky and Hutch. The characters coming and going… I swear I could write a successful TV pilot from just a few hours there!
But I didn’t stay the whole time. I had to get away. So I walked to the downtown core, which is getting more congested every year. Felt more like Chicago or New York instead of my once modest Toronto.
After an icky visit to the Eaton Centre – don’t like it much any more – I hopped over to the newly renovated St. Michael’s Cathedral. I haven’t been to Mass for about a week and felt like a fish out of water… happily diving back into the tank after almost thirsting to death for the waters of heaven.
But it was a huge change from the auto shop.
Leaving, I noticed a brand new flatscreen monitor by the exit. It seemed strange and unnecessary. But what do I know?
I just took the picture…
Over the holidays TCM broadcast an old film about Bernadette, the young village woman who allegedly saw the Blessed Virgin Mary at Lourdes. It was a good film. Made me think about the whole thing. Here’s a pic of a Catholic church named after all that.
Ever since I converted to Catholicism back in 2001, I found it was a two-sided experience. I had been going through a challenging time after living in India for a couple of years. The West seemed strange, and I learned what they mean by the term, reverse culture shock.
Some people take their hard shell selves with them when they travel. And they return home as if they’d just watched a nice slide show. They know a little more about the world but remain fundamentally unchanged. Not so with me. I was going through a tremendous time of transition. So I was soaking up Indian ways – and vibes – more than most.
I was very open. This openness and sensitivity is a good thing. But I needed something to get me back to my truest self. My core.
Funnily enough, as a former Protestant who never went to church growing up, I found that Catholicism was the path that brought me back to myself. Not just to my Western ego. For me, that’s necessary but secondary. No, I mean my genuine, created self. The one who stands before God in humility and full realization of his human imperfection.
So all fine and dandy, right? I found my spiritual home after years of searching. And I didn’t have to travel miles and miles to exotic lands to feel well. Catholic churches are ubiquitous. In fact, where I live, I tend to rotate among seven, all within about 15 minutes of home. A taste of heaven in 15 minutes. Not bad.
So what’s the problem? Is there a problem?
Well, yes and no.
No, if I keep rotating and don’t get too invested in any single parish. Yes, if I try to be like regular churchgoers.
I’m sure a mean-spirited psychiatrist would have a field day with that. “He cannot settle down in any one parish. He needs to constantly escape to feel anonymous,” etc. etc.
But it’s really not that simple. And I think some people just don’t get why I have to do Catholicism my own way.
It gets back to my sensitivity. In any parish there is good and not so good. There are nice and not so nice people. There are priests who seem en route to heaven and others who might be in for a rude surprise when they die.
And I tend to sense vibes from all of this. Not just the heavenly graces, but also the very real human stuff. It’s always a balancing act. If I frequent one parish too often, there’s a kind of build up of the same stuff. It’s like watching the same movie over and over again. But worse, you’re also picking up the same vibes ad nauseam.
So I rotate.
Sometimes I grow disenchanted or fatigued by the overall Catholic scene. Several times I’ve tried just staying away. But after a week or two, I’m always happy to get back.
It’s a funny thing, similar to a plant needing water, but not too much water. Too much and the plant drowns, just as being dehydrated can kill too. And if you always draw your water from the same well, the same assortment of trace pollutants could build up. So it’s better to draw your water from different wells.
Today I’m feeling slightly over-watered, so to speak, by the same type of water. Last week I did a little experiment. I went to the same parish every day. There were nice things, nice people and nice conversations. But toward the end of the week, the buildup was happening again. The same old vibes, the same old stuff. And the same texture of the Holy Spirit (for me, each parish differs that way too).
I don’t really know why I’m sharing this publicly. For years I’ve kept my private experience to myself or only shared with my intimate friends. But today I confess: I can’t be a perfectly conventional Catholic but at the same time, I can’t be without Catholicism.
Perhaps some of you can relate in your own way, in your own circles.
When I tell people that I like to go to catholic mass I often sense some kind of inner reservation from the other person. I’m not surprised. I know why. Or I have a pretty good idea. The Inquisitions, the child abuse, the corruption. Or maybe just the regimentation. Not to forget the sexism.
I know all about that stuff but regardless, still feel the Holy Spirit active in the Mass. Some folks give me a blank or hard look when I say that. To me, that just tells me something about where they are. Many people think they are open minded but imo are just as narrow and regimented in their thinking as any hardcore Catholic.
Myself, I just go on what I feel. And that leaves me open to a whole new vista that I didn’t even know existed, prior to recognizing the call.
(Transcript, with a few edits, from dictation with the Dragon app)
I converted to Catholicism in 2001. I did so for spiritual not political or social reasons. I felt tremendous power and graces within the church, like I’d never felt before. Maybe once or twice I experienced something similar in Protestant churches but never had I encountered anything as powerful and complete as within the Catholic setting. There’s more to the story than that but it’s not really worth going into.
What I would like to talk about it is Pope Francis’ most recent statement that married people who do not have children are selfish. I think that is a ludicrous statement. I also think it will turn off my married friends – without children – who might have otherwise considered going to Mass to see what it’s like. When non-Catholics read statements like that, it’s not going to attract them to the Catholic faith.
Not that my raison d’être is to bring people to the Catholic faith. It’s not. Anyone who knows me knows that I accept and respect people where they’re at. I don’t think Catholicism is appropriate for everyone. And I only encourage people to come with me or check out Mass for themselves if I think they might gain some benefit from it.
Now, to return to the Popes’s latest statement… Several objections came to mind, actually so many that I felt almost overwhelmed. I realized I could spend hours critiquing the Pope’s statement. Luckily, however, I found this blog.
I think the above post (and its comments) provide an excellent discussion on the issue. But there is one facet of the conversation that is not really included. And that is the element of money. Of making a living. Something, by the way, that functional priests and popes don’t really have to worry about.
As discussed at the above link, I agree that a couple could join in a holy relationship primarily for spiritual support, for companionship, to do good works, and to spread spirituality throughout the globe or in their neighborhoods. It is also far easier for two people to make a living and pay the bills than it is for a single person. The Catholic Church, the priests, the clergy—they only have a vicarious grasp of this. Sure, they must perform within a busy schedule (some might say a partially self-legitimizing one). But they also get what could be called “free money.” If the roof starts to leak, the furnace blows, the pipes burst or the walls start to crumble, they don’t really have to fret. The “free money” always seems to magically appear from somewhere. And the very best tradespersons always arrive, pronto.
Most of us don’t have that kind of luxurious financial backup. And anyone who gets “free money” like that and harshly judges others who don’t, well I really think they should ask themselves if they’re in touch with the reality of living, and of making a living, in the 21st century.
The other day I got an interesting volunteer question at allexperts.com. I was super busy so wasn’t able to answer it until the wee hours of the morning. Even then I only answered it partially, partly because I read the question one way, and then later on, read it another way. When I realized the second way was the right way, I added some more to my answer.
The question was about the New Testament passage, 1 Peter 3:18-4:6. Who was Jesus speaking to? Is there more than one answer? My reply shows how Catholics are able to debate matters of biblical interpretation that are related to non-dogmatic topics.
Read the full question and answer here: http://en.allexperts.com/q/Catholics-955/2013/4/1st-peter-3-18.htm
- 1 Peter 1…A Living Hope (simplyjuliana.com)
- 1 Peter 2…The Living Stone and a Holy People (simplyjuliana.com)
- 1 Peter 1…A Living Hope (5wise.wordpress.com)
- Daily Verse: 1 Peter 1:3-4 (faithfulprovisions.com)
- Message Talk: Full Virus Protection (2 Peter 1:1-4) (discipleshipfirst.wordpress.com)
- I don’t have any kids but if I did… (mclark.wordpress.com)
- Daily Feast: 1 Peter 1:3-6 (kycotchristiangifts.wordpress.com)
- Oh My Browline! (christianspinster.wordpress.com)
- Daily Verse: 1 Peter 2:6 (faithfulprovisions.com)