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This Little Light of Mine

June 9, 2010

I’ve been to a variety of Catholic churches across the country. I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly

I’ve heard Masses where the women behind me consistently replaced God’s name with “Sophia” and every masculine pronoun with a feminine one. I kid you not.

I’ve heard a Christmas sermon that was entirely about the priest’s favorite part of Christmas: everything in stores being 70% off the day after. Seriously.

I could go on. Most of the churches have been your in-between variety. Your run of the mill priests and parishioners. And a lot of heavy subscription to what I have heard called “the pet God theology.” As in, God is there to guard you, guide you, and forgive you if you mess up. He will trail along beside you and wants you to be happy and loving. But, heaven forbid he ask you to do anything, you know, hard.

So, as much as I hate to admit it, I church shop whenever we move. I can’t help it, I’m weak and easily enticed to sleeping in on Sundays or skipping mass on holy days of obligation after a long days work. I can’t find God in those ugly Modern churches that hide the tabernacle in some back corner with the sole statue of Mary. I should be able to deal with it, Mass is Mass, the Eucharist is fully consecrated regardless of it’s location. But I need the steeples, the stained glass, the wooden worn pews. Like I said, I struggle.

This was our first weekend finding a church near us and I had one all picked out. Only we arrive to discover that the diocese website needs to be updated. What was once Holy Redeemer is now St. Il Yun, a Korean Catholic church. I know, same Mass, but when it’s in Korean I really don’t get much out of it. Plus, I just felt awkward.

I pull out my trusty iPhone and locate another nearby parish with an approaching Mass time. We head over and no one, not a soul, is there. Looks like a really cute church, but no sign with mass times. Another fail.

Now, before we had moved I had looked into whether there were any Latin rite masses in our area. I have been to a couple Latin Masses and find them– extraordinary. My husband, being a recent convert, highly prefers English Masses, which I understand and respect (hey, I can’t do Korean). As it turned out, there was a parish near by that had just started saying the Latin Rite again and we were rapidly running out of options– it was getting really late and I knew the Latin Mass was at noon– and only ten miles away. I tentatively suggested we try it out and HH plugged the location into our GPS in agreement.

The church itself was gorgeous and I breathed a sigh of relief when we stepped inside and the warm smell of incense flooded its way into my senses. Two nuns (in full habit, no less) came up to greet us (and coo over the baby). They asked our baby’s name and, as it was, we were at a church named for his patron saint. They gave LPK a small miraculous medal and told us that they pray daily for those to whom they give the medals.

The Mass was lovely. I’m fairly lost during Latin Masses– so I can either pour over the missal and studiously read along, or I can just let the peace of Christ fill me and let forth all the prayers that have been building up inside.

The priest started his sermon on the Feast of Corpus Christi in a somewhat abrasive manner. My husband and I glanced at each other, we weren’t sure if we were going to like what we heard. And I didn’t.

I didn’t because he did not spend twenty minutes telling me “Kudos for getting yourself to Mass. Be nice to your neighbor. Donate to our KofC raffle. And here’s an easy breakdown of today’s gospel.” He didn’t make me feel good about myself.

Instead, the priest challenged us. He challenged us to really live our faith. To be part of the Corpus Christi procession across town. To go to confession and examine our conscience. To be unafraid of practicing our faith before others. To rid our homes and hearts of those things that turn us away or distract us from God. He didn’t mince his words either. He didn’t coddle us from the pulpit. He wasn’t scary– not a hell and damnation preacher, he was passionate. He actually knew it was his job to lead us and he really wanted to.

I was impressed and moved.

My faith, which was once like a roaring angulfing fire, is more comparable to a sputtering candle right now. It’s going, but it’s not giving me a lot of light to see by. It seems easy to extinguish– but it’s a trick candle, it goes out and then pops back up when I least expect it. So I’m on this precipice. I either need to take the literal leap of faith and just go for it, hand over everything (and I mean everything) to God. Or back off, continue wandering in the desert for another long while and return to this point when I feel good and ready.

(Why, yes, I was going for the record number of cliche metaphors in that paragraph!)

I don’t even know why I am here. Except that I want to have the faith I once had. I’m a cradle Catholic, I feel like I don’t even have an excuse. I should never have made any of the mistakes I did. I knew better. I’ve set a terrible example for my recent convert husband. I want to do better for my son.

I don’t want to be always questioning. I either believe or I don’t. And I do, 75% of the time. I want it to be 100%. But, oh wait, that would mean not being in control.

It always boils down to the same thing.

My will or His.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 9, 2010 5:14 pm

    Wow! Sounds like you found an awesome church. Wish we had something like that around here. What did you hubby think? Are you thinking of returning?

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