14 July 2013

The Necessity of Community

Discoveringand consequently spending a good hour or two reading Catholic blogs and pagesis like wading in a deep, cool pool on a sunny day. I discovered that a two people I know (not well) have blogs and it's making me partly excited, partly nostalgic (as they're connected to my university) and a good deal happy to have more reading material.

It seems like everyone has a blog these days. Sometimes it's brilliant because they're brilliant and actually have interesting things to say, hopefully compelling things to say that make you consider a new way to think about a topic or help you refine your thoughts on the topic. Other times, it isn't so much. But that hasn't been the case too much with people I've seen! Since I'm usually seeking other Catholic writers these days, this makes me particularly happy.

One of the worst parts about finishing school has been leaving what became my home parish, the church where I converted and was Confirmed and made friends and formed pretty good habits of daily Mass attendance. This year, the friends I made were in the same boat of leaving the area. My sponsor M and her husband H left quite early on, even. Then I was leaving nearly two months before I expected to and in an instant I saw daily Mass and walking and praying routines vanishing.

The next and last time I went to Mass I was as joyful as I usually am to be at Mass, but it
much was tinged with sorrow thinking that my next regular experience of Mass would be different and unknown. I was pleased that my favorite (it happens) priest of the parish was saying Mass that Friday. I took special note, as one should with any Mass, but especially thinking, "This may be the last time you hear the words of consecration here. Hear them? Can you hear them as you did the night you were Confirmed, the night the chapel was slowly illuminated from the back by the Easter candle into brilliance, the night you completely changed?" When Mass ended, I prayed and set about trying to memorize a few things, as I often do when I fear a "last" moment is coming up. The stained glass shining brilliantly in the early afternoon light, the altar, the pieta statue, the painting of the Holy Family with Mary's kind face, the crucifix...

I had gazed upon the crucifix more than any other spot in the chapel over the last two and a half years (the only thing that competes is the Eucharist, which would have a better literal gazing chance if I were there more frequently when the Blessed Sacrament were exposed; a metaphorical gazing on the real presence, on the other hand....). The constant reminder of Christ's death was at once wounding and beautiful. The statues of his Mother and disciples around him drew me in by their size and position at the base of the Cross.

I feel like I have become a completely new person in that church, and I have. I first entered the chapel on a dark evening, candles lighting the pews, with confusion at genuflection and pretty much every step of the Mass, very uncertain but largely aware of something very powerful going on. If only my ignorant self could have known back then. I would have fallen eagerly on bended knee, sung joyously with hymns, had my breath stolen at Communion. But those were the things that did happen in time. I learned about Mass and Faith, myself and others there. I did bend, sing and gape at the beauty I witnessed there, which culminated no better than at Easter Vigil. Easter Vigil, where I steeled myself with an excited breath as I turned from the pew to the altar in the Communion procession, where I at last heard, "The body of Christ," spoken to me, where I made the sign of the cross at the side of the altar, where for once in my life I was too happy to cry (wild, since I cry at anything, especially happy things).

With all I learned and all the community I had there, it has seemed much harder work to stay inspired and driven and diligent since coming home. I know it matters not as much the particular church as much as The Church, but that support is so helpful and necessary to everyone (I imagine not only newbies, though I feel they possibly need it the most). I need to be coming home to Catholicism every day. I desperately need the Church and Her members to stay strong in this race. We all need each other.

No comments:

Post a Comment