50 States Church Surch, Week 20
"So now there is no condemnation for those who are set free in Jesus."
I was born and raised Catholic, in a big way. Baptized, altar boy, choir, parochial school for twelve years, the whole enchilada. And while others whine about how they have to recover from those terrible nuns whacking their hands with rulers, now a teacher tells a student he must do his homework or get a B+ and the parents bring in a lawyer. I'll take Sister Mary Michael any day. And they never beat me. Sister Gertrude scared all of us, as she threw erasers at errant children. She couldn't get around much and compensated well. If she had decent legs she could have pitched for the Yankees.
But no regrets here. I feel my faith got a great foundation from a Catholic upbringing, with training, discipline and awe of God. Then at age seventeen, a child of the sixties, I had a dramatic encounter with the Lord in a Baptist church, of all places. The next Sunday I went to Mass at our Catholic church, and I couldn't believe it! Everything in the liturgy was right on. Then Apostles' Creed? Spot on. Except no one paid any attention.
St. Joseph's brought no surprises, and the smell of incense and wax fired memories long past. The church, almost full, contained almost exclusively gray hairs. Gray to white actually. What happens when they go?
The liturgy, a two edged sword, was the same as when I attended at seven to eighteen years. While tradition is good, the service gets lost in its sameness. Actually, before my seventh birthday, Mass was read in Latin. English was a great leap forward.
One thing happened at this church, this denomination, that hasn't occurred in any other church this trip.
I understand Jesus is My confidante, an awesome Man, the guy who made water become wine so the marriage feast could rock on into the night. But there is still an aspect of God, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords that one should approach Him on one's knees. I like that. Sometimes I think the modern churches serve up Jesus, their buddy, who winks at sin, and ain't life great, no worries.
The priest spoke about Jesus took no risks going to the cross. A mountain climber takes risks, but He knew exactly what He was doing and where He was going and how it turned out. I don't know. He sweat blood in Gethsemane, the daunting specter of His hideous death before Him.
After the service ended, I walked around the sanctuary and observed the Stations of the Cross. These are places that depict the passion of Jesus, His crucifixion and death. But the last one? Where is the resurrection? Catholics believe in Christ's rising, but don't seem to celebrate it as much as His death.
In an interesting twist, no one left after communion. Usually once communion got over, the obligation was met and people scuttled out the door. Not a soul. Cool. Nobody spoke to me in the church or as I walked out. I jumped on the bike and left.
No, Sister Gertrude never tossed an eraser at me. I sat still with my hands folded. Right.