Saturday, December 25, 2010

You're not Catholic

I've (mostly) tried to leave my quest for dedication to one denomination off the blog. The dearest people in my life range quite devotedly from Southern Baptist to Roman Catholic and everywhere in between. And on any given day you can find me.....somewhere in between.

I'll argue with you to the death that I am a saved, Spirit filled, baptized child of the One true God and still all people really want to know is, "What church do you go to?" So tempting to give a crazy, off the wall answer like......well, I won't even go there.

I grew up Baptist, went to a Methodist university, went to the Methodist church.....twice, went to a Christian church for a year, went to a Charismatic church for 3 years and returned for a brief siesta in the Baptist church in recent years. Mixed in were several life changing, relationship with God altering, eternal moments at the Monastery worshipping with the monks mostly in complete silence. Add to that praying the Daily Office in my own life and with an amazing community of believers on-line and it's not hard to see why I've perhaps confused myself. Which, among other reasons, is why I have referred to me at least 3 times just this week as spiritually schizophrenic.

The constant bzzzzz in my head in the past 6 months has been, "gottafindachurchgottafindachurchgottafindachurchgottafindachurch" and not for lack of trying.....I have not. I HATE being the visitor at church after years of being so involved. I hate starting with, "Hi. I'm Brenda." during visiting time thinking I'm probably not even going to come back to this church! I much prefer the "at least someone already knows my NAME for crying out loud" scenario. Glass half empty-----I know.

I have to wait for my feelings to catch up with my mind and my heart sometimes and this decision has been no exception. I've visited some amazing churches and felt like a visitor. I've enjoyed watching other people belong to their congregations and left thinking, "that was....nice." But, each time leaving with a feeling more like "let me out" and not so much "can I play too?"

Enter Christmas Eve service. My friends say all the time I need a t-shirt that says, "I play with the high church on holidays." Guilty. I love the high church. I love the liturgy and the music and an order of service. I can't help it. Something (Someone?) draws me to that style of worship. So, last night at the midnight service at the Catholic Church I just needed a moment with the Lord. We needed to connect.....big time. My friends and I decided to sit apart from each other so we could focus (trust me) so I sat by myself in the back amidst at least 200 people.

Maybe because it was so late. Maybe because the service was so stunningly beautiful. Maybe because the connection was there. It took me a moment to put a finger on that feeling.........Peace. You'll have to trust me that peace and church have not been connected in recent months and my brain took awhile to connect that. It was so comforting. I left with tears streaming down my face and my friends who have walked this road with me this year left in tears too. (Everyone should have a friend that will cry with them.....mho). I left from there and went to work enveloped in peace that can only come from The Lord for hours.

Which may have left me even more confused, because as my friends insist on pointing out almost seriously, "You're not Catholic."

11 comments:

deodate said...

Glad you felt a connection at that Church. Remember, the definition of catholic is universal. Each church is filled with humans and so each has its little 'issues', but the most important thing is where you feel most at peace. I am Catholic, I work at my Church, but I think there are many paths to God, Catholic just works for me. I pray that you find a home and a community where you will be welcomed with open arms and then as you become part of the 'family', you will welcome others. Am new to your blog - like it very much.
Andie

Virginia Episcopalian said...

I thought you would appreciate this piece of classic humor from 2002(?):
Top 10 Reasons to be an Episcopalian
(from the comedian Robin Williams, who is an Episcopalian, on an HBO special)

10. No snake handling.

9. You can believe in dinosaurs.

8. Male and female God created them; male and female we ordain them.

7. You don't have to check your brains at the door.

6. Pew aerobics.

5. Church year is color-coded.

4. Free wine on Sunday.

3. All of the pageantry - none of the guilt.

2. You don't have to know how to swim to get baptized.

And the Number One reason to be an Episcopalian:

1. No matter what you believe, there's bound to be at least one other Episcopalian who agrees with you.

Brenda said...

Andie welcome! So enjoyed your comment and thank you for the prayers. The journey continues.

Em-you. are. hilarious. and I love this. Seriously LOL! This issue needs humor and you have added that :) I may need that t-shirt....in varying denominations :)

~~Melinda Y.~~ said...

I probably need a t-shirt that says:"Married to Christ and dating the church."
I love the body(people)of Christ bound together in love. I love hearts connecting across the globe glorifying the One true God. I love growing and glowing in intimacy with God. I love pastors who are genuine, sincere, and talk truth.
The true maverick in me dislikes: the corporate side of churches, the legalism, sanctimonious leadership, the politics, and power struggles.
As I've said before, heaven will surprise alot of people.
I hope and pray with my heart, as you dial up in prayer(crying a river of tears)that peace and church will make a divine connection.
~Peace of all peace be yours~

Jordan said...

As someone who teaches against the catholic (little "c") church and their teachings, I would be extremely cautious with the road you are choosing to journey upon.

I'm also not sure your reference to the "high church". The "high church" is anything but the catholic, liturgical churches in which you reference. You bring up liturgy, music styles, and service orders. Things in which you like but I think you might have failed to realize that the true Catholic (big "C") church is the church in which the saints are gathered where we give our gifts to the Lord and not receive them like merchants in the market.

Beware. Satan masquerades as an angel of light. What we see as beauty might in all reality be a illusion of the truth.

Andie, there are not many paths to God. If this were so then Jesus would not have had to die upon a cross for our sin. It's scary to think that what works for you is valid. Perhaps a further examination of scripture is needed to help with your spiritual growth. Don't just read the Bible, study it and the truths presented in the text. God is not always satisfied with us being at peace within ourselves. The most comfort often times comes from seasons of discomfort.

How about we return to biblical and stop picking and choosing what "feels right"? How about a return to biblical truth presented in the Word of God and application in daily commitment to Christ? How about we focus more on giving our gives to further grow the universal church instead of leading ourselves into the deception of personal consumerism?

Just a though.

Brenda said...

Jordan-appreciate your thoughts. I think in this context paths to God is in reference to preference in worship styles. It is possible to be a born again believer and worship God in a liturgical setting. You are obviously welcome to your opinion but I would caution you against judging people based on one comment and not their entire story with the Lord. True-better to err on the side of caution, but also you don't know where people are coming from or what they have been through in their church settings. I have had a devestating year with my church. I have found God to be faithful at every turn both alone and corporately. His presence is not limited by denomination or even our opinions. Salvation is found in accepting Christ as Lord. After that, worship preference is individualized.

Sue said...

Brenda,

I'm not Roman Catholic either, but I love the Lord with all my heart--and I find a liturgical style of worship much more satisfying than any other style.

I think you're Catholic, just not Roman Catholic--as in a part of the body of Christ. Your faith transcends denomination.

It's really not about which man made denomination we "belong" to--it's about our hearts belonging to Jesus. I was crying last night at Christmas eve services and I know more evangelical friends who would have thought it non-moving and quite boring. Meanwhile I find the praise style worship services they prefer overstimulating.

You love God--you'll find a place to worship--or places....

Brenda said...

Thanks Sue. I'm thinking "places" may not be a bad plan for now. Love your insight! Blessings...

Meredith Gould said...

At the risk of being redundant: anyone who adheres to the Nicene Creed is catholic -- but not necessarily Catholic, nor Roman Catholic. There are a slew of Catholic churches that are not Roman. I digress.

Me? I like a more formal ("high church") liturgy, possibly because I was raised Jewish and Christian liturgical worship has deep roots in Judaism. The structure gives me a "safe container" within which to roam around and play tag with the Almighty.

As for the Church the Building (CtB) or Church the Community (CtC aka Body of Christ)...may we all find peace and good luck with that. We can spend oodles of time when you visit talking about this very issue. For now I'll just say that churches that seem "welcoming" to visitors at first may excel at first or second impressions but are hell-on-earth in the long run.

While I wouldn't stake everything on "feelings," I would pay very close attention to the promptings of Spirit that sometimes get lost in majestic liturgy as well as "biblical" ranting from the pulpit, imrho.

Brenda Finkle said...

Brenda,
Churches. Buildings filled with those who are there for varying reasons. Some to worship and love God. Others for a sense of belonging to a community. There are those that feel being in church will "save" them but don't engage or reach out to others. Bottom line? Church is full of humans. Some with the best of intentions~full of the Holy Spirit and love everyone they encounter. Others - not so much. We know the condition of humans and why Christ came to save us from ourselves and to forever wash away that sin. We've all encountered this. Everyone one of us.

Is there such a thing as a perfect church? Probably not.

I urge you to listen to God. Stay in the Word. Talk to people in each church you're considering. From all walks of life. I think you'll be surprised at what you find out.

People come and go - ministers come and go. Choose your church based on what speaks to your soul, surrounds you in love and peace, and provides the opportunity to experience the divine.

It's a decision between you and God....no one else. God knows what is best for your soul and what you need to hear His voice.

I remember a bible study where the leader said, "I don't want to get to heaven and find out I had another path before me and didn't listen." Amen to that.

Cura Animarum said...

Meredith is so very wise...listen to those movements of the Spirit. God knows better than anyone (even ourselves), what we need and where God needs us to be. Not that you need me to tell you that!

No matter what your Christian 'flavor' (or even non Christian for that matter) , when it comes to Discernment you really can't go wrong with Ignatius. If you're interested there's a great series about Ignatius' Discernment of Spirits that might be helpful. It's been a godsend to me this past year; Discernment of Spirits

You're always in my prayers friend.