catholic roots

Posted: December 28, 2008 in church, faith, family

We’re in Kentucky for a 4 day holiday visit with my family.  In case you didn’t know, I grew up in a small farming town called Springfield.  Springfield is mostly a Catholic town, religiously speaking.  My dad and his entire family (parents and 7 siblings) are all Catholic.  The farm they grew up at is at the end of a 1 mile long driveway.  Across the road from the driveway is St. Rose Catholic Church, which not too long ago celebrated it’s 200 year anniversary.  Seriously.  The original section of the church, still there, in the same spot, was constructed over 200 years ago.  The rest of the building is over 100 years old, and is as ornate and beautiful as any Catholic or Orthodox church you’ve ever seen, either in person or in the movies.

Huge arching columns, amazing and intricate statues, 14 hand carved stations of the cross wall mountings, extremely high ceiling.  As a kid, up until I was about 11 or 12, I used to attend St. Rose fairly regularly with my dad.  I never went to “religion” classes, as I remember my Catholic friends calling them, I was never confirmed, did not participate in a “first communion” … side note, from what I remember, taking first communion for a catholic kid was much like a barmitsfah for a Jewish child – a big event, all the family invited, a party afterward with gifts, food, money.  It made me wish I had a first communion.  Am I too old for one now?  I could sure use a few hundred dollars.

Anyways … it’s probably been 15-18 years since I last attended a Catholic Mass, and roughly 10 years since I was inside the church.  On our recent visits to Kentucky, I’ve wanted to go, but it just hasn’t worked out.  Last evening, I finally had the chance to go back to Mass.  Erin actually got to go with me, which was her first time ever attending a Catholic church Mass.  It was just as I remember it.  Short, ritualistic, repetitive, sort of monotone.  But I also enjoyed it in a way that I never did as a child.  I still don’t know the routine (lots of standing, sitting, responsive prayers, kneeling, and stuff that would take a while to learn), but as I’ve grown in my faith and my religious worldview, I can finally appreciate the beauty of Mass.

It was neat to see people there 15 minutes early, kneeling in their pews, praying silently.  It was warming to watch an old priest, who’s been there for years and is highly beloved by his flock, recite the decades old prayers and service liturgy.  For some of the responsive parts, I was able to follow along in a book and participate more freely.  And…even though I’ve probably attended at least 25 – 30 Masses in my lifetime, last night, for the first time ever, I actually participated in the Catholic eucharist.

My dad was there with us.  He normally goes each Sunday morning at 8:00 am, but he attended with Erin and I on Saturday night, which was cool.  I didn’t discuss with him before hand that I was going to partake in the eucharist, and I”m not sure what he thought about it.  I have a feeling it caught him off guard a little when I rose to enter the center aisle, to walk down toward the priest, and have him hand me “the body of Christ” (and let me add it was quite possbily the most cardboard tasting communion wafer/cracker I’ve ever eaten).  15 years ago, I simply would not have considered doing so, since I wasn’t Catholic.  But now I understand that the partaking of communion is not a religious right, only to be enjoyed by those who’ve followed the proper rules and taken the appropriate membership classes.  Rather, it’s the privelage of all believers, to be humbly partaken by any and all who follow Christ Jesus, regardless or race, location, denomination, or method of baptism.

It’s taken me a long time to view Catholicism not as a wrong religion, but simply as a different one.  There are and probably always will be things I don’t really agree with (confession to a priest, transubstantiation, offering prayers to the virgin Mary as one who speaks to Jesus on our behalf, the dominion of the Pope).  But I also understand that Catholics believe in God the Creator of the world and Father of all mankind.  They believe in Christ Jesus, born of Mary, who died for our sins and rose again from the grave.  And they believe in righteous living and the hope of eternal life through faith in Christ.

These are the things that make us brothers and sisters.  These are the beliefs that ultimately unite all Christ followers.  And this is why I’m finally at peace with my Catholic roots.

  1. Michael Cody says:

    Catholics also, through experimentation of casting out demons, created vampires and zombies…. not something too agreed upon by the Gospel. Careful where you tread J-Dog. I know about the inner-workings of Catholic churches. Ive seen John Carpenters’ Vampires, Constantine and Van Helsing.

  2. Jason says:

    Thank God there were about 7 different stations around the church that contained holy water. I could have been in big trouble.

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