Showing posts with label Coming home to the Catholic church. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Coming home to the Catholic church. Show all posts

Friday, April 22, 2016

The weight of the world lifted and the sun shone even brighter.

The last few years in particular, well OK for about 9 years now, I have seriously pondered returning to the religion and faith of my raising, the Catholic church.  Oh one thing and another always had me putting it off.  I admit, I was so very worried about what the priest might say to me, I am married to a non-Catholic for it will be 49 years this October.  Jerry is not a church goer and he has listened to me ponder and wonder over the years.  He has said so many times,  "well just go find out already".  It was as Father shared in our talk, "like avoiding a dentist until you have a major toothache and then you imagine they will have to pull all your teeth, you will need dentures, you will suffer....we build things up in our mind and imagine the very worst situation.  

On this blog previously, October 10, 2011  at this link, I wrote about my  anxiety.  What to do?  So this has not been a spur of the moment decision.  Not just a whim.  Indeed I have wondered and wandered over this for so long, stewing would be a good description.  
 https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=6733427454505364336#editor/target=post;postID=8113700771898186590;onPublishedMenu=posts;onClosedMenu=posts;postNum=7;src=postname

And so it has dragged on and on.  I have not attended the former UMC here in town for almost a year now.  I just could not abide going to church and encountering myself in the midst of a community center gathering.  I missed the liturgy.  So I started going to mass routinely not just on the days I always attend like Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, etc.  So in this Year of Jubilee, so proclaimed by Pope Francis, a man for whom I have deep admiration I finally did it.   

Yesterday two weeks  after running into Father Havel at a cousin's bedside, a cousin on Jerry's side who is awaiting death in a local nursing home, I had an appointment to go talk with the priest privately.  I waited a week to make the appointment and then talked to myself once again, "well wait until next week,  maybe later,"  The doubting voice began to intimidate me. And time can continue.  In the nursing home hallway I told Father that I am a very lapsed Catholic and needed to talk.  He assured me, "when you are ready, just call, anytime."  I quickly told him how unsure I was and that I had been attending mass for sometime, but still.   I could hear my grandma Rose's voice laughing at me as she said so long ago, "Don't talk crazy, Patty.  Once a Catholic always a Catholic.  You don't just decide you are not."  Father smiled knowingly.  Indulgently, he assured me, "there is nothing that cannot be fixed, Just  come talk to me when you are ready."

Yesterday was my day!  After  our long discussion and his listening to how I thought I was doing well enough but that I missed taking communion.  When I attend mass, I  always hang back and do not go forward, although I also shared that there have been times at funerals for loved ones where the priests and Monsignors have told me to partake.  I told him about my Grandma again and he laughed.  I told him about my late friend Roberta who tried to encourage my return fully to the faith on our attendance at mass in CA, how her  husband tried to facilitate the process with me with their Irish priest, Father O'Brien.  How many times I avoided, wondering, after all I had been lapsed for so long.  

He listened patiently to my stories, my trials, my struggles, he answered my questions (I had many), he counseled me with some scripture and offered that I might consider taking some of their ongoing faith classes.  He asked me, "who told you that you are no longer Catholic?"  I stammered, "uh, I guess myself."    He shared how when he meets with an ecumenical group and the Protestant  pastors discuss their church rolls and  rules and when someone is no longer a member of their church he is amazed.  They ask him what he does and he said, "nothing.  Once a Catholic always a Catholic." 

 I opened my mouth and he smiled, "yes, your grandmother was right.  Once a Catholic always a Catholic."  He asked me if I thought I was excommunicated?  I stammered again, "well I haven't been faithful, ah  um,uh  but..."  He laughed and  admitted to teasing me, then asked me if I was ready for Reconciliation.  My mouth fell open again, "Right now?  Right here?"  He said, "yes, here now unless you are not ready."  So with my continued  amazement, we  proceeded.  My following his words, my Act of Contrition and Confession( my first  in about 40+ years).  I felt tears of relief.  I will not go into detail for my own privacy, but when it was all over I beamed and could only say , "WOW."  Why had I waited so long?  

I had read online about Catholics returning: "If you haven’t been to Confession in a while, the Catholic Church wants to welcome you back, and invites you to participate in this beautiful sacrament of healing. Take a step in faith. You’ll be surprised about how free you feel after taking part in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. So many Catholics describe incredible feelings of peace, joy, relief, and love that they never expected. Jesus is calling you to experience His mercy in this way too."

I share here that I have never felt lighter, better. I couldn't stop smiling.  So much was lifted, I never appreciated confession more ever.  I never felt better, more blessed even though I have been blessed many times. Such glorious feeling, nothing ever compared.   Not even when following my heart attack a year ago, the  cardiologist told me I would need no surgery, treatment, etc because there was no damage to my heart and that my guardian angels came through.  I truly felt lifted, blessed, so relieved, so happy that I can now fully participate and receive communion.  I fairly floated home as I had walked up town for the meeting.  I am still in amazement today.  I know my Grandma is smiling from Heaven with my late friend Roberta. 

I will write more later sometime but I wanted to be sure to document and share this day. Yesterday will always be another birthday for me, my true home coming. And Saturday when I attend mass I will be receiving communion!  Thank you Father!