When two rough edges achieve proximity there will be friction- and perhaps eventual annihilation unless a light, sweet lubricant is interposed; cooling and smoothing the way to a mirror sheen and eventual union. Such is a consolation of Religion in general and the Holy Spirit in particular. For some Great Good reason, the Almighty decided to squirt this Grace between my wife and I. Experiences and life progressed and we intuitively realized that Faith and its practice (an organized religion)was to be an essential ingredient to our life.
Regular Church attendance being a prerequisite our first question was which denomination. We were married in a Methodist church; therefore we began attending the nearest United Methodist Church in our new community. While my wife was comfortable at first in these surroundings we both seemed to sense the lack of sacredness. Jesus was a Great Guy though; we were all supposed to be really nice, accommodating to anything that seemed incongruent to what we would foolishly deem Holiness. Life was just a serial misunderstanding of people’s true needs and we were to work at our lack of perception of these needs. Once in a while we would get a cracker and some grape juice and pretend that we understood the symbolism of this inconsequential episode.
We were even given the chance to truly understand our Pastor, who confided during one sermon that he was not convinced of the Divinity of Christ- he only became a Pastor because that is what his father did and it seemed like a good idea at the time. I assume most of the congregation could feel his pain. We could not: this place was not for us. Ever since, the image of a Cross enveloped in a bright red flame- the emblem of the United Methodist Church- had taken an entirely new meaning for us.
With a nudge from above my wife( a former agnostic with an anti-Catholic legacy) agreed we should now go to the Catholic Church up the road a bit. This church was a pleasant community of believers which had two added bonuses- the first being that our employers worshipped there; while the second perk was the fact that it was a bit closer to home. Immediately I was swept up in the remembrance of things both mysterious and sacred, while to my quiet surprise so was Diane. Not really knowing why, she felt a strong attraction to the liturgical practices of Orthodoxy-most especially the celebration of the Eucharist. In a rare display of prudence I refrained from my secret elation that I had “won the War of Religion” in our nascent family tradition.
A practical Germanic woman of southeastern Pennsylvania, my wife held these things close to her heart and pondering them, occasionally asked questions about Catholicism. Her questions stunned me, and in an even more abrupt turn my answers were revelatory to her.
No, Mary is not worshipped
No, Sins are nor paid for
Statues of Saints are just reminders of heroes, nothing more.
We aren’t FORCED to go to Mass, but firmly reminded what the consequences are if God is put aside in life or treated in a cavalier way.
Confession to a Priest is scriptural; and Sacred Tradition is an essential part of Faith- for is not Scripture itself born of this?
It’s NOT about the sermon (homily)!!
These answers came unbidden to my mind and I was surprised at what I could glean from those lessons poorly taught from the past. While answering her questions I began to search for myself and to wrestle with conundrums lodged within my own intellect: What is Papal infallibility? What does the Immaculate Conception signify? However I first decided where to plant my flag: what Hill was I willing to die on and most importantly why? So I did indeed dig a fighting position and the WHY HERE? I was borrowed from Diane- her essential decision for Catholicism was rooted in the most basic illumination of what Faith really means and does. Her practical mind moved like this- Who do I take as role models in this world? Whose lives do I wish my own to mirror? With each of these questions came the same answer: Catholics she has/had known.
And THERE was the rub- an itch started by Christ which transforms the world.