Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Adventures in the ongoing discovery that I may not be cut out for nundom, part II: Eucharist.

Obvious statements are the rule of the day, and this one is…
I’m not a Catholic.
That’s actually a rather profound statement for me, as I tend to get all ecumenical, insisting that we’re all “catholic” (small c, meaning the church universal). And in fact I was very nearly Catholic for a while, in Uganda at the village church where I came up at my first Mass with hands obediently crossed for a non-wafer blessing, and dear old Father Grandpa, clearly not screening for the Protestant hand-cross position, put the wafer straight into my unsuspecting mouth. As I munched (and thought duly reverent thoughts) I rejoiced that at least for a while the Table was not fenced from me… and I continued taking Mass, often at the daily dawn service, throughout my time in that village. I know how to cross myself, and when to kneel, etc, even in the Luganda language. When I went to the capital I attended Kampala Pentecostal, because I am a unifier, not a divider, and because the (English!) sermons were fantastic.
So there have been many times where I have taken part in a Catholic Eucharist from which I was technically barred. I love Eucharist with all my heart, and never want to miss out.
But here my non-Catholicity was at the forefront of my mind, thanks to a few talks by Father Jerome, possibly The Least Likely Candidate for a vow of silence (when he’s allowed to talk, as in lectures, he is extroverted and overbearingly jolly). All this stuff he said about the hierarchical church, and the succession of rule from Peter through popes to bishops and priests? I SO do not buy that. And I heard more about Mary in the past 2 days than the previous 2 years, only some of which I comprehended, much less accepted. I quickly realized I was walking through a foreign land.
There is a sign at the Abbey chapel saying something along the lines of “we welcome members of non-Catholic faith communions to celebrate with us. We cannot share with you in the Sacrament of Holy Communion but we invite you to pray with us for peace and unity.”
So I did. Instead of protesting by breaking and flaunting the rules, I lamented and mourned the division of churches. My standing still at the side of the row while other worshippers filed past was, for me, a poignant reminder of our broken relations. I prayed and continued to pray that we may all be One, as the persons of the Trinity are One (although Three).

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