Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Just A Baby Catholic



Last week, somebody asked me how long we've been Catholic. "Seven months," I replied. I wanted to add, "And I have no idea what I'm doing." Because most of the time, I swear I don't.

I tried abandoning some of my Anglo Catholic ways, such as crossing myself at the "I believe in the resurrection of the dead" in the Creed and at the Benedictus in the Sanctus. However, I picked them back up again while reading a book on St. Thomas More, because I figured maybe there's something in being Anglo-Roman Catholic, just as there is in being Polish Catholic or Italian Catholic. Little acts that reach back into my heritage have become a security blanket, giving me a bit of peace.

Two years ago, I did a search on Anglicans who became Catholic, and I found this post by Fr. Dwight Longenecker to be strangely comforting. It was nice to see an article that admitted to Anglicans being different from other Protestant denominations. Fr. Longenecker got the nuances along with the hesitations that Anglicans have. Although I was never good at being a strict High Church Anglican (or strict about anything), I have to admit that I proudly felt like Anglicans had their theology and ecclesiology right and Catholics had gotten off track. 

When I met with a priest to talk about a homeschool dance on a fateful day in June 2014, I ended up walking away with a book by Dr. John Maquarrie, an Anglican Oxford professor who almost became Catholic before he died. It had a deceptively easy title, A Guide to the Sacraments. I admit when I saw the title I thought, 'Oh, this poor priest doesn't think I know what the sacraments are . . .' (I shake my head every time I think of this.) It took me a few days to finally crack it open, knowing that I needed to be teachable yet not realizing how truly teachable I needed to be! The book ended up being a rich meal of theology and philosophy. I had already decided earlier that year, after reading The Cross of Christ by John Stott, that the Catholic view of the sacrifice in the Eucharist was the correct one, despite Stott's careful efforts to convince otherwise. (I never told the priest this.) I had been questioning my own reasoning though, and the Maquarrie book tipped me over to the Catholic side rather completely.

So even with books on the Sacraments, books on traditions and prayers, hanging out with Catholics, and being the-closest-you-can-get-to-being-Catholic-without-being-Catholic (aka, "Anglican"), I still find myself an infant in the Church. This is an odd (and humbling) place to be when you've been Christian for your whole life. I don't always recognize statues of saints, I'm uncertain of which protocols of the Anglican Church are acceptable and which are not. (Should I wear red on Palm Sunday??) The internet helps, but only mildly. The internet can't give me the "metadata" that only living and breathing the Catholic Church can. 

"I want to be free of my ego," I told a priest at Confession. "Detachment is a good thing," he said with a smile. The self-consciousness of not knowing what I'm doing has made detachment a little difficult, but if I want freedom in being Catholic, detachment is absolutely necessary. I had been wanting to try to go to Mass daily since we became Catholic, and I have finally done so this Lent. (I have no idea how long I'll continue this.) I could write an entire blog post on the battle inside my head which waged for months to convince myself that it was normal to go to Mass every day, even though I know mothers with more children than I have who make it to Mass daily. It wasn't until Scott Hahn visited Boise last month and he mentioned attending Mass as an experiment, an intellectual exercise, that I finally felt free to go to Mass each day. (Something to write about later.) If I were detached from my ego, deciding to go to Mass every day wouldn't be such a struggle.

Our family has moved so much that being in Boise just four years seems to be a sign that our time here is almost up. I feel like Mary Poppins: I stick around a place until the wind picks me up to go somewhere else. Sometimes I find that to be a relief: Maybe I won't be so awkward in another place. Other times I find that very sad: Boise has been home to a sort of re-birth. There is nothing however on the horizon that says we'll move, and when I let go of my ego, I'm relieved. 

Coming up is our first Holy Week, our first Triduum, our first Easter as Catholics! Hopefully, we won't stick out too much as the baby Catholics that we are. And if we do, hopefully we'll be too caught up in worshiping God to care! Because ultimately we became Catholic not because of traditions and liturgies, but to know, love, and serve God better.

©2016 Emily Woodham


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