Sunday, April 3, 2011
My Brush With Catholocism: Part V
Entering a Catholic church as a Baptist is pretty much like entering a nationally renowned museum for the first time. You become a bit awestruck by the grandness of it. The big Jesuses, the stained glass, the huge organ pipes which sound, oddly enough, like the background music in "The Exorcist" when the priest is giving the demon the ole' heave-ho. The first time I entered a Catholic church was for my nephew's christening and I suddenly had the urge to make the sign of the cross (I'd seen it in movies like a kabillion times). I wanted to drop on my knees before the priest with a barrage of "Hail Mary, Full of Grace"s. Taking my seat to witness the pomp and circumstance was, at the least, intimidating as I scanned the cathedral and observed this group of Catholics. Surprisingly, they looked alot like me. I suppose that I'd imagined a church full of twenty-member families with gold crucifixes and rosary beads dangling from their necks, a sprinkle of nuns interspersed to balance the equation and watch out for the interlopers. Nope, these folks seemed, to my relief, pretty normal. They also had pews just like the Baptists, with the exception that their pews had footrests (no fair). I honestly tried to keep up with the readings and responses but, apparently, I found out later that I was doing the sign of the cross from right to left, which is totally backwards from the way the Catholics do it. It just felt comfortable to me, but I imagined the nuns that I couldn't see but know were there watching felt otherwise. I could see myself with a huge red "B" emblazened on my forehead as my footrest became a kneeling post for those in the know. Surely, they were onto me and I wanted to shout, "Hey, I was invited. I'm related to the guest of honor (to my nephew, not Jesus)." Of course, I kept quiet and mouthed "Watermelon" instead of the appropriate Catholic response which the priest evoked from the faithful, a trick I learned in junior high chorus. It was obvious I wasn't one of "them" and I was fully prepared for the priest to walk down the aisle and smack me on the head with a crucifix. I began thinking about all of the sins I'd comitted and knew that my soul was an open book. I even started feeling guilty about bad stuff I had only thought about doing. I began to think that, perhaps, I should become a Catholic myself just in case. And, then I remembered that I was sitting in church on a Saturday night. Thanks, but no thanks.