Moving right along…

January 8, 2009 at 5:35 pm (Uncategorized)

I never update this thing. I never update anything. I am the queen of the unfinished project.

Annulment news: One of my witnesses dropped off the face of the earth. I have a replacement but sadly, the diocese dropped this on Fr. O’Connor at the beginning of Advent. I have spent enough years as a parish secretary to know that not much gets done during Advent or anywhere approaching Holy Week. I shouldn’t be impatient because there is no way to get it all done before the Easter Vigil this year anyway, so it will be next year regardless. But I *am* impatient because I don’t like standing still. And now Fr. O has the nerve to be out of town? How dare he?

Family news: Still in the Catho Closet. My friend Barbara says that I should save this one for when I really don’t want them to talk to me for a long time.

RCIA news: still rolling along. There was a reception in our normal classroom so we had to have our most recent class in the elementary school library. In those little chairs around those little tables.

Church news: Fr. Biven is now needing help with Mass. Decon Tew is reading the Gospel for him and Msgr. Jennings is helping with Communion. I’m a little sad but at the same time, I’m glad he has some help. It was getting painful to watch. I do love that man.

General news: Broke my ankle the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Spent 4 weeks in a cast and am now halfway through my boot incarceration. It still hurts.

From around the web: I continue to gain comfort and inspiration from Fr. Philip’s homilies, especially this one (as my battles with blogger links continue…)
Particularly as I deal with my messy family and my messy husband and any other messes that come along.

And of course, sad sad news of Fr. Neuhaus’ passing. Nothing to say that has not been said by more eloquent people than myself, but this man was instrumental in my decision to convert. I will miss him.


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Good Annulment Points

October 13, 2008 at 3:29 pm (Uncategorized) ()

For those who point to annulments as a sign that we are degenerate, I give you these excellent points. Stolen shamelessly from the kind and perceptive (meaning, he usually agrees with me) Neil atCatholic Sensibility.

This being what I have been saying all along, and thank God for giving me a parish priest who listens. I’m not here because of my present disregard for the sacrament of marriage. I’m here because I do respect it, too much to take communion if I am outside the church’s definition of this. I do heartily repent of my sins against it in the past. And I am ever thankful that there is a way, drowned perhaps in paperwork and bad parking, for me to see my way clear.

Thanks to the posters of these sentiments, to Neil for finding them, my priest, and all those who keep me in their prayers.

In other news, Fr. Philip is back. Yay!

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In other news…

October 9, 2008 at 6:37 pm (Uncategorized) ()

Fr. Philip needs to get back from Greece and post some more homilies before I stalk him like a Roman beggar.

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I showed up on your doorstep, now I’m yours

October 9, 2008 at 4:09 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

Or, what brought me to the Stargate Church.

I am not really sure why I never tried this church first. It’s nestled between several neighborhoods, none of them particularly high-income. People live there from all races and countries. It’s a funky round building that I think is supposed to look like a crown, but truly resembles that big UFO at the end of Close Encounters. The inside looks like the Stargate control room. The other parishes I had visited were all very nice, though some were upscale enough to make me a little uncomfortable. But this one was just poor and mismatched enough to let me slip in unnoticed.

I had by this time been on the internet quite some time, investigating my options. And a lot of people writing on the subject from first hand experience were pretty bitter. I’m not bitter, I know where I screwed up. I want help correcting it but I don’t expect a magic wand. But. I’m not an easy case. Two annulments and a protestant marriage? Heavens to murgatoid. I suspected any priest with enough sense to get out of seminary would point me in the direction of the nearest Lutheran church and thank his lucky stars for my exit.

I was quite fortunate, then, to find a priest that didn’t have any good sense.

He was, however, perceptive enough to see that I was stressing over the whole thing. Information overload!

Fr. O’Connor asked me in his kindly brogue, what do you want? And how much of it do you want to worry about TODAY?

I said, I want to be Catholic. I want a church home. I want to know what to tell them if I’m rushed to the hospital and they ask what is my religion, because “Lapsed Methodist” doesn’t fit on the bracelet. I want to stop being the lone Protestant poser in the back pew.

He said first, turn off the computer. The internet is a great source of information but the wisdom of God does not reside in a box on your desk.

Second, Catholic is a process. You never stop becoming Catholic. It’s a lifelong journey.

Third, I’ll put you on the parish books today if you want. Tell them you’re Catholic at the hospital and give this church as your home church. They will call the church office. We will know what to do.

Four, sit closer.

It took me a moment to realize that he was saying, yes. You can do this. We will take on your sadly complicated case because Jesus would. And Jesus did. He did caution me that Communion would be put off indefinitely until things were “regularized,” but that in the meantime, make myself at home.

Haaaaaaaaaaahahahaha. Now you have to feed and walk me too.

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A Booger of a Homily

October 8, 2008 at 2:31 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

I have no idea what was up at mass. Apparently, every Catholic parent in the Archdiocese of Mobile Alabama had picked that day to swing through the McDonalds Drive thru and feed their children cappuccinos with double espresso shots, corn syrup on the side. They were insane.

The liturgy of the word went as well as could be expected, considering that small aliens (also known as toddlers) were running up and down the aisles like a relay. Poor Fr. B lost his place a dozen times. Ok, that’s not all that unusual. I have no idea how old he is, and I do love him dearly, bless his heart, but he can get a little turned around.

It was also Pet Blessing Day. We had considered taking our cat, Pita, but figured our liability insurance wouldn’t cover all the injuries. The noise from the parking lot, when it could be heard over the wailing of small children, must have been something like what Noah endured on the ark.

And dear Sister Peggy, bless HER heart, does like ever so much for things to go according to plan. The woman has never had a hair out of place or a smudge on her glasses.

And the wails of the children grew louder. Fr. B got more confused. The animals were milling about outside two by two. Every time a child screamed, Sister Peggy’s spine just got straighter. By the beginning of the Eucharist, you could have used her for a level.

The two children in front of me were, by this time, engaged in a full on fist fight in the pew. Now, I won’t go into what my mother would have done had *I* behaved like that in church. Or anywhere. But yes, mayhem. The oldest had her hands on the younger sister’s face, the reaction being not unexpected–screaming. Ninth circle of hell screaming. Fr. B bravely went on with the Blessing of the Gifts.

Their father tried to separate them, only to have the oldest scream “BUT DADDY, SHE HAS A BOOGER!” It echoed off the rafters. The dogs outside stopped barking. Fr. B looked shocked.

I did not look at Sr. Peggy. I DARE not.

Mass was ended. Go in peace. If at all possible, that is.

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Mass Misadvanture

October 7, 2008 at 7:44 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

The first time would not go smoothly. I should have known.

I had planned on bailing because the weather sucked and I had never been to St. Thomas, well actually had never been to the Great City of Chickasaw, in my life and didn’t care to find it after dark on rainy streets.  So, I popped a couple benadryl for my poor sinuses and crashed, with the deal that if I woke by 5, I’d take it as a sign that I should go to mass at 5:30.

And woke up at 4:19.  And 4:24.  And 4:38.  And 4:47.  At which point my cat is even looking at me like “You’re an idiot.  Go to church.”

So.  I leave home at five.  St. Thomas the Apostle is nine miles away.  Mass is at 5:30.  I have to admit, I do love this Catholic tradition of “getting it over with on Saturday.”  But I’m thinking, even in the dark, I can travel nine miles in thirty mintues!  Well yes I can, but not if 25 of those is spent looking for “1st Street.”

Here’s a clue, mapquest geeks.  1st street does not run through to West Lee, or if it does, is camouflaged very impressively.  Finally after stopping in the parking lot of Holy Name of Jesus Faith Deliverance Temple or something like that, to get my (largely nonexistent) bearings.  When it finally occurred to me that 2nd and 3rd street PROBABLY ran parallel to 1st from West Lee to North Craft Highway.

Look, there is a reason my husband doesn’t usually let me drive.  Not even the short bus.

So I pull into the parking lot at 5:28 and, in my attempt to not be obviously 1) late and 2) Protestant, I hurriedly slipped into a back pew.  A little too hurriedly, as I totally bypassed the Seasonal Missal which, as it turns out, would have been darned helpful.  As it was, I spent half the mass muttering “watermelon” like we used to during crowd scenes in drama class.  And we’ll leave out the “running into the little old lady who had paused to bow or genuflect or make the sign of the cross or something” in front of me.  Oops.

By the end of the service, though, I could at least make the sign of the cross without doing it backwards.  I’m calling that progress.

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Aunt Martha is Spinning in Her Grave

October 7, 2008 at 7:15 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

My earliest memories of Catholicism were of my Aunt Martha. A cold, distant woman, she nevertheless felt it necessary to drag my seven year old butt to mass with her when she visited. She took me to St. Louis Cathedral and told me about her kissing the Pope’s ring. She lit candles and talked to me about Mary and the Saints. How they were always with me, watching me.

Way to freak a kid out! Thanks!

And I wondered why all those ashtrays by the doors were full of water. I thought it was because they didn’t want the church to catch on fire.

My Evangelical Baptist mother, naturally, never knew. As I got older, it was acceptable to attend Christmas Eve mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. It was, after all, a historic building and part of Mobile’s rich architectural history. At the age of fifteen, I asked if I could convert. My mother’s response was that I would be disowned.

But a seed, once planted, grows. Even if it’s in a closet with a grow and show light.

Oh wait. That’s marijuana. Never mind, I guess it still holds true.

Years, a few too many of them, slipped by. I found myself in an otherwise rewarding second marriage (leading to the necessity of the first being annulled, which is about as much fun as an IRS audit and takes a little longer) but my husband was in poor health, my family was being a pack of passive aggressive…relatives. My job was a steady source of income and insurance benefits but rife with pure idiocy that only government bureaucracy can manufacture. I remembered hearing that the Visitation Monastery had retreats and so checked it out online.

The one that most interested me was one for Catholic women. I felt the now-familiar wistfulness. I wish I were Catholic.

Which is when God slapped me in the side of the head with all the tenderness of an impatient father and said “You’re 40 years old. You can do what you want.”

Easier said than done. But I was on my way. I sat on my little secret hope for a bit, until one night at the local pub. My husband had gone home to prepare dinner (part of that “otherwise rewarding” bit of the relationship) and called me. I must come home. An emergency.

Bolting home, expecting to find a dead cat or police on the doorstep, I discovered he had cut himself rather badly. Being on blood thinners, this was cause for a little alarm. So, hand over the sink pouring on the antibacterial soap and applying pressure and seeing if he needed stitches and and and…

It really seemed as good a time as any.

After all, we are born of water and blood.

“Honey, what do you think of me becoming Catholic?”

After ascertaining that I was not drunk nor an impostor, we chatted about it a bit and I finished fixing supper. The next day, I emailed a convert friend to ask how I went about it. She gave me the number of her priest who, while helpful and of the proper SEC football team persuasion, was quite a distance away. He urged me to investigate all churches within a reasonable driving distance and so I did. Eventually landing at St. Pius X, which was my parish, geographically speaking. And began the drudgery of not one but two annulments, mine and my husband’s, so that we could have our marriage convalidated.

I swear, that particular journey seems now like it will never end. Only an institution that has been pushing paper for two millennia could envision a bureaucracy like this. It makes my job look like a pack of rank amateurs.

In spite of this, however, I was more interested in joining a church that had standards and expected me to abide by them if I wished entrance. When first faced with the obstacles, I nearly bailed on the whole plan. And was met with an instant tidal wave of shame. It wasn’t ABOUT ME ANYMORE. It was about Christ’s church and where I could find a place there.

After all, when you ask to move back in with your folks as an adult, you don’t demand they remodel the place to suit your fancy.

And so I sit, possibly the longest standing Protestant member of that parish, eyed as an oddity by clergy and laypeople alike. But for the first time, the fact that it isn’t about me is giving me patience rather than annoyance. Well, except for finding a parking place anywhere near the Diocesan Tribunal. But that’s another story.

I’m here.

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