I was torn between posting this here or under non-Catholic religions, but here goes:
I recently had the good fortune to be visiting my cousins while in their town on business. I was excited to attend their church with them, as her husband is the music minister and very talented. I was aware somewhat of what to expect, having attended a Baptist church with my sister years ago. This church however, does not list a ‘religion’, but I, in my limited knowledge, would list it as Charismatic, Pentecostal or Baptist-based. I hadn’t seen them in 7 years, and had never been to their church before.
It was such a moving experience. The music was inspiring and moving. Although there wasn’t much preaching apart from during the singing, the preachers did invoke some scriptures, and they weren’t apart from Catholic teaching on these scriptures. I will admit the altar calls were different, and I was moved by the number of people coming forward. I prayed that they truly were giving their lives to Christ, even if not in the Catholic Church. Every journey begins with a single step. I did feel that there was a little ‘dramatization’ of a few things, but it could be that it wasn’t my cup of tea at those points. Oh the joy on the faces of my cousin in the choir, her husband as a music minister, her young adult children next to me… I admit, sometimes at Mass I lose focus and become disengaged. I did that a few times at this service, but it didn’t last long. I don’t know how anyone could have sat there and not been moved, but believe it or not, a man in front of me stood like a statue. Others slept, or were bored.
How did this move me closer to Christ as a Catholic? Through God. I had attended the Sacrament of Reconciliation previously in the week, and one of the things the priest asked me was ‘Who do you want to be a slave to?’ I answered quickly, JESUS! He was telling me to break those chains to sin. Godincidentally (not coincidentally), one of the songs and themes at this Worship service was breaking free of sin, breaking these chains. I heard this at my confession in one city, at Mass in another city, and at this Protestant service in yet another city in just a few days (long week!).
As I sat there (or stood, or even somewhat knelt), I truly appreciated all the Graces and Gifts that we Catholics have been given, especially in the Sacraments. At the same time I was feeling the Joy of the Spirit, I could feel Him calling me to remember how much we are given as Catholics. How blessed we truly are… One of the songs (no idea what it was…) called out to me as well, and instead of singing one of the words, the word Eucharist came out of me…such a great reminder that we have the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of our Lord, as Catholics. I was moved often to prayers, especially the Hail Mary and the Sign of the Cross.
The service was 2 hours (!!!) but time went by quickly. I did enjoy the message and most of the service. I could see how this truly could complement our Mass, either before or after, because the sacrifice of Mass, the Body and Blood of Christ, is the EPITOME of our ‘service’, our Mass. To me, that it is the true reward of Mass, but it’s enlightened because of the other parts of Mass. Without the Liturgy of the Word, for me, the Liturgy of the Eucharist isn’t as rich. We are blessed to have it all. I can see where the excitement of this type of service combined with the more solemn (even with all our singing and praise) Mass could really feed people even more. Do I feel called to attend other churches for their services? No, not really. I’m 100% completely fulfilled by our Mass.
On the flip side, I attended Mass the evening before (no way was I missing Mass to attend a non-Catholic service); the parish was an older one, in a poor part of town. The singing struggled, and didn’t work to inspire as well. But did that take anything away from Mass? Not for me…I love to sing and praise, but there are times for each. Would I have felt empty if I hadn’t been to Mass? Definitely! Would I have felt empty if I hadn’t been to the non-Catholic service? No.
Thank you Father for being with me and showing me that the way you want me to continue to follow is through our Church, our Catholic Faith. I pray that someday all of these fellow worshipers are able to experience the fullness of the Church and the Truth.
Yes He is! Yes He is! Break these chains…