I could identify. I was born a Catholic but am now a Christian. But as a child, there was so much to be astounded at in church. in those days old women still wore lace veils and I found them to be beautiful and couldn't wait to wear one. The rosaries came in lovely glass beads of different colors and seemed like necklaces. The statues, the angels with the holy water, and the lovely cool dip of the water on my face and lips whenever I first entered feeling like I was touching something magical.
Some things I could never quite take to, however. Like statues in boxes where the boxes were sometimes taken down the road for processions. Never really was my style. And i didn't like suffering statues, except sometimes when I felt I should somehow have a vicarious sentiment or two. But the lady in blue, oh she could be depicted in lovely ways. And I liked the candles you lit for people, though I never really felt anything much deep inside.
Now the high arched ceilings, that i really liked. personal taste, i suppose and it just roused my imagination to see steeples. but other than all these, the church was a place to spend one very boring hour, feeling quite sleepy and hungry because especially if you planned to take communion you weren't supposed to eat more than one hour before. The confessionals were nice, cozy and suitably fitting for one. But talking to the priest was not always great. I often wished I could be the priest and hear everyone's secrets instead.
When we went to Rome, Mom made sure we visited all the most important churches there. I particularly remember two things: St. Peter's Basilica, because I liked the pond outside where you tossed coins and fed the pigeons in the plaza. And the feet of Christ, imprinted on a cobbled floor outside and also inside a church. I actually thought they were really the feet. My brother said the feet were flat footed. which would be okay, as I am too.
But the ritual, though it had a calming effect, never really touched my heart. In due time I realized that what really mattered was having a personal relatioship with Christ, and with having an awareness of his presence in all details, both large and small, of our lives. Christ was not limited to a church, a church was a building. Christ is everywhere we are. So my most engaging prayer times have been outdoors, in a garden like this, beside the church in our village.
But one good thing about the Catholic churches is that they preserved the works of some of the greatest artists of our time. Da Vinci, Botticeli, El Greco, Raphael, Rubens, et al. These were starving artists, but the church kept their work going because the church had the money to pay them. And they were also a way of drawing the people into the church. You had to have a showcase to make people want to come in and pray. and so these wonderful artworks of history are preserved and the artists had an outlet, thanks to the Catholic Church.
Our churches don't have statuary, but we do have screens, and we have multi media effects, songs, bands, and all sorts of modern things. I guess, the modern equivalent of the artists of the days of old. I can sit in service for two hours and I will not be bored. Never bored.
Yesterday I went to Rockwell, and found something interesting, a Catholic chapel in a mall. Well, that struck me -- Christian churches were usually the ones renting space in a mall, or renting restaurants on Sundays to hold service. But here was a real Catholic chapel.
And as I went in, I saw something else quite interesting -- a monitor, so that those who could not see the priest close up could view him from the monitor.
There was a time that Catholic services were quite solemn, you weren't supposed to sing and it had to be in Latin. Now services are in English or any language, and there are lots of modern gospel songs being sung. And these days, it seems, they have entered the malls and are exhibiting the beginnings of going multi media.Good for them. I notice too that more emphasis is being placed on the personal relationship that is necessary in a renewed Christian's life. And it seems they are beginning to go through the Bible more. Which is very good. My daughter is studying at a Catholic school with a Catholic Bible class, and she is surprised at how unfamiliar her classmates are with the Bible. She had been learning it since grade school.
What's important is that God really relates to us in so many different ways. There are Catholics who have become protestants, there are protestants who have become Catholics. I just hope that in whatever way you choose to worship, what is essential -- the personal relationship -- has become a strong bond that is never broken by anyone or anything.