O Heathen, My Heathen

So when I started dating my high school boyfriend–now husband–over ten years ago, I was flattered when he invited me to a mass at his Catholic church. As a high school girl I was thinking, he must really like me! And I was right, but for a teenager who had only ever been inside a church while attending funerals, I was lost to what was going on.

As a heathen I’d like to share with you some of my funnier church moments:

 

1. I remember an Easter, several years ago, sitting in the long wooden pews of our circular church, staring at the alter in the middle. A small band of guitars, flutes and a piano filled the room with happy and well played music. The priest was talking about something–I tend to lose focus during sermons–and I was staring at the mass’ agenda in my lap, trying to figure out when it would end.

Suddenly, I was hit with a torrential wave of water. It soaked my papers, got into my hair and all over my clothes. I lurched into an upright position, glaring in the direction of what I expected to be a nine year old kid playing a prank, but was instead, staring at the backside of the old priest who was blessing everyone with holy water from a palm frond.

I slunk back into the pew, hiding my red cheeks behind the agenda, expecting to get smote.

My boyfriend laughed when I told him about it later. I remember how he shook his head and the expression on his face said, “Only you, Val”.

 

2. Having always attended a modern Catholic church, I was quite surprised when we attended a more traditional one and there were these really cool padded footrests beneath the pews. I was like “wow, we should go here more often” and quickly put them to use.

I was very comfortable–daydreaming to myself–when all of a sudden the whole church filled with commotion and my boyfriend pulled down the foot rest and knelt upon it. I glanced around, realizing that the entire assembly were on their knees, heads bowed. I scooched forward, so that the people kneeling behind me had more space. I was embarrassed, again, but at least this time I wasn’t soaking wet.

 

3. So the day finally came when my boyfriend asked me to marry him. I always knew we’d have a Catholic ceremony–because he told me so–and we met with the priest to make arrangements. I remember his jotting down notes, asking us questions, and he finally said, “Where were you baptized?” I shrugged. He said, “You’ll need to provide me with that information for our records.” I said, “Sure thing.”
Out in the car we called my mother, who said that I’d never been baptized. I was slightly surprised, because I thought that’s just what people did–they got their children baptized–but not too worried. My fiance, on the other hand, confided his anxiety over the status of my soul. He said that he couldn’t believe that I still carried the Original Sin.

Now, I’ve never believed in passing blame along, so I don’t really believe in Original Sin, but try telling that to a Believer.

On the other hand, this made my fiance super happy, because now I could be baptized a true Catholic!–after taking the classes and spouting all the beliefs. This I have still yet to do, because I don’t really want to take classes and since I wasn’t struck down at the alter, I think God is probably cool with it.

my daughter's baptism
my daughter’s baptism

But as a practical person, I did baptize my daughter. Better safe than sorry.

4. When I started working on this post almost two weeks ago I could have sworn there was a fourth and very funny incident, but now I just can’t remember it. If I can ever remember what I’ve done I’ll make an amendment to this post.

 

If anyone has experienced similar experiences in church, please comment. It’d be nice to know I’m not alone out there.

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5 thoughts on “O Heathen, My Heathen

  1. I’m this blogger’a little sister, and I had gone to church some with friends , but none were catholic. When Val and her husband were engaged, both families went to church together a few times. I remember sitting in the pew and seeing the, what I thought, foot rests. I made a similar comment and was laughed at by my family. I remember exchanging glances with my sister, realizing she had done the same thing. I didn’t feel completely foolish then =)

  2. I don’t have much experience with Catholic churches and I now attend a non-denominational church. But growing up, we attended Lutheran/Presbyterian churches As an unbeliever, I just remember being bored during the sermon and looking forward to the soup and bread lunches after the service during the Lent season. It is much better to be a believer in church and now the service and different aspects have real meaning for me! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. hey debbie, thanks for commenting! i didn’t know there were non-denominational churches, just shows how little i know on the issue.

      i consider myself agnostic. i tried being atheist, but found there was no more magic in the world. like, if a sunset were just a sunset, instead of some divine creation. i don’t know, i just like the idea of god, but i don’t need to be preached about him every week, and made to feel guilty about being myself.

      thanks for stopping by and i’m glad you found your own way. ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. I liked your explanation of why being an atheist didn’t work for you!. You’re right, we have to find our way: a forced, imposed or obligatory religion is not representative of a genuine relationship with God.

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