Oh, how I loved church (still do)! One of my first disappointments was in discovering that girls couldn’t become priests. The sights and scents and sounds have combined to create a strong sense memory that I can access any time, any place – unlike my memory of where I’ve left my cell phone…which is still lost. Thank you for visiting and comments and constructive criticism are always welcome!
Through the door into the church, dim after the sunshine outside.
Two steps in, dip my middle finger into the cool water held in a small metal bowl hung on the wall at shoulder height to me, waist high to my parents.
Dab the water on my forehead, “In the name of the Father. . .” above what will someday be my breasts, “. . . the Son. . .” at my left shoulder, then my right, “. . . and the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
Breathe deep the scent of old incense and candle wax, imprinted indelibly on the wood and my mind.
Walk forward; trying to get as close to the front as I can before Dad’s hand drops on my shoulder. Genuflect, and then slide into the pew to wait and fidget.
Mass – flowing and weaving through ancient tradition and modern practice. Scripture – voices from the past that speak to my heart and soul, even as a child. The comfort and ease of the ritual – standing, sitting, and kneeling in choreographed worship – brings the focus I so rarely have.
The homily begins, focus falters. Father Brady’s Irish brogue whispers over my head, as I read ahead to next week’s scripture…and the next…and the next.
“I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth…” the words flow, spoken music, telling the story of my faith.
Then the heart: the chalice and the plate and two glass containers – one water, one wine.
“The Lord be with you.” One voice, strong and sure.
“And also with you.” Many voices, in verbal and spiritual unison.
“Lift up your hearts.”
“We lift them up to the Lord.”
“Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.”
“It is right to give Him thanks and praise.”
Each prayer, each response moving us closer to the moment and carrying me with it.
“Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world: have mercy on us. Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world: have mercy on us. Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world: grant us peace.”
A pause, waiting for the next step.
“This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Happy are those who are called to his supper.
“Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.”
Kneeling, simulating meditation as I listen to the thump of padded kneelers being flipped up out of the way as the pews empty to join the line to receive the Eucharist.
The dry wafer on my tongue, stuck to the roof of my mouth as I kneel.
Child, teenager, wife, mother.
Through the doubts and questions and searching, the words and the ritual never fail. Catholic or Methodist, contemporary or traditional. The heart remains and the soul remembers. Forever and ever, Amen.