Thursday, March 15, 2012
Over the last weekend, a friend came over for beer and conversation. He is my husband’s closest friend whom I also enjoy having around. We chatted about life in general for awhile. The taboo topic of the Bible started being discussed with the conversation going on for hours. Our friend grew up a pretty strict Catholic, but in his adult years, he hasn’t gone to church of any sort though he reads his Bible probably more consistently than I do.
During the discussion, we talked about creation, reconciliation, Eucharist, and church attendance. My emotions were all over the charts. They were the lowest when we talked about church attendance. This topic strikes such a chord in me. I have mentioned it before, but from the time I was in about first grade, I went to church all by myself with the church school bus bringing me too and from Sunday School and Church. The bus ride, Sunday School, and when they had Children’s Church were the best. I loved going to learn more about Jesus; plus, I felt His presence especially strong at the church. Going to regular church hurt. I watched my friends join their mom’s or their mom and dad. They went to church as family. My heart broke.
My mom refused to go to church without my dad and my dad said he wouldn’t go to church and sit by all those hypocrites. My friend said he wouldn’t go to church and sit by all the gossips. During this part of the conversation, I became very quiet letting him and my husband continue the discussion. I feel so defeated. They are most definitely right about the gossips and hypocrites. I am one of them. All my friends are also a part of this group. We are all this way. We are imperfect and sinful. I work really hard at not gossiping. Now that I can regulate who I am around, I don’t get as sucked into it as I did in the working world. Water cooler gossip is virtually impossible for me. I have to pray about this sin a LOT! Yet, I can’t skip Mass because I am unworthy. This is the very reason I need to go more.
I believe I have used every argument I have ever heard on my dad to get him to attend church. He went a handful of times when I was in high school. About six years ago, he attended a weekend retreat with the Catholic Church. I hoped. I prayed. I do know he communes with God in his own way specifically when out and about in his garden, on the lake, or in the woods. My friend communes with God when he reads his Bible. But, what about community? To me this is very important.
I sit by hypocrites every Sunday at Mass and they sit by me, a fellow hypocrite. Together we lift our voices in praise to God through songs, greetings, and prayer. We cheer each other through another week of living in a sin-filled world. We cry together in our struggles of suffering. Without my church family, my husband’s deployment would have been one hundred times harder. I wouldn’t have been prayed for as much through my illness. I need these imperfect people in my life to help me in my own imperfection.
The real stickler for me comes in the form of communion. Jesus said to the disciples to take this bread and take this cup in memory of me (Jesus). In the scene of the last supper, Jesus finished setting up community. My heart aches for those who don’t know the joy of Eucharist (communion). No, I don’t know where in the Bible it says that we “HAVE” to attend church. To tell the truth, I hope it isn’t a deal breaker of getting into heaven because I want my dad, friend, and others I love to enter heaven. Deep in my heart though, I know it is a deal breaker for me. I will not get to heaven unless I attend church. Besides, why wouldn’t I go? I feel God’s presence when I attend.
Blessing to you all.