Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Thorny Crown Around A Flaming Heart

Except for a few years when I lived in different cities I've gone to the same church for most of my adult life. It's an old church, built in the late 1800's and remodeled around 1930, with most of the architecture from that time still remaining. Looking at some of the images I can see why some outsiders might consider Catholics to be different in a cultish kind of way from other religions. Even churchgoers, younger ones especially, who have never gone through the teachings of the Catechism don't know the meanings of many of the symbols associated with Christ and the Virgin Mary. Our church is called Immaculate Conception now, having changed its name from St. Mary's quite a few years ago. Most of the oldtimers still call it St. Mary's, and many of the statues and pictures have to do with Mary. My dad was a very staunch, old-school Catholic so we kids grew up having knowledge of some of the mysteries which are part of the our faith. The church though, in my opinion, has been slow to modernize its way of doing some things and in the last few years has tried to catch up all at once with the rest of the world, resulting in some of the teachings of bygone days to be overlooked, and the mysteries and passionate fervor in which the images around the church were created are lost on younger parishioners whose eyes see only gruesome images of pain and torture in their house of worship.

Not every Sunday feels like a holy day to me, but some days when I go to church I feel a special connection and on those days I have a very deep passion for my religion and its meaning, and the church feels like a place where the Lord embraces me and lets me humble myself before Him. Its then that I can look around at my surroundings and appreciate the flaming heart, or the images at each station of the cross. I don't know how many others share my experience when they attend mass - I might guess that half are there because they have to be, out of habit or for appearance sake - but the meaning of the Catholic religion seems to be changing and I think soon the images associated with the church will change too. Change comes out of need, and it's not always a bad thing, so maybe fresh teachings will spark new interest, but for me I'll always have a deep rooted sense of awe and mystery about the church and the mass.


Blogger Michelle's Spell said...

Hi Tim,

Loved this post! As a convert, I feel the exact same way. I became a Catholic become of the mystery and beauty. I have enjoyed and support many churches, but the Catholic way will always have my heart. No religion so beautiful or powerful.

10:53 PM  

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