Well, another journey in trying to find my Catholic home has been taken. I went to St. Thomas Aquinas today for the 11a Mass.
The reading today for the Mass was about how Christ is the vine and we are the branches. The priest at STA kept talking about community and unity within the church, and how we are all stronger when we are united in our church.
I was feeling pretty grody because of my allergies, and decided to go to the Cathedral about mid-Mass. My nose was runny and I was achy all over, and in all honesty, I was feeling kind of "homesick", for lack of a better word. I'm pretty sure it was the STA homily that made me think of my "community" back at the Cathedral. So, after the Homily at STA, which was great btw, I left the STA Mass and drove over to the Cathedral and attended the Noon mass there. I actually braved the Cathedral parking garage, and it wasn't nearly as scary as I thought it would be. I ended up sitting with my friend Nancy and my sponsor.
I talked with Nancy after Mass, and she told me that she will most probably switch to attending St. Thomas Aquinas very soon, after she settles a few things in her personal life. She loves the homilies at STA, and she also loves that there are so many programs there for English-Speakers. She had hinted that she might transfer parishes to STA in earlier conversations, but from the the tone of our talk today, it sounds like it is definitely going to happen in the near future.
I've been so torn with going to the Chapel vs the Cathedral vs St. Thomas Aquinas. Each group has its benefits and its drawbacks. All benefits are good for each church. It's so great to be able to walk down the street for church at St. Jude Chapel, but on the other hand, there's not much opportunity for me to be active in the church except for to show up for Mass. I could probably become a lector or something, but other than that I'm out of luck. I'm sure that if I attend St. Thomas Aquinas a few more times that I'll feel more comfortable there and really get into the groove of things. I even have a blog friend who attends there that would like to say Hi to me the next time I go to mass there. It's odd to me that the main motivation for me to go to STA is because, for lack of a better way to put it, it's an "ethnic" parish geared towards English-speakers. I don't think it's wrong for me to want access to multiple programs in my Native language. Why does that feel so un-PC, though? I just seriously dislike that there's not many opportunities to be active at the Cathedral parish since I don't speak Spanish.
I've been praying for discernment as to where I need to go on Sundays. Maybe I should just continue to jump around for a while, get the feel of things and decide what to do from there. Maybe I'm just being unduly influenced by my friend who is feeling the calling to go to another parish. Maybe I'm not giving the new rector of St. Jude Chapel enough credit.
It's a hard thing to decide, and it's really been troubling me. I struggle daily to find my place in the church, in a parish and in the diocese. I really want a church "home" that I can commit to with my time, my donations and my energy.
It just occurred to me - this feels an awful lot like what happened to me when I went back to the Mormon church from about 1997 to 2001. I started out my reactivation in the Fort Worth Singles ward, but felt awkward because I was so much older than most of the people there. After about a year in the singles ward, I transferred to a small inner-city family branch in Fort Worth. After being in that ward for less than a year, I ended up moving to Grand Prairie so that I could look for jobs in both Fort Worth and Dallas due to a buyout of my company and an expected lay-off (which indeed happened a few weeks after the move). Once relocated, I first went to the Grand Prairie family ward, but after three miserable weeks there, I transferred to the Dallas South Singles ward. It was a nice group of people, but the church was 30 minutes away, and I was beginning to lose faith and motivation to go to church at that point anyway.
I don't know quite what I was searching for exactly then, and I'm not sure what I'm searching for now. On the up side, this time instead of having to decide between the better of two evils, I'm trying to decide which is the best of three great choices. It's like someone going up to you and saying, "Ok, here's three ice cream cones - Chocolate, Vanilla, and Strawberry. Which one is best?" But they're all good, you know?
I think the biggest question that I need to answer for myself is which church is going to bring me closest to God, and at which church will I be able to serve the members of the church the best? I have no doubt the desire to serve is from my previous "callings" as a Mormon. But I also want to meet people, to get involved. It's important for me to feel like a contributing part to a community.
I have no idea which church would bring me closer to God, or if any of my three choices have a clear advantage over another. I think my journey to God at this point is mostly between me and God. I think at this point that as long as I am going to church on a regular basis, if I can simply go with a contrite heart and spirit, that any church experience will do the trick. I just wish I could find a home and commit to it, and be satisfied with my decision.