Saturday, July 22

Hot in herre

Hello all! So answer your questions yes, I am still Catholic. :) I've been attending the Tridentine Mass for about a month now. I'm still leaning towards going there. The only problem that I have with the experience is that it's in a beautiful but tiny little chapel. I usually get there before 9a for the 9:30a service. The rosary starts at 9a, and every pew is full by the second decade every week. Then people start squeezing in, and then men start giving up their seats to women, so the chapel is lined with men. It's crazy how packed that little chapel gets.

It seems like each pew has already been "claimed" by a family who sits there every week. And there's maybe 24 pews total that seat 4 adults each. The first few Sundays I ended up sitting on the same pew as a family of 5 (one baby), which was pretty tight but not too bad. Last week I ventured out a bit and moved over to another aisle, only to be told that the choir sits there. I thought I had sat up enough not to be in the choir seats, but I was mistaken. I don't know where I can claim "my" seat in that chapel.

And apparently it's hard to keep the place cool when it's packed to the gills with people. Last Sunday it was over 90 degrees outside when church started. As soon as I walked into the church, I felt the heavy, hot air surround me. And it got progressively worse as the place started to fill up. Men in formal shirts had huge sweat stains, and babies were pink from the heat, their little hair matted up from the sweat. It was very old school.

It's uncomfortable enough being crowded in a cool building, but to be packed in like sardines in a hot chapel was almost more than I could bear. I offered it up the best I could.

Now, I'll endure sweltering heat and awkward seating situations to be able to worship in such a sacred and spiritual environment. But I don't want to feel self-conscious while I'm there because I'm afraid I'm sitting in someone else's seat or that I'm crowding a family who has always sat in the same pew.

Monday, July 10

Embracing weaknesses

Reading II for Sunday, July 9, 2006
2 Cor 12:7-10

Brothers and sisters:
That I, Paul, might not become too elated,
because of the abundance of the revelations,
a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan,
to beat me, to keep me from being too elated.
Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me,
but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you,
for power is made perfect in weakness.”
I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses,
in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.
Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults,
hardships, persecutions, and constraints,
for the sake of Christ;
for when I am weak, then I am strong.

I’ve been going to the Tridentine Mass in Dallas for the past few weeks ago, and enjoy it immensely. But I needed to go to confession before Sunday mass, so I went to my little chapel down the road, St. Jude, and attended Vigil Mass on Saturday night. I’m thankful I did because I got a lot out of one of the scripture readings for the mass.

The message in the Sunday reading really hit home for me. I so often feel weak. I felt like I was very strong when I got baptized, like I was where I needed to be spiritually. But lately I’ve felt off. I’ve been dwelling on what I will simply state as my “weakness” more than I feel is appropriate.

I want to be content with my weaknesses. I want to be accepting of the parts of me that I know will never change. There are parts of me, behavior patterns, ways of interacting with people that have been there since I was old enough to remember them and will be there until I die most probably. These traits can often be frustrating, and I, like so many people before me, just simply want to be “normal”.

But I will do my best to embrace my weaknesses. I’ve been trying to pray about these weaknesses lately, and to offer them up to Christ in union with his suffering, but the context of my weaknesses seems so far removed from anything spiritual. It’s hard putting certain traits of mine into a spiritual context. It’s like trying to put my dislike for raw tomatoes in a spiritual context. Does my like or dislike of raw tomatoes make me any less or more of a spiritual person? It’s a trait I’ve had since I was a child – I do not like raw tomatoes. I don’t see it changing. But it’s a small yet significant part of who I am. I hope this is making some kind of sense.

I don’t want my weaknesses to affect my relationship with God, or with my husband, or with my friends. I don’t want my work to get neglected, or my home. I’m struggling with the balance between embracing my weaknesses and trying to overcome my weaknesses at the same time. It’s a hard struggle. Thank goodness, when I’m in church, I feel stronger. I feel the importance of those weaknesses in my life melting away. In church, I feel whole, and “normal”. When I leave, it’s like I’m battling those demons yet again. I feel solace in prayer.

Friday, July 7

Adding Gravitas to the Nicene Creed

So how the heck is everybody??? And what the heck have I been up to? Well, to be perfectly honest, I've been watching way, way, way too much of this guy, Stephen Colbert of "The Colbert Report". In keeping with the topic of the blog, I've posted a clip of when Colbert recites the Nicene Creed in its entirety on his show, adding a healthy dose of gravitas on the way.

Colbert is the youngest of 11 children, and was raised in an Irish Roman Catholic family. He has said in an interview that:
I love my Church, and I'm a Catholic who was raised by intellectuals, who were very devout. I was raised to believe that you could question the Church and still be a Catholic. What is worthy of satire is the misuse of religion for destructive or political gains. That's totally different from the Word, the blood, the body and the Christ. His kingdom is not of this earth.

He also said in an interview with Terry Gross of NPR's "Fresh Air":
We're, you know, very devout and, you know, I still go to church and, you know, my children are being raised in the Catholic Church. And I was actually my daughters' catechist last year for First Communion, which was a great opportunity to speak very simply and plainly about your faith without anybody saying, `Yeah, but do you believe that stuff?' which happens a lot in what I do.

One more interesting quote in an interview in the New York Times says:
I have a wife who loves me, and I am oddly normative. I go to church. I would say that there would be plenty of Catholics in the world who would think of me as not that observant, but for the world I move in professionally, I seem monastic.

Becoming Catholic has been an interesting journey for me, and I have found that trying to find where I belong in past parts of my life has been much more difficult than I thought it would be. Comedy has been a part of my life since I was a small child. I remember listening to my comedy vinyl albums over and over. Artists like Stephen Wright, Emo Phillips, Bill Cosby, and "Weird Al" Yankovic became part of my daily inner monologue. I loved comedy, I loved listening to comedy and reading about comedy. I was an SNL junkie, and loved stand up on the new cable stations that began streaming into my home as a teenager.

As I got older, I began to learn about things such as improv comedy, late night television show comedy, and sketch comedy shows. Comedy Central became my favorite network as I absorbed more and more about comedy. I began learning about the Second City family of players, and how the different players would go on to do so many things in the comedy spectrum. I would watch and learn about new sketch comedy shows the way others would learn about their favorite sports team. While some people could tell you about the new rookie on the basketball team and tell about their high school and college ball career, I could take a writer from SNL and tell you their career history as well, from stand-up or Second City, or possibly the Groundlings in LA or the Hasty Pudding at Harvard, to smaller cable shows to becoming head writer on a popular show. I knew all the big players, and where they had come from and what they were doing now.

But being Catholic, I found my sensibilities changing. What's safe to laugh at? How do I take this passion and incorporate it into my new wineskin? It was a struggle, and I found myself missing that part of my life.

Enter Stephen Colbert. He's successful, he's had a long career in comedy, AND .... he's a professed Catholic. While he would most definitely be considered more "progressive" than most of the Catholics I associate with, on the other hand, he also truly believes in the Church and treasures it in his life. He makes constant references to the Catholic religion on his show, but never in a mean spirited way.

So I've found a new comedian to learn about. And that makes me happy. So I watch him.