Growing up, my parents took me to church all the time. Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, Wednesday nights, the doors were open? The Arceneaux's were there. The churches I remember attending are Brentwood Baptist, Bayleaf Baptist, Westgate Memorial Baptist, etc...notice a trend here? During my 4th through 9th grade years I attended an Episcopalian school, so the liturgies are not unfamiliar. However, when Savannah invited me to Ash Wednesday Mass to kick off the start of Lent, I knew I'd be out of my comfort zone.
First, let me preface by saying I don't intend to offend anyone. These are merely my observations, some perhaps incorrectly based on social cliches.
From the very start Savannah and I joked about the connotations of a baptist in a catholic church. I had partaken in a chicken sandwich only an hour earlier and I confessed my sin to Savannah while she rolled her eyes and said, "yeah you better watch out..they might breathalyze you for meat. good luck getting those ashes."
We had been jamming to the ever popular "I'm sexy and I know it" in the car and as we entered I was still singing under my breath, I suddenly stopped and gasped, "am I even ALLOWED to say sexy in here?" Savannah laughed at my naivete and stopped to do her thing with the holy water. I was aghast, I thought that was just a really pretty fountain. It wasn't. I fumbled with the sign of the cross, finally getting it right as I slid into the pew. One thing about Catholicism--they sure do give you your space. The individual cushions on the pew clearly indicated where the spot for your behind ended and your neighbor's began.
I looked around, very curious, taking note of the cross with Jesus hanging on it (The sculptor had been very generous with Jesus' abs. I was envious of the P90X of Jerusalem) and some simple numbers on the wall. I nudged Savannah, "pssst-hey what are those numbers?" *the are-you-serious look* "Taylor, hymn numbers." Ahhh I had found something I recognized, it was basically the Catholic version of the PowerPoint.
Since I couldn't join Communion because I wasn't a member (I wasn't too broken up about it...I didn't really WANT everyone's germs) I instead reflected on what the priest had said, and my blood began to boil. He stressed over and over again that Lent should be taken seriously. Okay, I can get on board with that. He encouraged us to sacrifice something worthwhile. Okayyy, everyone's idea of worthwhile can be different, but I can agree. And then he said to give up something that saves your soul. Pause. This is where I wanted to jump up and debate, but somehow I didn't see that going over well. Personally, I don't believe that Lent saves your soul at all. Nor does giving up candy mean that you are a bad person. Candy could be to some people what popcorn is to me. I think the purpose of Lent is to struggle with something that you can't do on your own. To prove to yourself that you need God to make it through those 40 days.
I really like it when I disagree with something religiously. It proves to me that I'm not a lost cause because I must care somewhat to want to steer someone in a different direction. Orrrr maybe, I just like to argue. It's possible.
Either way, the fact that I can choose where to go to church and to form blatant opinions about the experience without hindrance makes me A Very Lucky Girl
***seriously, I didn't want to offend anybody. Sincerest apologies if I did!***