Sunday, September 12, 2004

Spiritual stuff

Well, I'm going to services at a Lutheran church tomorrow. I'm really nervous about it. I haven't been to services at a non-Catholic church since 1997. I'm not worried about fitting in, or the worship service itself, but I'm worried that since I'm going by myself, I will immediately stand out as an interloper. I mean, most non-Catholic, non-Baptist churches here are very, very small, considering Catholics and Baptists make up about 80% of the population of South Louisiana. I know nothing about the culture of this church, and I'm afraid I'll stick out.

I also have a sense of unease because I feel like I am betraying my father. He agreed with my mother exposing me to her tradition, but I don't think he ever anticipated that I would ever consider exploring it myself. When I went to services at a Presbyterian church with a friend in Pittsburgh during my last hiatus from the Catholic church, I didn't have that sense of guilt because it was a completely different tradition, and because my issues then were really more issues with God than with the Catholic church per say. I can't really say that now. I'm over any conflict I might have been having with God, and my difficulty lies solely with the Catholic church. I think I'm getting better in that regard, in that I've dealth with the fact that not every parish is like St. Al's CCC, but in the times that I've gone to mass, I haven't been able to feel a connection to what is going on around me. I don't know if it is the music, or the sermons, or the congregation, or my own mental block, but I just can't sit in the pew and pretend everything is hunky dorey when it isn't.

You know what it's like? It's like watching a cooking contest on the Food Network (yeah, that's what I have on now). It's mindless viewing for late at night, and you have no vested interest in what you are seeing. That's the way I've felt at mass lately. And sensing that feeling in myself makes me tense and angry. I don't like worship making me feel tense and angry.

Of course, it shouldn't make me feel guilty either. Maybe I should consider an Episcopal church. No one I know is Episcopalian. No betrayal there. But no connection, either. And I don't know that I could handle some other tradition for a long-term basis. I like the ritual and sacrament present in those traditions that claim apostolic succession. Plus, these churches have a similar interpretation of scripture as the Catholic church (even if they are missing the deuterocanonical books - althought the only one I would miss out of the bunch is Sirach). You don't necessarily find that in other Protestant churches.

What I really need is a spiritual director. But all the certified ones in Baton Rouge have some connection to St. Al's CCC, or come from the very conservative viewpoint (the ones who don't believe that the calendar has moved beyond 1965). I know intellectually that spiritual directors are bound by the same confidentiality as any counselor (or since we are talking about spiritual matters, confessor), but emotionally I don't think I could handle the thought that anything I said could get back to them there, even if it wasn't intentional on the part of the director. Or worse, that the director would somehow try to convince me that what I am feeling isn't valid because St. Al's CCC has this reputation of being the paragon of progressive Catholic churches in this diocese. Yeah, it's paranoia. But with everything that I experienced at St. Al's, I can't help it.

Oh, well. I'll write about my experiences tomorrow. Right now, if I want to get up tomorrow, I need to go to bed.

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