Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Catholic Wedding

I guess our recent decision to join an Episcopal Church has me inspired to talk about religion more than usual. Hey, let's talk about the Catholics some more!

On Saturday, Josh and Shannon Brien - whom we met through kickball - got married. The venue: a fancy Catholic church - a cathedral, even - in downtown Raleigh.

I kind of wish I had gotten a picture of the fancy bishop's chair, which only the bishop is allowed to sit in. Oh, those silly Catholics. Going to a Catholic church is kind of like going back in time, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I wonder how often that chair gets cleaned.

A Catholic wedding is more or less a full Catholic mass in which two people happen to get married. As a result, Catholic weddings are among the longest. This one clocked in at 59 minutes, 1 second (yes, I time these things), which for a Catholic mass, that's more than reasonable. However, as I understand it, attending Saturday's wedding - which started at 2 PM - would not satisfy one's "Catholic mass for the weekend" obligation according to Catholic rules and regulations. I think.

Let's say you're at a Catholic wedding. Do you take communion, or do you not? Well, if you're a practicing Catholic, you obviously do. If you are Protestant and have always been Protestant, you do not take communion. While many Protestant faiths say that all baptized Christians are welcome to receive communion, the Catholics say that only "prepared" Catholics are eligible to receive Catholic communion. (This is, if nothing else, an effective way to single out all of the non-Catholics at a Catholic wedding.) But what about me? I was raised Catholic and went through all of the rituals as a child, up through and including Confirmation. But now that I've joined an Episcopal Church, am I still eligible to receive communion? Probably not. Besides, given that I kind of went poo-poo all over many of the Catholic church's beliefs in last week's post, and because I am kind of trying to distance myself from the Catholic church, it didn't seem right to receive communion. It would almost be like telling the Catholic church, "Please take me back! I made a mistake!" Nope. I stayed seated.

One thing I've struggled with in my early days as an Episcopalian of sorts is "the words". I pretty much have the standard Catholic mass memorized. But Episcopalians often change up the words a little bit in their rituals. They're similar, but they're different. And when you've attended between 500 and 1,000 Catholic masses over the years, it's hard to make that switch. It would almost be easier to start from scratch. Here's one example of a subtle difference in "the words" I like: the Catholic Nicene Creed I grew up with and am familiar with contains the line "For us men, and for our salvation, He came down from heaven..." The Episcopalian version drops the word "men". (I don't think I need to explain that one.) It could take years for me to re-train my brain accordingly. (Here's another subtle Nicene Creed difference. Catholic: "He suffered, died, and was buried." Episcopalian: "He suffered death, and was buried." That one, I cannot explain. Sometimes I think Protestants change the words for no other reason than to be different from the Catholics.)

As for this weekend, attending a Catholic wedding probably set me back another month or two with respect to "the words". But that's okay. It was worth it.


amber said...

For me, the trouble has been wanting to use phrases from the Apostle's creed, which was used most of the time in the Lutheran services I grew up with. Nicene creed was only for special occasions, and I think I only had it completely memorized for a day (to meet catechism requirements for confirmation).

Jeff said...

There will be some changes to the Catholic Mass beginning in November (1st Sunday of Advent): I'm expecting lots of mistakes - especially on Christmas!