Saturday, December 18, 2010
twenty-eighth visit: Dec 18th 2010 Roman Catholicism
Church of St. Raphael
1118 Chislett Street, Pittsburgh PA 15206
I have often walked our dog by this church and felt it due time that I pay a visit. I don't know about anyone else, but this week has been a doosey for me. I haven't had this much to do and gone on such little sleep since I was preparing for my thesis as a grad student. But instead of my studio, I have Saturday Anticipated Mass at 5pm as quiet time for my lately unquiet self.
One pink and three purple candles are lit on the advent wreath. (advent = coming) Only one more left—the white one, for Christmas. Saturday evening masses exist for those who can't attend mass the next day (hence the term "Anticipated"), so the pink is lit as if it IS Sunday. I have read that the concept for experiencing this mass as if it is ocuring in tomorrow's time, has roots in Judiasm, where the "day" begins at sundown the previous evening, and runs to the next sundown.
"Do we get refreshments this time, Mom?," the middle child of our family, my younger sister, asked every Sunday morning, when we were young. Three times out of four my parents would laugh and say "Sorry, Katy, no refreshments this Sunday." Our church offered communion once a month. Is it any wonder that Katy ended up converting to Catholicism in her late 20's? She'll say it's because her husband is Catholic. I think it was to get her wish: refreshments every week.
The first few times I attended a Catholic service as a part of gatherings, I was not sure if those who are not Catholic should cross themselves when "Father, Son and Holy Ghost" is spoken. With my Protestant up-bringing, I had been choosing not to, and noticed that at a previous service the Priest had singled me out and caught my eye, for my lack of movement. I decided to give my sister a call.
"No, there's not a reason that you should not cross yourself, if you want to. It's OK to do so if you are not Catholic. But I didn't for a while because I was not used to it. I did not want to do something that I did not feel completely sincere about." I concur exactly and this is actually a gatherings-rule I had established for myself, as well.
Communion enters quickly into the conversation. This is what she says: "Catholics always go up to the front for communion. [So does East Liberty Presbyterian... see my 26th visit] And we all drink from the same cup. You know that white cloth the Priest uses to wipe the cup between worshipers' sips? It's suppose to be anti-bacterial. But you don't have to drink from the one common cup. I don't. [She's not up for giving her immune system a weekly challenge.] There are usually miniature cups of wine at the alter, too, and I just grab one of those."
She goes on: "The reason you can't take Communion in a Catholic church if you are not Catholic is that we believe that the bread and wine really become the body and blood of Christ. Catholics feel that if you don't really believe that, then you should not partake. You know all the chanting and the bell-ringing that happens before the Eucharist is offered? That's when the conversion is happening... the Priest is performing the transformation, changing it."
The reason Catholics would choose not to receive Holy Communion would be if they are in a state of sin. I wonder which assumption is made of me: that I am non-Catholic, or in a sinful state? Because for me, Catholic Holy Communion-time is drawing-time, as long as it does not seem to be distracting worshipers.
And this is something I wish I could express to those who notice that I'm sketching: When I can draw during services, I actually remember my experience at the service more clearly. Despite the fact that I'm sure that the assumption, in this case, is the opposite.
As I am leaving, Father Joe stops me and asks if I'm the one who emailed him. He welcomes me to stay as long as I please, check out the side alters, draw, photograph. I do.
Oh, and adding to the tally:
2 worshipers in Steelers jackets. Running Total for the project: 15 (to date)