Several months ago The Pastor and I decided that we would spend the summer bringing our children to different churches. No, we are not changing churches. We just wanted our children to experience the many different ways people worship. This week we decided to try something very different from our non denominational church home. This week we were Catholic.
Now, there are probably a dozen small Catholic churches near our small town, but I’m not exactly the type of person to do things small. If we were going to go to a Catholic church, we were going to go to a big Catholic church. So while we could have gone here,
we decided to go here instead.
Yes, we went to the Cathedral of St Paul in St Paul Minnesota.
I decided that if I was going to give my children a Catholic experience, I would give them the ultimate Catholic experience. I personally have only been in Catholic churches three times, all three times were for funerals so I wasn’t sure how to go about giving my children the ultimate Catholic experience. Therefor it made sense to just pick the biggest fanciest Catholic church that I could find. Plus, I have herd that Catholics have church on Saturday night so that seemed like an added bonus.
As the weekend approached, I started to get a little nervous. I do a pretty good job of making a fool of myself when I do know what’s going on, so I could only imagine the damage I could do in a Catholic service when I don’t know what’s going on. Would it be obvious that we were Protestants? Would I say or do something offensive? What if there was a secret handshake that I didn’t know about and they didn’t even let us in?
I took to the internet.
Once again the internet saved me. I was very much relieved to discover that there were no secret handshakes. Or passwords. Or any other requirement to get us in the door. Not only that, but it turns out that as Protestants, we would be more than welcome to participate in a Catholic mass. They wouldn’t even burn us at the stake or anything. I also learned that Saturday night service is what is called a preparatory service and not an actual mass. The preparatory service is to prepare for high mass the next day. The high mass is what we were interested in so Sunday at 10 it was.
When we arrived on Sunday morning I marched my family right up the center isle so that we could sit near the front. I wanted to make sure I could see everything that was going on. As I sat and looked around, I started to feel a great sense of awe. The building was nothing short of amazing. I won’t even try to describe it here because I could never do it justice. All I will say is that if you have never visited St Paul Cathedral, you should.
Then things got started. There was incense. There was singing from the choir loft behind us. It was a full sensory experience. The only thing missing was something tactile. Then they sprinkled us with holy water so my senses were all involved.
After a little bit of chanting from the priest things really got rolling. The liturgy and hymns started and I was surprised at how… Lutheran the whole thing was. The things that were recited were almost identical to things I recited while growing up in the Lutheran church. The hymns we sang were the same hymns I grew up singing in the Lutheran church. As a matter of fact, I didn’t really feel out of place at all. I realized that no matter what the denomination or lack of denomination, all churches have the same order of service. First, we sing. Then, we recite something, probably a statement of what we believe. Next, we listen to some guy talk. Then, we may or may not take communion. Finally, there is one last bit of music and we are done.
There is a lot of division in the church. Many churches don’t even recognize certain other churches because they feel that those other churches are so different and therefor wrong. This is absolutely ridiculous because there is really hardly any difference at all. We all worship the same God in practically the same way. It doesn’t matter if you worship Him in a new fancy seeker sensitive mega church, a 112 year old breathtaking cathedral, or in your tiny home church, we are all the same.
I look forward to seeing what the next church we attend brings to us, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be anything too shocking. I am starting to take comfort that my children will be learning that no matter where their life takes them and no matter what church they feel called to, things won’t be all that different. I won’t be disappointed if they choose a different “version” of Christianity than I have because in the end, we are all worshiping the same God.
After the service, Baby Snarky had two observations. the first was that the stained glass windows were very impressive. He really thought about how much time they must have taken to make. His second observation was that he doesn’t like chanting. “It sounds like ghosts!”
So in the end, Catholicism: pretty much Lutheran, sounds like Ghosts.