We went today to a church called Seacoast. Actually, I wouldn’t really call it a church. It’s more of a youth center of sorts, that at the same time houses people of all ages and backgrounds. I’ve realized over the past few years that I’m very stubborn about what I do when it comes to religion, and I’m extremely particular about what I do on Sunday mornings. Maybe it’s just that I don’t like change… but I think to some degree it is also that I just have a strong sense of exactly what I want in a service, or in the Catholic case, a mass.
So this Seacoast thing is nondenominational. I’ve always sort of had a problem with that in my mind. Being faithful is always good, and attempts to better yourself as a person are certainly welcome. I applaud those who do really put themselves out there in order to serve the lord and really guide others into the spiritual arms of God. However, I feel that in a nondenominational environment, a lot of structure is missing.
When I got my first tattoo, it was originally a reminder to never forget the religion I was born into and the God that provided me with the life that I have. It’s become evident that that bond to Catholicism is so strong, that I become very uncomfortable with other ways of doing things. However, I’ve been to Episcopalian and Protestant services. I guess to me it’s more the lack of prayer, the lack of a profession of faith, the lack of a blessed Eucharist and the lack of kneeling in devotion to God.
The person who spoke the sort of sermon for the group today was not even physically there. We watched the guy talk on a screen for over an hour. I just don’t feel like this is enough of a personal connection to what he’s saying, and I think it would mean so much more if he were actually there. The biggest question I had during the service was when the guy dropped the fact that he had a wife, and my question was this: How can you possibly be fully devoted to God 110% if you are married? That is one of the things that sets Catholics apart – if you go into seminary school, you give up the rite of marriage. In a sense, you become married to God, and it is your job and your duty to inspire others and pass that message on to others. There is no such thing as being a preacher by day and a husband by night. He quoted verses a great many times, but I wonder if he was twisting the words. I’d be interested to see them in context. The whole thing just makes me really uneasy, if you couldn’t already tell. I guess any sort of semblance of religion is good, but I would just really miss that structure and specific prayer.
When asked about my religion and what mass entails, one point I made was that when we listen, we always sit. When we sing and praise God, we stand. But when we pray, we kneel. The silence of the church is amazing during that time. There is no music, and generally limited prayer if any. That’s the time I live for. That time doesn’t exist at a service like this. There is always a band playing, or some sort of something going on to distract you from what you’re really there for.
In a way, it reminds me of NCYC that I went to several years ago. It was one of the best experiences of my life, and the main concept was 20,000 Catholic teens that met up in Columbus, Ohio for four days and had a giant youth rally that revolved around us reviving our faith, recharging our Jesus batteries, and praising our faith loud and proud. I liked that a whole lot, and I really think it had a profound effect on my life – but that was only four days, and I don’t think I would be able to take that sort of thing every single Sunday, which is what these nondenominational services feel like: like some sort of glorified extravagant youth group. I liked my youth group back then, but now I like to sort of do that sort of thing on my own; to have some special time put aside that is just for God and me.
There were two other things that were mentioned that were talked about. During the main talk, he talked a lot about money. That was the main fuel for every topic. Why? I felt like I was being guilted into giving more and more and more into the church. And that through that giving I would be seen well in God’s eyes. I don’t think that’s what it is all about; maybe they’re missing the point and maybe I just took it the wrong way.
The other thing is baptism. In Catholicism, baptism is one of the seven sacraments and it’s not to be taken lightly. It’s not a joke, and it’s a very serious service. It’s the first time that you are really inducted into the church community as a Catholic. When you are confirmed, your choice to continue with the religion at that point is confirmed. Baptism isn’t a joke, and in my eyes, just pouring water over someone or having them jump in a pool doesn’t make them baptized. Without the blessing itself and the prayer, it’s just water, and means nothing. Not to mention pushing the idea of baptism on people isn’t right… converting is great, but people should do it of their own accord. Your constant nagging won’t help anything. It just frustrates me.
I may just be very judgmental. I may just be extremely unaccepting, which is not the way that God teaches. But I can’t help the way I feel, only work on it to change it over time. The whole thing just bothers me, and I can’t wait to get home to my church.
Lyric of the day:
"I'm coming home, to the place where I belong"