St. Christopher Catholic Church
This week, I attended a Sunday evening service instead of a Sunday morning service. I know what you’re thinking, and no, it wasn’t because I was hungover.
My friend and coworker, Zach, reached out and offered to take me to his local church. St. Christopher Catholic Church is on Grandview avenue and hosts a service called Last Call at 6PM. The service caters mostly to the younger crowd, but there will still people of all ages at in attendance. It was what I would call a "contemporary" mass, which, until tonight, I didn’t know existed. The worship songs were contemporary and sang mostly from a special Last Call pamphlet instead of the normal songbook in the back of the pew. The band was a little jazzier than one might expect at a Catholic service.
After some light googling, I determined the songs sung at the contemporary service were released somewhere between the year 2000 and 2006, as where some hymns in a traditional Catholic hymnal can date back (literally) over a century. Although I’m sure more modern Catholic services like this one exist in other places, it wasn’t like anything I had experienced before in relation to Catholicism. There was still the standard amount of call-and-response type rituals, standing, kneeling, sitting, and standing again. There was still communion and a homily. It followed the structure of any other mass I have attended, but the components felt more relaxed. I found it refreshing and unique, which is becoming harder and harder for me to find as I go to church after church.
The homily was given by a visiting missionary from Peru named Pablo. God bless Pablo and the work he is doing in Peru. I wish I could tell you what exactly that work was, but his accent was pretty thick and didn’t translate well through the church sound system. I think the gist was that Pablo works with disabled children and their families in Peru, while also spreading the gospel. He’s worked in Peru for nine years and in other countries before that. I think it’s neat Pablo came to tell his story, and I don’t fault him for not being a fluent English speaker, but at the end of the day I wasn’t able to take much away from his stories. I wish him the best.
More what I took away from today was the peace I felt being in the church. These last few weeks I have definitely been less dedicated to this project. I have excuses I tell myself for that – I’m moving apartments, I have family commitments, I have my own annoying problems making it harder and harder for me to get out of bed in the morning. All of that weight has been a really convenient reason to not go to church. The process of going is exhausting and terrifying sometimes. When I don’t have friends like Zach to take me along to places they already know, I have to figure out where I’m going. If it’s a new denomination, then I need to brush up on their history. I gotta figure out worship times and what to wear and then how to get there and which door to go in (why does every church have like 3 different entrances and no clear signage?), and then navigate the complexity of the worship process of each individual church. I’m not here to complain about all of these things, collectively they take maybe two hours of my week, but the idea of doing them when I have plenty of other things on my mind make them feel impossible. And what I realized today is that those things weighing me down are all the more reason to wake up and go to church. The extra stuff is annoying – the research and stress of being in a new place with a new group of strangers every week – but the feeling of going to church and checking out of my own head for an hour is so nice. Of course I’m still praying for my own stuff and my own issues, but I am also thinking about ways that God can help me or change me instead of brooding over something I have no control over. Surrendering control to God, if it’s only for the hour I am in church, is so freeing.
So basically, the weeks where church feels the most like a burden are the weeks when I most need to go. The serenity of a church service comforts me now. Some parts are still not fun, I still have theological debates in my head, and I still have moments where I wonder if this blog was a good idea or not. I would say overwhelmingly, though, I gain 1000x more from the experience than I lose. I need to keep that in mind while the summer drags on. It is jarring to realize I am halfway through 2018, and although so much of this journey is behind me, I still have so far to go.