“Rite of Sending”
So many feelings and thoughts. This past week, I was feeling bad about having all the sponsors I have, because it disseminates the responsibility. Lucky for me, I have a very good friend in Margaret, who will do her best in all her busyness.
I had mentioned that one of the guys who helps with RCIA told me that I can have as many sponsors as I want, but then Sr. Mary in a very serious tone said, “You can only have one sponsor!” Yes. For the paperwork. You can only have one sponsor. However, I found this information from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee quite quickly:
“May a candidate have more than one sponsor? Yes, however only one person should be designated as the liturgical sponsor who will present the candidate for confirmation.”
Pretty simple. I just thought it was kind of funny how Sr. Mary got a little uncomfortable with the whole thing. Occasionally, I feel like I’m supposed to feel that Catholic guilt thing, and be very somber and serious, but I just can’t. It’s not how my faith works, and it’s not even what the Catholics want anymore. In my opinion, whatever somber seriousness exists is sort of like some sort of residual trauma. They want to feel more comfortable, but what’s comfortable is discomfort. So weird.
So this “Rite of Sending” thing is all about sending the catechumens to the Cathedral to be presented to the Bishop/Cardinal? Then, there, is the “Rite of Election”, where the catechums are officially elected by the cardinal or whatever for confirmation. Now, everything is slightly different being a catechumen versus a candidate. For instance, technically, the catechumens (not baptized) are sent out of the church during the Eucharist, and I think, technically, they are always supposed to be sent out as a part of the liturgy. As a candidate, I’m just like, hanging out, do a lot of the same things as the catechumen, but am considered a more ritualized Christian than the catechumens. Then again, it seems like since a catechumen is 100% Catholic (getting baptized in a Catholic church), they somehow get more grace than I do as a candidate. I can’t win!
I like this, and I don’t like this. I want to be a part of all the crazy weird rituals, but then I also like being considered sort of a part of the Christian community, just not the Catholic one. This also gets back to my original beef with the Catholic church: they are so exclusive. Universal and exclusive. Both/and.
Then, there is Sandra, my best friend, who was Catholic and now more Church of Christ. In a sense, and I don’t know how she did this, she’s pretty much given up on/not at all Catholic. It’s impressive. Most struggle, it’s all or nothing. But she found a home in the Church of Christ and that is so nice to see. It’s tough moving around denominations. It’s tough breaking the bonds of what might be toxic past culture. Sandra, will probably never work with or be a part of the Catholic church. I say that now, but I’m not actually sure I believe it. Like me, she has a lot of Catholic mentors. The Catholics are everywhere:
“We are your teachers
And you doctors
And your Buger King cashiers
We’re your receptionist
And your interns
And your Amtrack engineers
We are your lawyers
And your tour guides
And don’t forget your actors on TV”
– EPIPHANY from Altar Boyz
For me though, becoming confirmed has nothing to do with bond breaking, and has everything to do with bridge-building. I want to love and accept and use my roots, and I want to use this to better understand, heal, and commune with the Catholic church. I want to talk across the lines and it not be weird. I have to start within myself in order for that to be possible. If I can’t cross that line in my own mind, how can I possibly help others do the same.
Line crossing is not my favorite analogy. I guess the only line I’m crossing is that one of not buying into fundamentalist dogma. The Catholics are the most dogmatic, but my experience of Catholicism has not been about that, and I believe that that is true Catholicism, and that is true Christianity. I could say the same thing about a lot of Christian groups, but I’m starting with the big dogs. If I can be in them and them in me, it opens up real possibilities for genuine faith, healing, and transformation.
The famous part from readings in Matthew (5:44) this week is “Love your enemies.” Now, I don’t consider Catholics my enemies, but many might, so how in the world do you love them. A quote from the sermon this week (at Church of Christ, by a lady), reminiscent of MLK was “The kingdom can only be advanced when our means match the desired ends.” The kingdom, I imagine, is where we all get along in our difference, where we don’t ignore or condemn the other, but are with the other, working together. Right now, the other, for me, is the Catholic church, and that’s how/where I want to advance the kingdom.
It may bleed out to other areas as I grow. And I know by this same logic, someone might say, “Well, maybe I should go become a Muslim.” I don’t know how that would work, but I imagine it’s just as possible—to genuinely honor your root community, and to work with and navigate another. That’s radical. I’m hardly being radical. I’m a super privileged jerkface on an unorthodox spiritual journey. Not only that, I find that I am a minister to the privileged. Yuck. Chances are, that if anyone gets around to reading this, they are super privileged jerkfaces too. I digress.
In addition to the “Rite of Sending” yesterday, Sandra and I were in charge of Communion at the Brookline Church of Christ. Well, I was in charge, and Sandra helped. This is what I wrote for the reflection:
“Communion is my favorite thing. I love doing it every week. I would do it every day. To me, even from being a child, it was always a very special space, like a secret party. I love how there is this very intentional space where it’s not just about examining our own relationship with God, but fully acknowledging the presence of God and are invited to be with God and love God. But it’s not just about me and God, it’s about US and God, and it’s about YOU and I.
Communion isn’t just with God, it’s with everyone around us, it’s our family and our friends and, based on today’s readings, even with our enemies. Jesus broke bread with Judas, and we may literally or figuratively be called to do the same thing.
And on the night he was betrayed he broke bread saying, “This is my body broken for you.” And he took the cup saying, “This is my blood poured out for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And I might add, Do this in rememberance of everyone who has made this table possible, all the people here now, and all who have contributed in the past, and to our own live journeys in communion with God.
God, open our hearts to know you better through the people all around us, to see communion beyond this table and our own seat in the pew. And accept the love you have for us.
So that was the plan, and I used most of it, but it wasn’t how I started, because the song before communion was “The Greatest Commands” and probably one of the greatest four part harmonies to hit the CoC in the past 30 years. I have no idea when it came out.
Whenever I hear that song I think of my extended family. We are huge, and we are all different flavors of Church of Christ, and when we get together, we nail that song. Being together and singing, fully aware of our differences, but choosing to sing, that is communion.
We haven’t sung that song all together in a long time. Maybe we will again some day. But I can still hear everyone’s voices, especially my grandma.