Confirmation: I Guess I’m Catholic Now

Just Be God’s: A Call to Continuing Conversion is a series of blog posts. You might want to start reading it from the beginning: Here.

April 28

Welp. I guess I’m Catholic now. I feel about the same, but I smell like oil. I like it. I don’t want to wash off all the smells and feelings. I feel a little bit of a weight lifted. I feel grateful, but also kind of sad. Not sad because I got confirmed, but a little sad that there are friends and family that might be scandalized by the whole occasion. It’s kind of sad.

It was a great service. One of my former grad school professors presided over the mass. Mom and Dad came, and I was happy they were there to support. There was even a guy who jumped in to get confirmed at the last minute. Seriously. I think depending on the diocese/community you’re a part of, you can pretty much become Catholic whenever you want–provided you have some sort of Christian background, i.e. baptized Christian. Anyway, the ritual is intense, but good. Afterwards, there was a little reception for all of us, and we got gifts! I had no idea I would get gifts. One of my friends got me a scapular. If you wear it when the apocalypse happens, it protects you from hell. It actually says that on it. I also received a really lovely cross from one of my sponsors. It felt like home.

When I began writing all this stuff, I remember thinking that it’s good for Protestants to become Catholic. For myself, it had a lot to do with the experience of the denomination. I would say to all those “non-denominational” church people, “Go experience a denomination.” It’s beautiful. The process of learning, the rituals, the initiation, the families and friends and communities. Growing up, my experience was very anti-denomination. I realize that for some, even the word “denomination” is said like spitting, but it’s really just a descriptive word.

Wikipedia saves the day, “In Christianity, a denomination is a distinct religious body identified by traits such as a common name, structure, leadership and doctrine.” Maybe that’s why there are so many Christian churches with weird names like Lifepoint, Underground, Mars Hill, Common Ground, Cornerstone, Mosaic, Grace, Christians Meet Here, and New Walk. If they have a distinct name, well then, they can’t be a denomination. Well, I doubt they’ll escape the part of the definition about structure (prayer, band, smoke machine, 45 minute sermon, maybe communion), leadership (white married dudes), and doctrine (sola fide and sola scriptura).

I’m poo pooing on the non-denominational thing because Christianity is too big to avoid it, and the sooner we accept that, the sooner we can work together instead of battle against one another or pretend like were the only Christian church in a hell-bound vacuum.

Or, maybe my advice is to go experience liturgy. Because there are so many groups that do it! High liturgy: smells and bells and classic music and singing. And low: basically all those same things with more band worship music. The history of the Christian church is in denominations. I admit, it’s a weird breaking issue, that probably isn’t the case for others who “switch” Christian churches.

Do I know what I have gotten myself into? No. But no one ever really does. I’m happy to be here, and I’ll keep doing what I’ve been doing. That’s also what’s weird, At the beginning, I’m like, “What way am I going to go?” Both.

Time to work on my last sermon in Boston…

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I don’t get sin.

Just Be God’s: A Call to Continuing Conversion is a series of blog posts. You might want to start reading it from the beginning: Here.

April 23

Ugh. Last night was “rehearsal night” for confirmation. It was alright. It’s exciting and scary and mundane. It’s like becoming what you become. Unfairly, as a candidate for confirmation you basically have to say that you believe everything that Catholic church claims about God. I don’t really know everything that the Catholic church claims about God, so that’s kind of tough to say. I suppose if I’m going with what I think I know the Catholic church claims about God, then I’m good. Anyway, it’s a weird feeling, and I understand why a witty teenager might back out.

But I don’t know. Whatever.

It’s so wrong, the way I’m going through this process. The more I think I know, the less I know. One of my friends was like, “This is where you are now, and that’s all you can be true to.” True. Very true. I can’t worry about the past, or anticipate the future, I just have to be where I am with God, and the Catholic church is it. Not perfect. Not “believing” everything. Just being true.

Then there is this confession thing. A good practice, but, again, whatever. First, I’m pretty sure I’ve committed no mortal sin. Because, well, it’s really difficult to do this. I have my issues, my day to day struggles, that have always been. Then I have these distinct moments of venial sin action—again, everyone does this. I do wrong, knowing it’s wrong (maybe a lie, not being generous, cheating, stealing, swearing, being mean, gossiping, anger). Then there are accidents of the same thing.

I’ve always strived to be good. Never actively choosing to step out of grace with God. And maybe that’s a sin too—perfection. Selfishness. Thinking I can do everything by myself, but I need reconciliation. I need to express my imperfection and my need for God.

That’s the short story. The strange thing is rehashing all of this in my mind. Because, I also honestly believe I am forgiven. I don’t need to go to a priest. I get it. Some do need this. And it’s a good practice. A super good practice. It’s better then the cry-fest every Sunday at Evangelical churches reminding us about how terrible we are.

Three Weeks to Confirmation

Just Be God’s: A Call to Continuing Conversion is a series of blog posts. You might want to start reading it from the beginning: Here.

April 6

Three weeks to confirmation. I started thinking about how this whole being Catholic thing is going to go down. I have no idea. For me, even though I wasn’t raised Catholic, it feels like the whole “come home Catholic” thing. But it’s not like I’m coming home Catholic for me, but for all those who hated and were violent and divisive Christians before me. Having an Italian heritage means that half of me is very Catholic/Christian, probably since Paul in Rome. Or likely, being that I have red hair, my Italian side probably goes back to some barbaric pagans… Anyway, the other half of me is not at all Catholic, generationally, anti-Catholic. I know on both sides no one was perfect, and all sides probably did something wrong. But all sides did good too. I’m here, aren’t I?

I realize how flawed this thinking is. I’m not perfect either.

Like something far back inside of me is being healed somehow for someone(s), and the Saints are rejoicing. I’m not simply reconciling for myself, but for many many others in my line who couldn’t. And that’s ok, because eventually, it will be healed, and I have to hope that to be true, and try to embody that as best I can.

Catholic Confirmation: Get it over with

Just Be God’s: A Call to Continuing Conversion is a series of blog posts. You might want to start reading it from the beginning: Here.

March 29

Lately, I’ve been of the attitude of just “getting it over with” when it comes to becoming Catholic. I can’t decide if this good, or bad, or normal, or abnormal. I mean, all the depth is still there. I’m not a totally jaded Catholic yet. I’m just the normal Christian. Whatever that means. Along with my feelings of wanting to just get it over with, I am excited. I do feel a little afraid. I do believe I’m doing the right thing, even though I don’t sound like I am. I know that this is good.

I talk about it sometimes like I’m annoyed I have to do it. This is probably more human experience, as opposed to a parental brain-washing encouraging you to do or not do something you will never fully understand. “Welcome to the One Holy and Apostolic Church.” Like with anything you love, or you have to work for, that intense directed hard-working passion—it get’s old, annoying, and repetitive quite often. But you still love it. You still want it. You’re not always totally sure why you do what you do, whatever that thing is, that makes you move and keep moving, but you always know that it is good.

It’s not always perfect. You don’t always feel perfect. But you know. If you make a mistake, it’s not going to be the end of the world. It’s learning and growing.

I feel like there are so many wrong things with some of the above statements. Like, it’s just another way of saying, “Follow your heart.” But just remember, your heart is not perfect. And no, you also can’t perfectly know the heart of God, and have your hearts perfectly melded in the same direction (because you’re human surrounded by humans). However, that is what the kingdom is—working for that melding of our direction and God’s direction… until the work is done… mistakes and all.

I am in a super transition state. In addition to literally moving to another state, I’m getting confirmed, getting married, getting a new job, and planning to walk across Spain all summer. That’s not even including my hobbies of preaching and podcasting and social media and writing and counseling…

I remember that I wrote, not too long ago, that I really didn’t want to do anything that I didn’t want to do anymore. What do I want to do? I want to help people. I want to learn more tech and promotion skills. I want to have time to write, vacation, and be with family.

One of my co-workers was complaining about life, and he said something along the lines of, “You’re life is figured out!”

“What? What are you talking about?”

“You’re getting married, moving to Florida. You’ll pop out a couple kids. And you’ll stay at home and have some sort of popular blog about making your own baby food or something!”

“You think so….”

It was kind of weird. I thought it was mostly weird in that he seemed convinced and maybe even jealous. Personally, I think all those things sound great. But I can’t count on that. I keep writing. I do my thing. But I’m not consistent. I have a million other things in my mind taking me away from what I’d like to focus on. It’s the battle of feelings between “I have to do this” and “I want to do this.”

Even writing this right now, I’m procrastinating. What will this amount to? Probably nothing. But I want to do it. My being depends on it.

Dear Potential Confirmation Sponsors:

Just Be God’s: A Call to Continuing Conversion is a series of blog posts. You might want to start reading it from the beginning: Here.

All of the Sponsors!

I sent this message out to about 15 friends inviting them to sponsor me for confirmation:

2/24/2014 Gmail – Becoming Catholic. Being Protestant.

Paige to ALL THE SPONSORS!

Hello friends!

So, if you didn’t know, I’ve been going to RCIA this past school year (YAY! or NAY?!) and I’m in that whole getting confirmed discernment process with a bunch of BC upperclassmen. So much fun, and also kind of weird considering I’m like a “real” adult to them with a theology degree and super raised Christian and all that. Anyway, I wanted to invite YOU to be my AMAZING sponsor.

I know what you’re thinking, “Paige, I know I will be an amazing sponsor to you, teaching you all our secret catholic handshakes and things, but what about all these OTHER people on this email?” Welp, it was a weird conversation in RCIA the other day, “Can one person sponsor two people?” Yes. “Can many people sponsor one person?” Yes.

So there you have it. You may all sponsor me.

Will I, or won’t I get confirmed? Probably, I will… Will I stop attending mass? Probably not. Will I still preach/attend at the Brookline Church of Christ, or any other variety of church services? Probably yes. Will agree with everything the Catholic church teaches? Probably not. Will I post an impossible amount of Francis memes? Possibly yes. These and many more questions will soon be answered. 

So, as a sponsor, I think you have some responsibilities, like coming to some special masses, hang out with the bishop, write to the cardinal, tweet at Francis, bake me cookies etc. Generally keep me in line. Potential time of confirmation will be the Sunday AFTER Easter at the nine p.m. mass. Lots of undergrads.

All encouragements, criticisms, questions, and concerns regarding this are very welcome!

Is there anyone else i should inform and invite to the sponsor team? “Reply all” if you so desire.

Peace be with you, paige 

Mike: I thought you only had one sponsor?

Paige to Mike: traditionally yes, but it’s not a hard and fast rule… according to stm grad student guy who helps with rcia.

Kate:

Yayyyy confirmation and coming into full communion!

So I won’t be able to be there for the Mass. Is that ok? Can I still be a sponsor?

I will of course cyber support you in any way possible.

Congrats! Kate

Mom to Paige: So then you can be a “Non­denominational Catholic Protestant” like me! xoxo yo mamma Sent from my iPhone

Margaret to Paige

I love this. And you. And I am thrilled to sponsor you. I will most definitely be at the mass. And happy to tweet francis, bake you cookies, etc.

Peace be with YOU great one, margaret

“The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart.” ― Dorothy Day

Cheryl to Paige:

Oh Paige! How exciting! I’m so excited to join you on this spiritual journey! You will be in my thought and prayers as you prepare!!! Did you tell the peeps at Tobar Mhuire? Fr. Mel would be sooo proud of you! haha! Man, I miss those priest!

Love you! Cheryl

Dave to Paige:

Dearest Paige, Congratulations! I am so very happy that you are perhaps going to (possibly) join the Church. Now that you’re thinking about it I can less ecumenical and capitalize Church, because that’s how all the insiders know it’s THE Church. I could’ve slipped you some chrism a long time ago (I didn’t realize your baptism was valid ­ hence the purported need for surprise baptisms, which I think Kate actually tried once, right?) although the sacrament would have been neither licit nor valid. What secret handshakes have you learned? Unless, of course, you haven’t learned any, in which case that’s silly talk. Silly Paige! Thinking the Catholic Church has secrets… But I digress.

I’d love to be a sponsor, although I have many doubts about being able to be in Boston after Easter. So that limits my potential, or perhaps even destroys it. However, I do have a few other little plans to do my part in your journey… we’ll see if I am actually organized enough to get them done. I have high hopes, given how long I’ve been planning your surprise baptism.

And with your spirit, Dave

Paige to All:

Hello Sponsors! (I assume all of you are my sponsors.)

First, I want to thank all of you for your most gracious responses (they have been lovely).

Secondly, I want to let you know of things that are coming up that you should choose to attend, live tweet, skype in, object to, photograph, video, etc etc etc etc. I am approaching “The Rite of Sending.” Where we apparently begin (Feb 23 10:15 in the Height’s Room BC) a two week walk (not literally) to the Cathedral where there is the “Rite of Election” that takes place sometime in the afternoon on Sunday March 9th. I still don’t totally get it, but you should come! (Especially Margaret.)

Lastly, it’s been a very exciting semester of RCIA thus far. We’ve talked about sex, and baptism and some other sacraments, and Bibley stuff, and it’s been canceled TWICE on account of snow (even though everyone involved lives within or less than a mile from campus). Ok, well, it’s not THAT exciting… Also, because I don’t understand all the sacraments (or any?), I bought Joseph Martos’ book to learn. Any sacramental insight would be most welcome. Also, if you are somehow scandalized or offended by these weirdo updates, or would like to be removed from my sponsorship list, please let me know.

Love, Paige

Kate to Paige

Martos is a good historical introduction to the sacraments, but I wouldn’t count on it for much beyond an introduction.

Not really sure what the Rite of Sending and Rite of Election are, since I haven’t studied the RCIA, but since I’m currently reading about the origins of Lent for my exams, here’s my thoughts.

The Rite of Election is probably a modern RCIA version of when the bishop agreed to take on the catechumens who had been “elected” for baptism during the upcoming Easter vigil. Then, beginning with Lent, they began their pre­baptismal fast and instructional series. The bishop spent a few hours each morning teaching the baptismal candidates about the scriptures, doctrinal issues, and the Creed. These weeks of instruction were interspersed with rites of exorcism and renunciation of the devil/wicked ways/the world. They were not, however, taught anything about the sacraments, except that their upcoming baptism would be a complete break with their previous life and would be eternal. Then on the Easter vigil they were baptized, anointed, and received first communion. They attended Mass every day in the week that followed, being instructed during the sermons on the mysteries which they had undergone (mystagogical sermons)­ ­these sermons explained, using scripture, what the sacraments of initiation meant.

This pattern of election, fasting, instruction and celebration of the sacraments, climaxing at the Easter vigil, was a liturgical innovation of the 4th century, necessitated by the large numbers of pagans who wanted to become Christian. Although this pattern was really only necessary for a century or two, it was incredibly popular among the already­ baptized, who prayed and fasted along with the baptismal candidates and who likewise enjoyed the catechetical and mystogogical sermons. In time, it was only babies who would be enrolled and elected, who underwent the scrutinies and exorcisms, and who were baptized at Easter; but the pattern of communal prayer, fasting, penitence, and paschal expectation endured (since it really was a very good innovation) for centuries. Over the course of the Middle Ages, the Easter Vigil became moved to a Saturday morning liturgy. It was not until the 1950s that the vigil in the evening was restored (and it became very popular). Furthermore, it wasn’t until after the reforms following Vatican II that the RCIA came into being, modeled upon this early Christian pattern, and restoring the original baptismal meaning to Lent.

So, there’s my contribution for the connection between Lent and the process you’re going through. I’d be happy to answer any questions!

LOTS OF LOVE (and maybe an upcoming Catholic Meme cheering you on), Kate

Clarissa to Paige

Yo Paige ­ I’ve sat down to write an e­mail to you twice but it time keeps getting away from me. First of all congrats on making it this far. And secondly, I’m honored that you would ask me to be one of your army of sponsors. That’s quite special. I can’t make it physically to Boston for the Mass, but thanks for the invites.

I’m not sure what you need from me from afar but I will certainly be praying for you as you prepare for the Sacraments (wait, did you take Bader’s Sacraments class with me?).

Man, this is exciting stuff.

How are things/life in Boston other wise? Let me know if you make it out to the Midwest and maybe we can rendevous in a cornfield in Illinois or Indiana.

Peace, Clarissa

Kevin to Paige

Awesome ­ yay can’t wait to go to Easter mass with u!!!!!!

Margaret to Paige

I accept these invitations and will do what I can about the sacraments… hmmm… 10:15 is MAD late. I’ll think about it, but wanted to let you know that YES i’ll be spiritually present there.

Margaret

Margaret to Paige

Also… Dorothy Day is my favorite person who talks about the Eucharist. Confirmation is slightly confusing to me. I get marriage… even though I’m not… That’s all I have for the moment…

Paige to Margaret:

Come on! We can dress in sweats and hoodies and pose like undergrads. It’s ok. You and Doug are the most likely to attend any of the crazy RCIA masses. I think I have to be there at 9:45, and we’re supposed to have some sponsor there. Could you make it on March 9th?

Dorothy Day does talk great about the Eucharist! I do enjoy her style. Kind of how I feel.

Yeah, maybe I should start by reading about confirmation, it probably is the most confusing.

I don’t even get marriage.

The only things that make sense to me are pretty much baptism and eucharist, but that’s because I’m a protestant…. I don’t know why foot­washing isn’t a sacrament…

Heart, Paige

Margaret to Paige

Aright I’ll stop being a flake. Count me in.

Chris to Paige

Hi Paige!

Congratulations!! Now I really wish we made that Inception video with you and Tom Groome.

I can honestly say that the Catholic Church will be better off with you as an official member. I’m really proud of you for making this decision and taking this journey. I’m sure it can be hard and a bit scary (the sacraments and parish­based formation often are), so I really look up to you for exploring and following how God is calling you. Your passion for the faith is something I always admired. I know we all studied theology but I often got the feeling that you were one of the few who really knows and loves Christ. And you going through RCIA is just another example of how you have challenged me to live out my faith better. So congrats.

As for being one of your sponsors, I am incredibly honored and couldn’t be happier to help. However, I don’t know if I can make it to much. I can’t make the Rite of Sending today, and I’m going to be getting back to NYC from a trip with some students on March 9th during your Rite of Election. If I’m reading your email correctly and your actual Confirmation is April 27th (the Sunday after Easter), then I should be able to make that at least. So if that means that I can’t be one of your formal sponsors, that’s fine. I will be praying for you anyway.

Well, I hope everything else is going well. I can’t wait to see and hang out with you again. Good luck with everything and let me know if there’s anything I can do.

Sincerely, Chris

Mystery and Desire

Just Be God’s: A Call to Continuing Conversion is a series of blog posts. You might want to start reading it from the beginning: Here.

February 18

I just read a little piece on DailyTheology.org here: http://dailytheology.org/2014/02/18/living-the-questions/

It’s about a High School teacher in theology in Massachusetts. It’s a nice piece about the mystery that is God.

I find myself at this point where I’m half in one place an half someplace else. I just want to be in the other place, the place I’m not in right now. I want to be out of my job. I want to be married. I want to be in Florida. And I want to be Catholic. It’s strange how I have gotten here, but I feel less waiting now and more readiness.

I don’t know exactly what is compelling me to question less and do the confirmation. It’s because I have already asked a lot of questions, I don’t have all the answers, some of the answers aren’t even adequate, but I still want to go through with confirmation. Is there worry or fear or wonder? Of course, and maybe that’s part of the draw. Will there be a drastic cultural shift or no? I don’t know.

I started reading a textbook on the sacraments because I don’t know them. I don’t think that it will greatly change my mind or even make me feel more secure in the Catholic choices I’ve made thus far, but I want to learn. Not taking a course on the sacraments was another short-coming of my dual-degree program. But alas, I wasn’t in it to become Catholic, or to teach Catholic things. I was in it to become a counselor, and now look at me.

Late Catholic Paperwork!

Just Be God’s: A Call to Continuing Conversion is a series of blog posts. You might want to start reading it from the beginning: Here.

February 10

This morning, I was thinking about how I had to fill out my Catholic paper work, but I never heard back from Sr. Mary about if she was able to open it and get it in in time. Part of me was like, “Oh well, that’s okay.” But then another part of me was like, “No! I don’t want to have to do this again!” Like, if I miss my confirmation window this round, I won’t have the wherewithal to do it again.

I would be strangely sad and annoyed if I was “too late” The paperwork for the bishop looks quite strict, like, “If you don’t get this to us by the date, then you can’t become Catholic until next year.” It’s disheartening. Then in some ways, maybe it’s a nice thing, because obviously no one is like super worried for my Protestant soul.

I guess I would be pretty sad if my impending Catholicism was postponed on account of a technicality and the strictness of the Boston diocese. My parents already have tickets to come out and see the Confirmation. But it’s nerve-racking not hearing from Sr. Mary… I’m sad about it.

Other things that feel awkward about confirmation— another nine p.m. mass. It’s all undergrads.

And that is really close to my bedtime.