Sermon on Sarah and Abraham

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.

I want to note that I would have probably never written this sermon if it wasn’t for it being assigned to me. It’s difficult to know what to do when you’re given a story that is 1/5 of the book of Genesis. Because this is the “last” sermon I’ll preach for a while, it gave me more anxiety than it probably should have…

Sermon at the Brookline Church of Christ

May 11, 2014

You’ll have to forgive me for this… It’s the end of the semester, the end of my time in Boston, and you’ve all been so good to me. As nervous as it makes me, I’ve really enjoyed being able gain this experience preaching here, and I have no idea when or if I will ever be able to again. That being said, I hope I’m not judged too harshly here, this one being the “last” I will preach, but also being second in a sort of series on Salvation history leading up to Pentecost. Continue reading “Sermon on Sarah and Abraham”

Why did you do it? Three Reasons I Became Catholic.

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.

October 9, 2016

Why did I do it? I was asked this the other day by a post church of christer married to a catholic post church of christ… I don’t think I answered the question. You’d think after 3 years I would have my answer all worked out. I just met this person. My words?

“It was a slow burn…”

“The community…”

“I don’t know if I could have done it outside of Boston, the Jesuits, etc…”

Even though I wrote in the last post that the reason was to do the denomination thing and liturgy–totally true. It’s a copout for the more mystical answer, that is, the Eucharist.

Why did I do it? The Eucharist.

There is something indescribable that happens. And in trying to explain it, I would only ruin it for myself or someone else. That’s what Mike Montegue says in Finding God in the Waves. To sit and to be and to experience the ritual – everyday, any hour, in any language, all across the globe. There are not many (if any?) churches that can say they do this.

I love communion in church of Christ and I continue my adoration in the Catholic church.

Why did I do it? Universality.

Like in the above–I can go anywhere in the world, and be at home. The Catholic church is so huge and so small and homey at the same time. Then there is this sort annoying paradox of “universality” and “exclusivity.” How can something so huge actually be exclusive? The only exclusive part of being Catholic, is that you choose to commit. Is that too much to ask? Is that any different from any other church?

I understand the issues many have with the Catholic church (particularly on gender and sexuality), but it is still in dialogue. I appreciate this. Leadership in the church is like parents fighting over what they think is best for their children. They want the best, we’ll turn out ok…

Lastly, why did I do it? Conversion.

Because I believe in a God of conversion. If you are born and raised Christian, are you really a convert? Where is your heart blocked off from God, because you don’t believe you can be converted, changed, transformed, healed, forgiven, forgiving, or reconciled. That’s what God is after. Just because I was confirmed Catholic does not make God any less after me. Regrets? No. Issues with Mother One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church? Of course.

If I can believe in conversion for myself and others, I can believe for the same for any religious institution that is made up of myself and others.

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…

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.

All Tables Are Open to You

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 26

I preached again last week. I wrote about twice as much as I actually preached. Steve was there, and he was very encouraging. It was fun, again.

It is also really tough. I get harder on myself every time, and everyone says I get better every time. I don’t know. There are always so many holes in preaching. You can’t talk about every detail, and you can’t go too deep. Is preaching even really necessary? It’s like the equivalent of the elevator speech. Which sounds awful. One because, it’s selling something, and two because it could easily be embellished and shallow.

That’s been my struggle. I don’t want to embellish or be shallow. I don’t want to sell something. I want to try and teach something. I want to try and encourage/challenge. I want a positive introduction to what Christianity should be, what the kingdom should be, where the means are the ends.

The more I think about it, the whole homily part of church seems out of date. Originally, to teach and catechize people, that wasn’t in a worship service space at all. Ha. I sound so Catholic. All that teaching and talking is outside of worship. But this learning is also worship.

I think about my pentecostal leanings, and their preaching style is like worship. It’s like this idea of God literally speaking through whoever is preaching. Like the preachers word is the Bible. The pentecostals preach like they are speaking for God, like they are God, and they say things that they think God might stereotypically say, “I love you. But obey. Are you really obeying? Repent! Believe! You’re terrible, I love you again!” Yada Yada. Now that I look back, that’s a weird God stereotype, voice and message…

A lot of preaching is exegesis— Without using too many outside resources, what is the message here and now? There is some room for teaching historical context and criticisms, but the pulpit is not the best place to do that. Exegesis is tough. Thankfully, with the lectionary, you can pick a little bit and go for it. But five exegetical pages can easily be written on about three to five verses in the Bible. That’s why whenever someone is preaching on a large chunk or going back and forth in the Bible, I find it exhausting.

That was my challenge last week. I took a lot of material, and I could have preached on anything I wanted. The texts were ridiculously rich, and my sermon could be boiled down to Jesus’ treatment of the woman at the well and on how that’s like Paul’s reconciliation in Romans. I hardly touched on anything.

As I read my sermon, over and over, I felt like I was repeating myself: Reconcile this, reconcile that. I wanted to talk about everything. And I ended up getting some good points out, muddled with some lesser points… I still don’t know how I feel about the sermon.

The Saturday before I preached, my Presbyterian-ish friend was like, “So you’re becoming Catholic.”

“Yeah. Well, I’m getting confirmed. Like I wasn’t Catholic before…”

“Oh, well, yeah that’s true.”

“It’s ok. That’s how we say it. I’m also preaching tomorrow.”

Awkward wide-eyed pause, “How does that work?”

“Sometimes I preach at another church.”

More friends arrive breaking conversation. End scene.

Another presbyterian friend of mine said, “Yeah, it’s pretty cool. Once you do it, pretty much all tables are open to you.” He get’s it. That’s what I’m aiming for.

So, I preached on Sunday, and it was good and fun, and everyone was saying how they’re going to miss me when I move to Florida. Steve had an amazing suggestion: Women in Preaching Podcast. That’s right: WIP.

I think I’m going to do it. I started making a list of as many woman as I could think of who do preach, or have preached, or might be interested in preaching. I’ve come up with 30 people I know. Twenty more and I’ve got the year covered with sermons.

It’s a really good idea. Normal-ish average religious people haven’t busted into the podcast scene yet. The cool preachers are all busy writing books and running churches, so I figured, why not create a kind of online church.

June 13, 2016

 This is the first inception of the WIPodcast. I had the podcast for about a year (2014-2015) and then couldn’t sustain it any longer. It cost money, and took time and skills, and I had bigger fish to fry. I had to work.

It was a lot of fun doing the podcast, and I loved talking with people, hearing their stories, and putting it altogether. I’ve considered doing it again, but the time and money aren’t jiving with me right now. As I see it, there is still a huge need for more women’s voices in (well, everywhere) the Religious Podcast Media world. It’s wide open. No one is there except bunches of white dudes who do Crossfit and/or have beards.

It’s crazy to me that there is still a need even over a year since I put WIP to rest.

I don’t want to be “born again”

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 2

It was very emotional at Mass today. I was thinking about how badly I want Eucharist. And I was thinking about how I could totally steal it if I wanted to. And I was thinking about how I have taken it before. And I was wondering about whether I would give Eucharist to people at my wedding who I know are not Catholic, and I thought, “Yes.” And they sang “The Servant Song” during Eucharist, and I think I would like that to be sung at my wedding also at Eucharist.

I asked myself the question (again), “Paige, why do you want to become Catholic?” Really, it’s very simple, and it always has been. I’ve been going to Catholic mass a long time. I don’t anticipate stopping going to mass. I enjoy the community, and I would like to participate fully in that community. There’s really no reason to make it any more complicated than that. Could I have ended up some place else? Yes. Could I still end up some place else? Of course. Why does any person join any church? Because their parents made them? Sometimes yes. Because they believe that church is the most right? Sometimes also yes, but this is not the case for me. There are tons of reasons, and none of them are ever really good enough. God makes us good enough.

I have an “It will all even out in the end” sort of attitude. As many good things are in one church, there are also bad. And every church is that way. Disagree if you want, but everyone seems to be working towards the same thing: enlightenment, salvation, kingdom, heaven, good, you name it. My preferred way is Jesus, who has, over time, developed into hundreds of Christian flavors.

I heard two sermon flavors today: one about the transfiguration of Jesus, and another on not worrying, and both touched on being born-again.

At Brookline, the preacher asked us at church to think about how we’ve been transformed in our lives. It didn’t have to be a huge transformation. It was interesting because he is one of those people who were, in his words, in the trailer park, drinking beer with his dad, abusing life, and now is a PhD student in Bible. That’s a big turn around. A real traditional born-again situation.

There wasn’t a lot of time to reflect, but no one else had much of a story to tell like that. I definitely don’t. I like to think I have a good story, but there hasn’t been any big “transfiguration.” Where who I was is so drastically different from who I’ve become. I haven’t strayed far from the path. I’ve sought God for as long as I can remember. I’ve changed my mind about some things, I’ve gone to different types of churches, I’ve grown up, but the way in which I’ve grown up, and the family that I’ve come from, it’s not that big of a surprise where I am. Another person spoke up about how the older we get, we may see bigger transformation. True. Hindsight is 20/20.

But the point made in mass was about how we’ve all been born into a nice zip code (02458 is very nice), and our worrying keeps us working, and getting what we want. Being born once is good enough for us. I get this, and I feel that way. Because, odds are, if I was born again, I would not have nearly as nice a situation as I do now. My first birth is good enough for me.

I have no idea how this whole “Becoming Catholic” thing will work itself out. It is a risk I’m willing to take, just like anyone takes when they commit. Is this a born again experience? It doesn’t feel that way, but I suppose it could very well be.

 

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