Betty Duffy

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Engaging the World, Part 4: Mass

The best kind of membership is where we kneel.

It took awhile for Husband and I to gel on this trip. The first couple of days we were so intent on getting caught up on what we thought we’d been missing all this time. For me, during the day that meant shopping, exploring, going to the Museums and galleries, and trying to engage this world, from which I feel shut out staying home with my kids, living in the Midwest, not having a career. When Hubby and I went out, it meant that every night had to be a date night. We had to do things we normally wouldn’t do. We were preoccupied with choosing restaurants, and finding the right quarter of the city in which to spend our evening.

It wasn’t until we met for Mass one day on his lunch break, shared a Sacramental meal, “knelt” together that we also seemed to relax into the freedom of “being” ourselves as a couple. Through Sacrament, the two are made one, not through eating ethnic food, not by going dancing, though those are enjoyable things that married people should do for a good time. Through Sacrament we have membership in one another—and it’s something I take for granted when we are at home. Of course we attend Mass as a family; it is one of the few things we can all do together. But something about going on vacation has always found me initially vacationing from my prayer life. I tend, in the work of my day to day life, to equate prayer with that work from which I need a vacation.

And it wasn’t until I went out looking for some substitute communion, which cannot be had, that I realized my lack of true food on this trip. How stupid of me, to let myself starve in one of the most vibrant and truly diverse dioceses in the nation. The Catholic Community in Washington is like the Catholic Community in Rome. It is one of those places where you wonder why the Church ever did away with Latin as a common language in the Church because the vernacular here could be any language in the world.

Here is instant community, belonging, membership and engagement with THE WORLD. This is where people from every corner of the Earth come to dine on one very simple dish. It’s the same food we eat at 8 AM every morning in Shelbyville, Indiana, the same food the Holy Father is eating in Rome.

Which makes me wonder, is diversity the coming together of individuals from everywhere in the world to shed their ethnicity, their identity, and bask in the shadow of a Creator we all share? Or is it the going out of individuals to have a taste of this ethnicity and that one, make friends with this person, and that one in the interest of collecting experiences and people who develop one’s personal identity as diverse? Is it different kinds of people sharing a commonality, or is it different kinds of people “tolerating” what feel like insurmountable differences?

I know that the problem with my idea of diversity is that we do not all share the same concept of Creator, or even if we do, the expressions of our devotion are very different. We can’t all belong to the same membership, which would require the giving up of certain creeds in order to embrace entirely different ones. But I guess what I’m trying to say is that that won’t stop my rejoicing in the diversity of my own Catholic faith. I cherish belonging to a World Religion because it makes my world a little less small.

1 comment:

Emily said...

I vote for Part 2 and 4. Love the satin pajamas story. But I'm having a hard time picturing Mr. D at the Blues bar. Sounds excrutiating.