confession

I grew up Catholic.

Like, Irish and Czech Catholic for about 80 generations.

Like, my full name is Mary Kathryn.

Catholic.

I grew up Catholic in a beautiful, disciplined, non-religiously-scarring way that I really truly believe made me the kind of broad-viewed, candle-loving, choir-prone, church hall lock-in, non-athletic person I am today. Seriously.

SERIOUSLY. Stop laughing.

It was always desperately personal to me… church. I do see now how people can be a part of a family, be a part of a church (ANY CHURCH-don’t get me started), and find it stifling and run the other way. I do.  I get that now.  But for me, it was good. I don’t know why I made it through my youth wanting MORE church and others left for good, but my family and my church created a foundation of faith that has been impenetrable.

So, that’s good.

Now, I should tell you I’ve not been a member of a parish since college. I wanted to sing… and my college suite-mate sang in a small, groovy choir at the Baptist church. I grew up in the Bible Belt, and most of my best friends were Baptist. I was not afraid of them… and goodness knows, I like to dance when I sing. It was a good fit.  My last 15 years have been spent in Free Evangelical churches and Bible churches and non-denomiational churches.  As a family, the Mulders go to Blythefield Hills Baptist, though Curt grew up Christian Reformed along with the rest of Dutch West Michigan. We’re equal-opportunity worshippers. If you’ve got a choir and communion, we are in.

But mass… mass will always feel like home to me. It’s my base.  It’s where I come from. When I walk into the midnight service on Christmas Eve, I feel… comfortable.  Say what you will about Catholics, but they have a few things over everyone else: church flower arrangements and the church calendar. No other denomination even comes close.

I will not defend the faith- I am no apologetic. But I will- I WILL- I will say that for all the freedom other denominations have embraced, all the open-ess, all the non-pews, all the electric guitars… there is a little something missing in the structure part of things.  The seasons of the church. The cycles. The encouragement to come together as a community of Believers and focus.  Whether entering church and preparing your heart before the service or reading through Advent in anticipation of the Christ’s birth… the Old Church has some beautiful things to teach us.

I think we crave that structure now.  I think we’re looking up from a generation of overwhelming freedom and begging for some direction.  It’s not just the Lutherans and Episcopalians and Catholics talking about Lent anymore… even those crazy churches with office chairs for seats and stages for altars- yes, even those are turning to Liturgy for guidance in these special times.

And, that’s really what I want to say here today.

These next 40 days are special. There are some beautiful prayers and words of wisdom to be found in ancient and modern writings that can guide you to the Resurrection. This is a time to prepare, the clean house, to pray, to fast, to rejoice, to fall, to weep, to sing, and to learn. To try to see the beauty in the Big Story and focus on something other than ourselves for a bit.  Our lives today are so very undisciplined. Truly. We do what we want when we want… church and relationships included.  Maybe a little guidance, a little re-evaluation, a little sacrifice of time is exactly what is required to get over ourselves. Maybe we need a little Lent.

This season of Lent, this time… it’s not so much the ‘giving up’ as it is the intentional ‘doing.’  It’s the intentional anticipation of Good Friday and, hallelujah, Easter. If giving up helps you remember, rock it. If adding something new to your life helps you focus, bring it.

May it all lead you to the Cross.

I don’t know about you, but I have no clue where to start.  That’s ok. Here are some links that will help us.  May God be close to you as you seek Him.

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About texasnorth

TexasNorth is a little farm in Western Michigan. It's home to 5 chickens, 25 longhorn cattle, a coonhound (Banjo), 1 barn cat, a husband, and 3 ridiculously funny children. The mom of this zoo has been known to mow the lawn in a skirt and roast marshmallows after dark. View all posts by texasnorth

8 responses to “confession

  • Laurie Dadiomoff

    Just what I needed this morning. Thank you

  • Missy

    You are speaking right into this gal’s heart this morning. On every level. Standing at the Cross with you…

  • twindaughter

    I grew up Irish Catholic. When members of my family dropped out of church, I didn’t get it. I felt a safety, a sureness, in the calendar throughout the year…the rhythm of the religious life. My grandfather’s parents and my grandmother’s grandparents were born in Ireland, Catholics all. Being Catholic and Irish connected me to those people of my past, people whose stories I knew, whose songs I’d learned at my grandmother’s knee. I married a non-denominational community church attender 🙂 and we started attending a more conservative Presbyterian church several years later. We sit in real pews 🙂 and take communion and say the creeds. We look at stained glass windows every Sunday. I DO miss the candles, but I guess I can’t have everything. Your post today was lovely.

  • Becky Swann

    “May it all lead you to the cross” and keep you there! Amen sister

  • MC

    I grew up Presbyterian, usa- the preacher’s daughter…so in my adult life it has been hard to find anything that felt like home, when home was hearing my dad preach. But we have recently, all of us been received as Episcopalians and I never thought I’d get used to the catholic tradition of it all, but I really find that I am loving the old church stuff. This is a great post!

  • Margie

    When I hit Lent on Wednesday and knew it called me to a discipline, I was so relieved. Lent saves me from myself. We go to a Bible church, but the girls and I do Lent together. Even my Baptist friend has given something up for Lent the last few years. It’s a beautiful wonderful tradition of the Church, especially in these undisciplined, self-serving times. You wrote lovely words here.

  • Kim Aguilar

    I understand Lent in the way that I understand how we fast the first Sunday of every month. You give up something, food and drink in our case, to bring you closer to God. And it totally works. I don’t know where I would be without fasting. What I’m wondering, ignorant that I am, is who came up with Lent? I can google it, I just thought I’d ask. The law of the fast is explained in Isaiah, chapter 58 of the KJV (the version Mormons use), and so I know fasting dates back a ways. We give up food and drink for two meals, and then donate the money we would have spent on the meals to the church to be used for the needy of our congregation. Is there a monetary part of Lent too? Does it last 40 days because that is how long Christ fasted? Anyway, for those of us who don’t know Lent, I wanted to ask.

    • texasnorth

      Without googling, I’m going to answer that Lent is 40 days because of Jesus fasting, yes. But 40 is a big number in the Old and New Testaments. Noah (rained for 40 days), Israelites (wandered for 40 years), Moses was on the mountain for 40 days receiving the commandments, childbirth (40 weeks of preparation and growth).

      LOVE the donation part of your fasting. Love that.

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