Thursday, December 5, 2013
My Journey as a Catholic So Far, Pt. 3: Icebreakers and a Brief Foray Into Anglicanism
That stepping-stone overcome, I felt more free to begin the journey. As I have said, I was attending Mass already, and had been for a little while. I would, perhaps like many converts, sit at the back in the corner, trying to be unnoticed, carefully watching everyone else so that I knew when to stand and when to sit, when to cross myself and when to kneel. This was not a place to go to hear a sermon but something far more profound.
During this time, before I went to see the priest of the cathedral, I experience a slight setback. Things were moving too fast, and I thought to myself that perhaps all of this Catholic stuff was a little too much. There was something so heavy about it all - the prayers of reparation, the jangling rosaries, the burning incense, the ornate statuary. So I thought to myself, "Well, why not look into the Anglicans. Maybe this Catholic thing is all a bit too much for me."
The Anglican tradition seemed to appeal to me right away - not as strict or as imposing, they seemed to have everything that Catholics had in terms of externals; of course, I had no idea at this point about such things as "Anglo-Catholics" or "low-Church Anglicans". Visiting the Anglican Communion website, I saw pictures of nuns, the more familiar stained-glass depictions of Christ, and everything looked very similar to Catholicism at first. So, I gave it a try.
The Anglican cathedral known as Christ Church cathedral was a church I was already familiar with - a few times before, I had gone in to this seemingly always open church to pray to a God I barely knew for some guidance and direction in my life. Though grand, it felt somehow cold and hollow inside. Still, it was nice to see stained-glass images of the saints and of Jesus, candles burning over in the Lady Chapel, and the like. Of course, these are all just external elements - often these kinds of external and visual elements speak very much to the faith of a particular church itself, to take a cue from St. John of Damascus.
One thing I noted was the sound of the bells of the Anglican church when compared to the Catholic church's. When the call to church began, the Anglican cathedral rang out its bells in a loud cacophony of barely recognizable melodies; conversely, the Catholic church's bell rang out with one single, clear note.
The Anglican services I attended seemed very much geared towards specific audiences. For example, one might find as options that they could attend a more traditional (and really, to me, this is just another word for "reverent") service, or bite the bullet (in my case) and go to a "contemporary" service - this was all listed in the bulletin and on the website.
By and large, the Anglican church on Sundays seemed quite empty, considering its massive size and numerous pews. I was welcomed with applause as a visitor at one service, which was heart-warming, as it always nice to be treated with such hospitality. But everything about it seemed halfway, kind-of Catholic but in a lighter and more "open" sense.
Needless to say, the foray into Anglicanism did not last long. I did not want to do things by halves, and Anglicanism seemed to me to be too much of a paradoxical mix of Catholicism and Protestantism that, in my mind, simply did not work.
From there, I joined up in a course entitled "Veritas" on the advice of the priest I spoke to. This was an introductory course for non-Catholics, as well as a refresher for those who were lapsed but wanted to give the Church another chance, a kind of pre-RCIA.
Nervous, I entered the course and got ready to learn.