An Un-Catholic Season (Intents and Purposes)

wedding chairsBy Rebecca Curtin

Summer winds to a close…sort of. Technically we have about six weeks left, but by the academic calendar we’re looking at a measly, puny, contemptibly short two weeks!  I want to clutch at summer’s coattails like a tantruming child, crying as it struts out my front door, “You, can’t leave yet!”  Summer and I have so much left to do.

Summer started with a bang or, more appropriately, with a banns*.  The last weekend in May I had the honor to perform the wedding ceremony of two dear friends from college who were both raised Catholic but who do not anymore consider themselves “practicing.”  Therefore, it suited them to be married outside in a wooded clearing in Michigan by a practicing Catholic, who in no way would ever be able officially, under the current doctrine of the Church, to perform the Sacrament of Matrimony.  Matrimony is the “lay sacrament” but still must be performed liturgically and by a male cleric. I am not a cleric, particularly not a male one, but I have never felt more alive, more in tune with God, than when I stood with that beautiful couple in front of their beloved friends and family to help them join their own hands in very holy matrimony.  It was truly a Catholic moment for me, if a very un-Catholic one for the Church.  It was, for all intents and purposes, sacramental.

The ceremony was longer than a typical Catholic wedding mass (which is saying something – former restless flower girls, you know what I’m talking about).  But, for those eighty minutes I felt more myself than I ever have.  It was my own, quite public, act of midwifery.  I watched and I helped as my friends created and enacted their own liturgy.  I watched as something happened to their hearts and their bodies, and all present knew that despite definitions, we were attendants at a true liturgical celebration.  It wasn’t run by the Church, but it was Church.

My friends’ wedding was the spiritual high point of a season that at one point seemed to have so much possibility.  Summer’s agricultural abundance seemed to imply the promise of spiritual abundance as well.  But, since the wedding I haven’t thought much about the Church at all.  I’ve made resolutions to read the bible more (I started to make a schedule for myself, but got bored somewhere in Numbers), I’ve tried to read Catholic-ish literature (I enjoyed Brideshead Revisited, but got lost on A Cloister Walk), and I went to (Catholic) church once with my family in California.

This spiritual dry spell has made me wonder as many others have before me, am I Catholic at all?  How can I truly be if my spiritual high points aren’t technically Catholic, but are Catholic because I will them to be?  I want them to be.  I blog about my experiences, in a way, because it gives me an excuse to think about them in a Catholic context.

These questions have become more frequent and periods of spiritual uncertainty now seem liturgical in the sense of regular, reoccurring, seasonal observance. The questions may pass as fall brings with it its own spiritual energy.  But, for now they are with me as I catch a last glimpse of summer’s shawl float out the door and down the sidewalk, when I am left to wonder, to write, and to continue, for now, as Catholic as ever.

*Rebecca seeks your forgiveness for this tragic attempt at a pun.  She is also enjoying the last weeks of summer in Boston by seeking out lots of fresh produce and popsicles.


One Response

  1. Since you’re clearly a Seeker of Truth like I am, there’s a new web resource you might want to check out.

    It’s called “The Illusions and Truth Show” and it was created by a fellow Seeker of Truth named Robert Scheinfeld. Details are here:

    Scheinfeld is a real renegade who has the courage (and the personal experience and wisdom) to take a brutally honest look at the typical paths offered to experience with spiritual abundance, expose lies, illusions and stories, and help us see and experience The Truth.

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