laceblade: Shot of stained glass window from St. Norbert Abbey, text says: Eli, eli lamma sabachtani (Catholic: Eli eli)
laceblade ([personal profile] laceblade) wrote2013-12-02 06:59 pm

[December meme]: Religious Community [01]

This is the first post in the "you generate my content" meme. I still need more suggestions, b t w. Feel free to suggest multiple topics.
Also, I lock just about all of the posts I write about my personal life, but I'm going to see how many of the posts in this meme I can post unlocked.

[personal profile] j00j asked for religious community, as in community of laypeople moreso than a religious order or etc. This post meanders a lot & I'm not sure I addressed what you wanted me to, so sorry ^^;;;

Back in high school, a woman at the church named Carrie took my friend Ryan, my friend Heather's sister Rachel, & a dude named Andy who was in another school system on a trip to a place called St. Meinrad in Indiana. St. Meinrad is a Benedictine monastery, & they had a liturgical youth conference every year.
The four of them came back & wanted to start performing youth liturgies. Some of my friends & a few other intelligent/talented people joined a group that we self-dubbed, for lack of a better term, Youth Liturgy.
We planned masses: the music, who did the readings, etc. We wrote the petitions.
We acted out the gospel. We delivered homilies ourselves or assisted the priests in delivering them (and when local Catholics called out this practice in the diocesan newspaper, I wrote letters back).
For Pentecost one year, we lit the baptismal font on fire. For Palm Sunday, we did stuff from Jesus Christ Superstar.
We made programs, and two members would draw art for the covers. I still have some of Jenny's up on my bulletin board - they were beautiful.

For the music, Carrie's son Matt led us, & the choir we created was called "Youth Liturgy."
The liturgies themselves were great. We'd close every mass by singing "Carry Your Candle" & walking out with candles.

But we did other stuff, too.
I met with our youth minister & two older/slightly more popular kids to try & create a youth group that met weekly. We called ourselves "The Quest."
We cleaned out the youth space & tried to get more of it.
I went to St. Meinrad myself one summer, and Lindsey/Ryan/I went to Notre Dame another summer for a different conference.
We had mission trips in Washington, DC and in Milwaukee, which focused on doing work (and not evanglization).
When the people in my grade (the biggest % of youth liturgy people - me, Lindsey, Jennifer, Heather, Kristy, etc.) graduated, we had a retreat at the Abbey, which was really nice.

We infiltrated a bunch of the standing committees in our parish so that our concerns would be heard. I don't remember what anybody else joined, but mine was the Worship Committee, which controled the art/environment aspects of church - banners, cloths used on the altar, whether the lady who was slightly off the deep end could put up her bigass picture of the Divine Mercy.

It's hard to describe what made this group special. A large chunk of people were already my friends (and joined b/c I joined first).
Some people (Carrie, Tom, Colin, etc.) were people I respected the hell out of, & still do.
Matt's suicide undoubtedly tied us in a way that only tragedy can.
But mostly, we just talked, about everything. It's a fine balance, in talking about faith, needing to be creative together, sometimes acting with one another, etc.
People were excited to come to our masses.
I didn't realize until later what a big deal being permitted to be involved in delivering the homilies actually was.

Putting it all together like this, it was sort of a how-to on getting involved in a bureaucratic structure & forcing it to listen to a group of people who felt ignored.
When I go to mass now, every aspect of the liturgy makes me think about the time I spent with my friends, our own preferences for different aspects of the liturgy, etc.



In college, I attended mass at St. Paul's at the campus end of State Street. Almost my first day there I met James, some kind of liturgical minister who also sang well. He took me out for dinner at Chin's one night, and after telling him all about Youth Liturgy, I agreed to write the intercessions for weekend masses - I did this weekly for all four years.
While living in the dorms my first two years, I walked to church with Paul, a guy I was friends with from high school. Paul and I disagreed on almost every aspect of the liturgy - he'd prefer mass be said in Latin with the priest facing away from the pews. Still, we had a similar sense of humor and had to try hard to not smirk at one another when things went wrong during mass.

In the second two years at St. Paul's, a committee was formed so that disparate groups of people responsible for different parts of mass could meet and talk - thus, I was invited.
This was my first time meeting people other than James.
I don't remember the controversies or topics discussed, except that I felt like an outsider. These people's entire social lives revolved around St. Paul's, and mine didn't.
Everyone else's opinion of me solidified when I expressed my opinion about lector training, which Paul and I had just gone through. (I liked reading aloud.) I said that I had felt turned off by our trainers talking about their personal faith relationships with God - I had come to be trained, not for a spiritual retreat. The training was very long due to this, and I had homework to do.
I phrased my feedback as nicely as possible, but I could tell I'd hurt this girl's feelings. Since everyone else was friends with her, I felt like people were pretty cold toward me after that.

I know that I would have been able to speak frankly at Youth Liturgy about something like this. I do like talking about faith with people when I expect to do it.
But yeah. I need people who think about what they're doing and are willing to talk about aspects of the liturgy/trainings/whatever that they take for granted. This is a thing that often disappoints me in most groups of people, though.

After college, I defriended most of these people on Facebook over the next couple years due to their semi-evangelical and/or misinformed political posts.



While living in my efficiency on Hancock Street, I attended St. Patrick's downtown. I tried attending a Catholic feminism group, which is thoroughly documented in this post.
The group of women weren't actually feminists. I eventually left that parish because the priest is about as conservative as our bishop.
Even while I still identified pro-life, I found his constant homilies on abortion insufferable.



I now drive across the city to attend mass in a parish that feels - in its 1970s construction and homillies - like my home parish did when I was in high school [it doesn't feel home-like THERE any more because of the crappy priests they've gotten lately]. I peruse the bulletin whenever I'm there, but all activities surround food.
There's a chronic pain group in which I'd been interested, but they meet during the work day.
I'm leery of making friends - would they be judgmental upon finding out I live with my non-Christian boyfriend?
I also ignored it for a couple years while learning to cope with chronic pain and a few spin-offs from that.
I feel like I have my shit together now, though, so I'm still looking.
I've been considering seeing about volunteering at the Catholic Multicultural Center, which my parish now runs after the bishop abruptly and inexplicably cut funds and shut it down.

There are other things I'd like to look into more, too, like Call to Action, etc.



Overall...I'm really lucky to have had the community I did growing up in my church - the circles of friends I had in general growing up, I know that I'm really lucky.

I'm still trying to find ways to recreate that now.
It's more difficult when you're older and aware of politics, etc. In high school, most of the Catholic-esque politics went over my head.

And amusingly now, most of us who were in Youth Liturgy together have pretty radical beliefs about the Church, and are mildly "heretical" in our thoughts on social teachings, etc.



Since the point of this post is to be part of a user-content-generated meme, I'm going to say that I'm more open to questions than usual.
troisroyaumes: Painting of a duck, with the hanzi for "summer" in the top left (Default)

[personal profile] troisroyaumes 2013-12-03 03:21 am (UTC)(link)
I got asked to talk about religion for one of the days on this meme; although the particulars are different, I suspect my post will end up having a lot of parallels with yours. It's somehow reassuring to know there are other people who are in a similar sort of place w/r/t Catholicism!
liseuse: (catholic socialist weirdo)

[personal profile] liseuse 2013-12-03 01:25 pm (UTC)(link)
Growing up and becoming more aware of things has made my relationship with Catholicism more difficult as well. When I was in school it was much easier because the community was there, and we were brought into it, but trying to find a place in it as an adult with very different politics to a lot of the local Church is ... trying, for lack of a better word.
j00j: rainbow over east berlin plattenbau apartments (Default)

[personal profile] j00j 2013-12-04 12:59 am (UTC)(link)
Thanks for sharing this; it is some of what I was curious about, I think. My reason for asking is mostly that I'm curious about other peoples' experiences of religious life. I was raised United Methodist (and on dad's side there are several generations of pastors), and grew up going to church, and also drifted away largely because of frustrations with politics (largely the attitude towards GLBT congregation members and clergy, though also fundamentalist/evangelical views-- this was mostly a lefty church, but there were plenty of fire and brimstone types at the youth conferences, and a few in our pews). Also, increasing agnosticism. I found something of this kind of community in college, with members of multiple faiths (I went to a Quaker school), but still ran into some of the same political differences. But I find I miss the ideal of that community, one of people who look after each other (and preferably geek out about religion), even if I find something of it elsewhere in my life. And agnostic though I may be, I miss some of music and the ritual. Given my politics and my polyamory, I'm not sure anyone but the UUs would welcome me, assuming I stick with Christianity.