Thursday, July 2, 2015

Last Mass

Lost and Found
Back in the 1980’s I found myself very frustrated with God and church in general. Nothing seemed to be going right. What’s the use, I asked myself, in believing in a God who never answers prayers. Is he really out there at all?

After much soul searching I had decided to forget the whole religious idea and just get on with life. Work and family were the important ingredients for life I had decided. Things continued to go wrong but at least I wasn’t depending on an unseen God to direct my future. I was in charge and would plow on alone in my quest for my ideals.

By 1986 I had decided to join my husbands Baptist faith. We went to a candel lighting ceremony . They had the Lords Supper (which they rarely do) as they passed the heavy pewter plate ton me it flew into the air. My husband caught it and the crackers floated down like feathers. Scared me half to death. As Christmas approached I felt a sudden nostalgia to attend one last Midnight Mass. The feeling lingered all week long and gradually became an obsession, so on Christmas Eve I decided to go to confession and attend the Midnight Mass at the local parish. I knew I had to confess my sins to participate and so off I went that Saturday to make my first and what I thought would be my last confession.

When I arrived at the parish at the appointed time which was listed on the sign outside the church, there was no one around but a lone workman. He asked me if he could help me and I told him I was there for confession. He gave me a very strange look, and said we don’t have confessions on Holy Days. We did general confessions last Wednesday. 

I was very embarrassed as I knew he must know I had been gone from church a long time as I had no idea the rubric’s had changed and I was truly a duck out of water as my father used to say. Quickly sputtering that I was sorry to have disturbed his work, I turned to leave as fast as I could. Suddenly I found myself running out the door and straight into another workman. I almost fell over from the collision. The man steadied me on my feet and asked if he could help me. By this time I was so embarrassed I just wanted out of there. I told him I had mistakenly come thinking there would be confessions and to that he replied: “No problem, I’m Father Mike and I can hear your confession.” Then he whipped out the ole Roman collar from the back of his overalls. Egad! I thought, now I am well and truly stuck, I’ll have to go through with it, so I followed him to the confessional and began my first confession in over twenty years. It wasn’t easy as I forgot how to go through most of the prayers so I began with “Bless me Father for I have sinned, it has been twenty years since my last confession and I don’t remember how to confess. You’ll have to help me. To which he replied: “No problem and lead me through the process. It all went smoothly until I told him I had just come to attend one last Mass before I left the church for good. Suddenly he let out a chuckle and said; “Well we are glad you came for one last Mass and we hope you’ll decide to stay. I told him that wasn’t very likely but thanks anyway.”

With that ordeal over with, I proceeded on my way. When time for Mass came I got dressed up in my finest Christmas attire and off to Mass I went. I was supremely confident in my decision and all was well with the world. At church the old childhood memories flooded in. The sights, the smell, the magic of it all seemed to return as it had in days of my childhood. I chuckled to myself remembering how I fell out of the pew fast asleep when I was five years old at Midnight Mass. I remembered how we used to have a Chili supper after Mass and then open our gifts. It all came flooding back to me as I sat in the pew listening to the music and readings of the Mass. As time came for communion to begin I panicked a bit as things had changed drastically since I had last received communion. Gone were the altar rails and kneelers. Now everyone just formed a line and went up to receive. I kept trying to peek around to the front of the line to see what they were doing. As I got closer I could tell they cupped their hands and said: “Amen” as they received the host in their hands. OK! I thought to myself, I can do that. When my turn came I confidently stuck out my cupped hands to receive and said “Amen! And the instant the host hit my hands it felt like it weighed one hundred and fifty pounds. I hit the floor on my knees so embarrassed I wanted to crawl under a pew. As I got back up with help from Father Mike…he was grinning ear to ear. Good Lord, I thought to myself…”What was that about?” I quickly went back to my pew and sat down utterly befuddled. Then all of a sudden I heard Christ’s voice speak to me. “It was I, I am truly present in the Eucharist and I am here for you. Welcome Home!”

Needless to say I came home to my faith. Christ set me back on the road to belief and love for Him. It is a decision I have never regretted and even though I have not heard Him speak to me since that day, I know He is real and loves us all. I was lost and He came to find me, just as the bible says.

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