Why this blog? Why Me? Why now?

Recently, after a series of particularly stressful events, I had a day that was full of tiny moments that all seemed designed to push me towards God. As I've never been a regular churchgoer and certainly not a believer, this came as a bit of a shock. I have never felt that I was missing anything, but it was too strong of a feeling to ignore. It is possible that in a month or week or day that the compulsion will pass. It is also possible that it will not.

I started this blog to document the process. I am starting from scratch, more or less, so please forgive me if I get some fact about your church or your faith wrong. I'm a work in progress.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

If Today You Hear His Voice, Harden Not Your Hearts

Today we went to church. I haven't been to a non-holiday church service since college. We'll be attending a local Catholic church, because my husband identifies as Catholic. While we were both raised to go to church, his experience was much more about faith than mine, which was more about what my parents wanted. This is not to say he wanted to get up and go as a child, but the God part was more of a factor than for me.  Since I'm not dedicated to a denomination, and he can't imagine being anything but Catholic, this is our choice.  So today we loaded up the kids and went to church.

There are a lot of parts to the Catholic Mass that I just don't understand. I find ritual very comforting and love the responsive readings and the formality of the sit, stand, kneel. I love the robes and the kissing and the part where the Priest does some things that are for God and not for the congregation. I don't know what half of it means. I don't know what comes next. I don't know which words I should capitalize! I'm learning. One of the things I learned today is that every Catholic church has the same readings as each other every week. The Priest creates his own sermon based on one of them, but everyone hears the same words and songs. I love that.  I love that if I had a friend in Alabama or California who was also Catholic that we could compare notes.

In a no-longer-surprising turn of events, today's Responsorial Psalm (another new term!) was the following from Psalms 95: 1-11:

R. (8) If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;
let us acclaim the rock of our salvation.
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us joyfully sing psalms to him.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us bow down in worship;
let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For he is our God,
and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
"Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
as in the day of Massah in the desert,
Where your fathers tempted me;
they tested me though they had seen my works."
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

This happens very near the beginning of the service, with the bold lines being the respsonse. Really? My first day back at church in 13 years (not counting baptisms and holidays) and it hits my exact situation? Does that really happen? As this week has progressed I've been feeling uncertain. I'm still planning to follow through, but it really started to feel like I made the whole thing up. I was starting to think that we were going to church for everyone else's sake, and for the community. I didn't know that I was going to be able to get anything out of this. So WHAM, first thing, harden not your heart. Also, there was a cello.  This was the best intro I could have had to the rest of the service. After we left my husband and I both commented on how appropriate this was, for our new beginning.

The rest of the service was a bit harder to pay attention to, as my children have been to church even less than myself.  We knew going in that we'd likely leave early (at Communion, for those of you following along at home, since none of us could take it anyway We were very happy that the kids were able to (mostly) sit and bear it that long.) but I don't mind, it's a start. When I first met my husband, I bought a couple books about Catholicism ( What Catholics Really Believe--Setting the Record Straight: 52 Answers to Common Misconceptions about the Catholic Faith and Catholicism For Dummies ). I think I should dig them out and add them to my Recommended Reading List.


  1. Another thing that I love is that you'll have the same responsorial psalm again next year and it might speak to you in a TOTALLY different way. Or a reading that never meant much will all of a sudden jump right into your heart. There's such wisdom and comfort in the cycles and predictability.

    1. I am a big fan of ritual and repetition, so I think I'll appreciate it as well.

  2. It is amazing how easily one can find a connection in church. Our minister often makes me cry the good tears. It is a bummer to not feel a part of communion but that does make it an easy exit! Our church allows anyone to take communion or a blessing for small children.