“Say the black, do the red” In other words, stick to the entire liturgy. Not only say what you’re supposed to say, but do what you’re supposed to do. I don’t. I say the black and do the yellow, for cowardice.
Only two Sundays ago I began saying the entire liturgy. Before that, I had skipped the confiteor and the creed. I couldn’t in good conscience ask the “blessed Mary, ever virgin” to pray for me if I wasn’t convinced of her perpetual virginity. Neither could I confess a belief in the “one, holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church” when I couldn’t say for sure if the Catholic Church was Christ’s church. Those following my blog may have read my recent posts on Mary and Tradition. After looking into these two “problems”, I am convinced to the point of being able to profess belief in them, but it wasn’t easy.
Every step I have made on the road of accepting Catholicism has been deliberate and painful. It’s almost a year ago now that I started crossing myself. I labored over this small expression so much that I can remember exactly when and how I started. During the Good Friday mass, I surreptitiously crossed myself, hoping nobody would notice in case I did something wrong like holding my fingers weird. Nobody did notice, not even Chris. It was about a month later that I told him I was doing it, and he still hadn’t noticed.
Our old parish had a rather large Hispanic sub-community and a separate Spanish mass. There were a couple catechists in RCIA that we spent a little time with. I hope nobody takes this the wrong way, but I’ve always envied the ease with which the Hispanics of my acquaintance do these things. They cross themselves and kiss their crucifix and leave it for others to accept them the way they are. It’s beautiful. I wish I could do that.
So what is my problem? It feels weird. I have a naturally self-conscious nature, so it’s hard for me to get over feeling like I’m on display. I know that in reality nobody is paying attention to me, but I have an unnatural fear that someone will glance my way when I muddle up the gestures for lack of experience. It feels like there’s a floating neon sign above my head that says, “This one’s a Protestant!!! She’s not supposed to be doing this. Stop her!” So I still don’t genuflect or kneel or even cross myself with holy water at the entrance. Two extremely wiggly little children give me ample excuse to skip these things, and even prevent me from following through on a resolve to begin a gesture from time to time. Somehow, though, I feel like I’m cheating. My excuses are dwindling and I’m left only with my fear of a new thing.
I know I’m making a big deal out of nothing. These gestures are an outward expression of our inward prayerfulness. They give God honor that is due Him. I want to give these things to Him. I could just do it, but this is how hard it can be to change. I was raised to be suspicious of all things Catholic and apparently that doesn’t disappear with just knowledge to the contrary. Once I build up the courage to say the black and do the red, I wonder how long it will take me to be comfortable and feel at home with it, or if I ever can.