So I went to what I thought was the Earth Based chapel event where I’m stationed…yeah…apparently the program I was looking at outdated because I ended up in a Catholic Mass. I wasn’t raised Catholic, I know very little of the protocol of mass, and it didn’t seem respectful to leave once I figured out what was going on. Trust me the irony of the entire situation is not lost on me that the Catholic service took place of when the Earth Based event was supposed to be.
It was incredibly embarrassing, but I’ve always found the power of the Catholic Mass beautiful so it’s something I wanted to experience again since I did enjoy them when I was younger. I just wanted to go into it realizing what was about to happen. Maybe next time I will actually find the Earth Based group I was looking for. Maybe it was divine intervention that I ended up at the “wrong” service.
There are a things that I would suggest if you find yourself in a similar situation or if you go there for another occasion (i.e. family or friends invite you).
Calm down. If you’re like me you may feel a little uneasy not being familiar with the protocol. Just let it be what it is. Remember that they’re more afraid of a witch being at church than the witch is of finding God in life.
Listen to the message. Sometimes when we are on this path as Christo-Pagans, or even with Pagans who may be reading this, we tend to not listen to the teachings of the church because we have different views from it. Out of respect for the Priest’s time and energy that he put into creating the service, whatever is in the message itself that does agree with you, and even the stuff that doesn’t, listen to it all. Take what resonates with you, meditate on what doesn’t, and know why each does or doesn’t resonate with you.
Embrace the beauty around you. Every religion out there has certain beauties entangled into its teachings. Notice the architecture if you’re in one of those older cathedrals. Notice the care and attention to detail in the stonework, stained glass, or artwork. Even the care and detail of the cross that is hanging. The dedication and meditation that went into these forms of artwork can be particularly inspiring to anyone not just Catholics.
Allow yourself to be open. Be welcoming to the people around you. Feel the sense of community. Sing the joyous hymns (if it is comfortable for you to do so). Simply allow yourself to be open to what the divine has to share with you even if you’re surrounded by people who may not know who or what you are.
Respect the customs to the best of your ability. If they kneel then kneel with them if you can physically do so. If they pray then bow you head and meditate. Certainly don’t do something that you’re not comfortable with. For me there are certain parts of the Catholic version of Apostles’ Creed that I don’t know if I entirely agree with, so I simply respectfully declined to say it. I was once told that you can only take communion in a Catholic Church if you went through the classes. Since I never went through those classes I respectfully obstained from partaking in the communion.
Hopefully my next journey to the chapel won’t take me by surprise. But this type of surprise ended up being an enjoyable experience overall.