Recently, thanks to the invitation of a good friend, I had the opportunity to attend a Catholic Church service for the first time in my life. I’ve been to weddings before that were held in a Catholic Church building, but that’s not the same. It both was and wasn’t what I expected. Lemme ‘splain…
First, it was very ritualistic. All jokes aside about how ritualistic Catholics are, the service was very much so. But I don’t mean that in a negative way; it’s just they do things just so. In fact, when I think about the Southern Baptist services I attend and have attended over the years, they’re almost ritualistic, too. We’re more informal about it, but we do the SAME thing week in and week out. If that isn’t “ritual,” I don’t know what is.
I expected to see the congregation at the Catholic Church a bit more dressed up than my church…but I guess down this way everyone attends church in “Florida casual.” Even at my church, it still feels awkward to me as I was raised to put on my “Sunday best” for church. The Catholic priests dressed far better than my own Baptist preacher, who often wears blue jeans with his shirt untucked.
The message by the priest was shorter than any Baptist preacher I’ve ever heard. It was short, but just as hard hitting and he pulled no punches (he talked about abortion!). While I much prefer our preaching; the Catholic message was poignant, just short. Our preacher comes across more as a teacher/lecturer. I quite like our pastor because he also doesn’t shy away from the tough subjects.
The biggest difference—and it was a stark difference, one I wouldn’t have even thought about had I not attended the service—is the reverential atmosphere at the Catholic Church. It felt like worship. Heck, in my church, the music often come across as a performance; our “worship band” actually uses dry ice to fog up the stage and 1980s style light rigs. I often feel like I’m at a rock concert (and I went to plenty of those in my younger days) and want to hold a lighter up over my head. They tell us to sing along with them and then blind me with lights in my eyes. Half of the time I have to sing “watermelon, watermelon” because I don’t know the words and then I can’t even see the screen to read them! (Okay, “half” may be an exaggeration, but you get what I’m saying) And when I can see the lead singer—I mean, the worship leader—he’s dressed for a concert, even wearing a hat in the sanctuary. I don’t know about you, but my mama taught me that you were to never wear a hat inside a building, and you sure as shooting don’t wear one in the house of God. Our lead singer should have been informed by the pastor (or at least one of the crew of them) that he can wear his stage vests, but he needs to take off the hat while performing in the sanctuary. More times that not, this video springs to mind when our worship band plays.
(in a note of fairness, and because probably one or two of my church pals may read this, the worship leader mentioned above is no longer at our church and the new one does not wear a hat)
All in all, my experience in the Catholic worship was a very positive and I’m thankful that my good pal, Doug Texter, invited me and my family to attend with him. I should have said “no,” though…because after I visited with him, he up and moved to a different state! 🙂