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Catechism this week

Last night's class was on Prayer and the Liturgy. I've written out a bunch about it, but left most of it at work. So tomorrow or over then next few days I'll be posting on one-on-one prayer, meditation (need to get my mandala icon made), and the Liturgy. I'm trying to relate the concepts from class to me and my experiences. I really ought to edit this more, but I also really need to practice my tap dance...

Thoughts on traditional prayers. Traditional prayers are the prewritten out prayers (Our Father, Hail Mary, etc.). From what I have experienced, the Catholic Church has many more of these than the Protestant churches I have attended. One of the things drawing me to Catholicism is the traditions. I did love the impromptu nature and spontaneity of the spirit-filled Charismatic’s, too. I like both. Still, there is such great solace in the traditions that it calls to me. In my mandolin lessons my instructor, Jimmy, would force me to improvise melodies while he did chord progressions. I remember the first time we did this he limited me to a single note, and I was just to vary the rhythm. It was painful! I wanted to know what to do. I kept thinking I was doing it wrong and there was some right thing I should be playing. Eventually we worked up to one string, then to all strings. Eventually I built up more complicated melodies, sliding into notes, twinkling. Eventually I built up my confidence and took more risks. Occasionally I even let go and forgot that there might be a right way, stopped worrying about hitting a wrong note, and really enjoyed just jamming away. In those few instances, maybe four times in my life, I truly felt a deep connection with my instructor, my mandolin, his guitar, our music. It was amazing. That was what the Charismatic church was for me. Sometimes I was uncomfortable, but those times when I felt the spirit moving, it was amazing, and I loved it. When Jimmy was not forcing me to improvise, we worked on traditional Celtic or jazz pieces. Jazz mandolin is a pretty cool sound. The notes are written out, so I knew what to hit and how long to hold it and how loudly to play it. I knew exactly what I should be doing and there was no fear of trying to figure out what to do next. When we practiced and worked on a piece, it sounded lovely. Then the beauty of the music could transport us, and the connection was there, as well, but in a different way. That is Methodism and Catholicism to me. That is also the difference between one-on-one (improvised) and traditional (recited) prayers. Just like in playing a traditional Celtic piece, in a traditional prayer you have a choice of letting your mind go into automatic pilot or of focusing on the melody/prayer and really feeling the meaning. If you go on autopilot, you do not always get the connection and you can easily lose your place, but at least you are still making music. Some days are rough and that’s all you can hope for. But if you are concentrating, and in the moment, the traditional piece can have a profound effect, and you can discover all sorts of layers of sound or meaning within those familiar notes and words. When you are feeling sad or scared, you can retreat to the safety and comfort of a song that has shored up not only yourself, but your ancestors. I find that thought beautiful. Also, like music, I discovered there is power in a group. Even if it is just Toaster on guitar and me on mandolin, it sounds better with both of us than alone. It doesn’t just double the sound when there are two of is, it’s exponential. Likewise with prayer, if you both know the words you can pray them together. It’s exponential.



Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host -
by the Divine Power of God -
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.

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Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
disbandedtoastr
Oct. 23rd, 2008 01:52 am (UTC)
That's one of my favorite prayers too.

There's a specific prayer you can say when you pass a graveyard too... I really like that one cuz it sounds kinda Irish/Celtic-ish but I can't remember it. I'll have to look it up again.
madladyred
Oct. 24th, 2008 01:08 am (UTC)
Oh, if you look it up, share it! It sounds beautiful.
lady_isabella
Oct. 23rd, 2008 02:36 am (UTC)
I've always loved studying different faiths around the world, because it gives me great perspective on my own religious tradition (Christian Science, a protestant faith that originated in the late 1800s). As I got into the SCA and was absorbing Spanish medieval culture, I learned a lot about Middle Ages Catholicism, but I was still pretty ignorant about post-Vatican II Catholicism. But now that I'm married to a "cradle Catholic" and supporting him in his devotions and working to learn more about the modern church. Very very fascinating!
madladyred
Oct. 24th, 2008 01:06 am (UTC)
my excited babbling...
Are you going through the RCIA classes or working on your own? I don't know much about the pre-Vatican II Catholicism, but I have a couple of books to go through eventually. Your experiences of learning via SCA sound pretty fascinating, too.

These catechism classes have been really interesting and a lot of fun. I'm doing this with an eye toward joining the church, but they don't care if anyone actually joins. They are happy for people just to learn about the church. I think it can make people more tolerant if they understand what others think and why. So whether I do join or not, I'm gaining a lot from the classes.

I'm actually very happy as a Methodist, but after I got married we moved to a different town. It's only about 30 or 35 minutes away, but I didn't want to drive back to my old church. My husband doesn't want to come with me to a local Methodist church, so I started going to disbandedtoastr's church so that I would have someone to sit with. I have gotten tired of not being able to take Communion, and I really do like the Catholic church, so I thought I would join as I'm happy going there.

I would love to take one of our Comparative Religions classes. I want to learn more about ones I have not been as exposed to, especially Eastern religions.

(I feel like a ninny posting these reviews, but I promised myself I would as way to force myself to think about class in between meetings.)
lady_isabella
Oct. 28th, 2008 01:18 am (UTC)
Re: my excited babbling...
I looked into doing RCIA, but since my object was not to convert to Catholicism but instead just educate myself on the doctrine, I decided not to follow that route. And then my mother-in-law pointed out another route that turned out to be just perfect for me: a "Womens' Apologetics" class that conveniently met in the morning on one of my days off from work. It's a group of ladies of various ages (20s through retirement age) who discuss various aspects of Catholic doctrine in a very academic manner. They have handouts, PowerPoints, they sometimes bring in guest speakers, very encouraging of dialogue on topics, good referencing/bibliographies for class notes, etc.

My mother-in-law warned me that on the whole, the group was on the conservative side of the Catholic spectrum, but that was fine for me -- I'm quite liberal myself, but I'm openminded on other peoples' opinions, particularly when it is about their own faith. But I found them highly welcoming, and they seemed to really appreciate my contributions.

At first, I did not tell them that I was not Catholic. I noted when I first joined the group that I was coming to their church for the first time because I was engaged (later married) to one of their parishioners, but I think they assumed that I must be Catholic because I was obviously very knowledgeable about early church traditions (this, of course, coming from my SCA focus on 13th century Spanish Catholicism and working at a 17th century Spanish Mission reconstruction!). It wasn't until much later in the first semester I was with them that they had a discussion on Catholic/Protestant doctrinal differences, and I told them that I was the token Protestant in their midst. ;) They were frankly amazed, but didn't chuck me out!

This group continues to be very supportive of me, and extremely enlightening as I grow in my knowledge of post-Vatican II Catholicism. And now that I'm "in the family way", I feel in a rather amused manner that I've succumbed to peer pressure with the group somehow -- quite a lot of the ladies in the group are either pregnant, just gave birth, or are mothers of kids of varying ages.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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