Saturday, March 10, 2012
The Ecumenical LOC and Me
As you know, we are in the middle of Lent. The LOC* is Catholic, while I am Protestant, so it makes for some interesting dining and dialogue during this season. (Lovable Old Coot*)
Not only are we from divergent backgrounds, we are what might be described as "doubly so" given that the LOC spent three and a half years in a preparatory seminary when he was a teen, planning to become a priest. At seventeen, he felt God speak to his heart one morning in chapel and came to the conclusion that he was not called to the priesthood. He subsequently left the seminary and His own father did not speak to him for quite a while, as a result of the family disappointment at his decision. I admire tremendously that he could be so forthright and clear in his convictions at such a young age.
I, on the other hand, spent twenty years a pastor's wife; and that phase of my life ended painfully and poorly. Thus you can see where we come to our own spiritual persuasions with a good deal of prior convictions. Neither of us believe in divorce, and yet we both are, and we have had to struggle with our place in the congregation of God's people as a result of that.
My own mother (a died-in-the-wool fundamental evangelical) was shocked when she learned I planned to marry a Catholic, but mellowed somewhat when she met him, saying cryptically, "Well, he certainly is good-looking." I couldn't see what that had to do with anything, but Mom's logic often escaped me.
Still, we have been married for over twenty three years, and we have come to have a lot of respect for each other's traditions.
I am glad to eat fish with him on Fridays during Lent, and we have found a little cafe near home where they serve a wonderful batter-fried cod. It must be really good since I don't ordinarily like fish very much.
The LOC, however grew up in the Bay Area near San Francisco, and loves nearly any type of seafood, including lots of shell fish. Oysters, clams, crab, etc. tend to make me gag. Sorry, but they just do. So when we go to a "surf and turf" place, he does surf and I eat turf.
Today our own little ecumenical efforts go a bit further. This evening we will attend his Saturday evening mass. Tomorrow morning he is going with me to the church I attend. We don't do this often, but when we do, we always come away with something new to talk about. It surprises and amuses me how much of our protestant music has been incorporated into Catholic services in recent years.
It continues to puzzle the LOC that Protestants regard the communion elements as "symbolic" whereas I cannot accept the doctrine of transubstantiation, wherein Catholics believe the body and blood of Christ are actually present in the Eucharist. I am looking forward to having Jesus straighten all this out for us when we get to heaven. Meanwhile, we have agreed to disagree.
Right now, however, he is down at my own church, participating in a free computer clinic. He loves that stuff, and a couple of men from my new congregation (we only moved here recently) stopped by to welcome me as new attendee. The LOC enjoyed meeting them, and praying with them (even though I was not home at the time) and he received an invitation to this computer thingy, which he happily accepted.
The Lord does, indeed, work in mysterious ways. What the LOC and I try to keep in mind at all times is that we are both Christians and that is paramount. The rest is tradition, theology, and interpretation. Important issues to be sure, but not as important as "And the greatest of these is love." That is the most important hallmark of a believer and we are reminded during this Lenten season of how great the love is that God extended toward us through the sacrifice of his son.
May we be gentle with one another in our differences, and steadfast in our shared faith. Hope your Lenten observations and your family are blessed this week. Until next time ... Marsha