Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Why Can't I Find My Place in the Church?

I briefly mention this topic in the last post because it's been a major stumbling block on my quest to attend Mass more often to keep myself from becoming apathetic towards the Church. Again, I'm going to add the disclaimer that I may mention people (not by name, of course) but I'm not blaming them.

Since last year, I've been trying to attend more Latin Masses because it's where I feel more connected to God and more at peace. I'm fairly positive that if I counted, I'll see that I've been to more Extraordinary Form Masses than Ordinary Form Masses in the past year. I've been veiling (or, at the very least, keeping my head covered with berets and hats) for years. In fact, the last gift my father gave me (not counting the ultimate gift of his return to the Church the day before my 24th birthday) was a veil from Mexico... 8 years ago. I obviously started veiling before that so, you know, I'm not new at this. lol.

I love the reverence of the Latin Mass. I love that we all seem to be more focused on the Holy Sacrifice than in Ordinary Form Masses. I know some people's spiritual lives thrive more with the inclusion of the entire community during OF Masses (i.e. holding hands during the Lord's Prayer and the sign of peace) but it's not for me. I wasn't a fan even when I was a little girl. You can even ask my mom and she'll confirm it for you. I don't like how it seems to disrupt the focus (and purpose) of the Mass and it makes it easier for people to get distracted for the rest of the Mass. I've always loved focusing on what the priest was doing; on how he was celebrating Mass and feeling that I was a part of something greater than myself. This also started way before I even did my First Communion when I was 8. I love the significance of veiling and, on a more practical level, I love that the veil literally blocks all distractions within my peripheral vision and it helps me keep my eyes on the altar.

Latin Mass is the answer to my prayers... except that I still get lost during the Mass. lol. I have yet to buy myself a missal because they're expensive and I have a lot of expenses every week. L.A. is an expensive city to live in and we mostly live paycheck to paycheck so I have to save up for things that are not immediate necessities. I'm guessing that my being fluent in Spanish makes it a little easier to follow along but I still get hopelessly lost at times. Don't get me started on how I botch up Latin because my brain automatically switches to the Spanish pronunciation of letters and words. lol. I'm still getting used to it and I think I simply need to attend more Masses (and have a really, really patient person explain things to me) before I'm completely comfortable going to them.

Now, I'm not saying Ordinary Form Masses are terrible. It's what I grew up attending. I was baptized, made my First Communion, and was confirmed (in that order) in OF Masses. It's familiar and I can follow along because it's in a language I understand (for both English and Spanish Masses). I know many wonderful, holy priests who don't do Extraordinary Form Masses and their homilies are top notch. Still, overall, most OF Masses are not my cup of tea. I've been to some solemn OF Masses but there are always elements of this form that I'm not thrilled with. As I've mentioned, I'm not a fan of the hand-holding or the sign of peace. The music is... well, also not my cup of tea. I'm really sorry, music ministers, but once the guitar, bass, and/or drums get introduced, my focus and concentration are gone because it makes me feel like I'm at a concert or show rather than a Mass. Again, this is just what it seems to me. I know it helps other people but it distracts me more than it helps me personally. Don't even get me started on when they start projecting things on the sides of the altar or the clapping people do during Mass. To quote my beloved Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, "Wherever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment."

During my struggle with spiritual dryness/spiritual attacks, I noticed that I felt like I couldn't (and still can't) find "my place" with the Church... including with Masses. As you could probably deduce from this post, I prefer Latin Masses. However, not being able to follow doesn't help and sometimes I get really self-conscious asking someone for help because, well, I've had a bad experience with people who attend Latin Masses. I've gotten the "ugh, what a stupid question" vibe when questions do get asked and, let's be real, no one wants to feel like a total dunce. I've also gotten the "ugh, you're doing it wrong" vibe when I try to figure things out. Not everyone is like this, of course. I've met some really lovely people within the local Latin Mass community but I've yet to really get to know them well so I don't feel part of it. I obviously feel a greater sense of community at OF Masses. Not counting the judgmental looks when I've received when veiling, people tend to be more welcoming and, in my experience, are easier to get to know. That's one of the things I miss most of our former parish; knowing the people and being able to talk to them before and after Mass. I don't go to Mass to socialize, obviously, but it would be nice to know some of the people and know that you're surrounded by like-minded folks.

I love veiling and the Latin Mass - *gasp* too traditional! I prefer wearing skirts and dresses but I still like the comfort and, as someone who is active and grew up playing sports, like the coverage pants and shorts provide - *gasp* what an immodesty! Some people assume that I'm single because, like many of my Millennial peers, I like my independence and am too career oriented - *gasp* too modern! When they find out I'd prefer to be a stay-at-home mom and homeschool my future kids - *gasp* too traditional and anti-feminist to boot! I'm still single not because I want to be but because it seems to be God's will for me at the moment. It's not get started on my taste in music and films because it gets worse; I'm either too traditional/too much of a prude or too modern/liberal for that, too!

My point in all of this is that, despite the advantages and disadvantages of both, I feel like I haven't found my place in the Church. When you add the fact that I'm a single 32-year-old young woman with zero prospects (despite feeling calling to marriage) and that there seems to be no solid support system for us over-25 singles within either community, I feel like I'm on the outskirts of the Church. Why isn't there something for us singles who are in this stage of life because it's clearly not our time yet and not because we've actively chosen it? It would help us to have some sort of support.

I can't win, even though I really don't want to "win" anything. My goal is to get to heaven and help those God have placed in my life do the same thing. As I mentioned in the previous post, I'm very much a people person and feeling like I can't find a community to which I belong makes me feel dejected and, in turn, it makes it harder for me to nourish my spiritual life. Yes, I'm still very much an introvert but I'm also a social being (hence my saying that I'm a social introvert; it's an actual thing if you want to Google it if you don't believe me). I guess I just need to find that happy medium -- preferably a community that likes attending Latin Masses but won't judge me for occasionally wearing pants and shorts, liking the things I do, and that would be to pray for me (and other over-25 singles) as I wait for the next phase of my life to begin. Does such a community exist?

This post was just scratching the surface. There are so many layers that I didn't get into because we would be here all day. Again, I'm not blaming people for my feeling like I'm on the fringes of the Church and like I can't find a solid community in which I can feel like I belong. It's just my own thing that I have to work through this summer. It hasn't helped that I've spent the last 5 years (or longer if you count the years in which my anxiety was so bad that I couldn't leave the house) sick and that it's made it harder for me to try to socialize or get to Masses that don't make me cringe. We also don't live in a great neighborhood so I try to be home before it gets too dark and most of the socializing events happen late, especially after the 7 p.m. Latin Mass on Sundays. If there was a Latin Mass that both Mom and I could attend on Sundays that wasn't so late, it would be easier and perhaps I could find more likeminded people. Before you locals suggest it, no, we can't make it to the 10 a.m. Mass at St. Felipe or the noon Mass at St. Therese because Mom works on Sundays until after both Masses are over and all other Masses are too far for me to drive (I don't ever drive on the freeways).

If you're feeling particularly charitable today, please feel free to donate to the FSSP LA building fund so that they can get their parish quicker and more Latin Masses can be offered throughout the day. People like me, with limited transportation and other options, that love Latin Masses would appreciate it. The priests are fantastic and I have a feeling they'll help establish a great community that is very much needed in L.A.

Alright, that's it for now. It's already 97 degrees at 25 minutes to 1 p.m. and my hands and feet are already suffering from being in hottest part of our apartment (my home office is west-facing with no shade from anything). I hope those of you who will be in cities/towns over 85 degrees stay cool!

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D

 

17 comments:

Farm Lassie said...

I'm also not a big fan of the Ordinary Form of the Mass (mostly because of the liturgical and sacrilegious abuses that go on during it). I also love the FSSP, and wish they had a lot more Masses where I'm at.

But to give you hope: there are some traditional communities that are more lenient towards women's attitudes about dress, vocation, etc. It isn't so much the priest as it is the people themselves (though most certainly the priest attitudes have some weight to them).

One way that I found my place in the Church is to help take care of the linens and vestments (ironing, mending, etc.). See if there is an Altar Rosary Society that you can get yourself involved in. Most of those only meet once a month or so.

Farm Lassie
frugallyfancyfarmlass.blogspot.com

EAW said...

Don't give up pursuing tradition. The grace of God is moving and you need to see where He want to lead you. It is a process.

AnneMarie said...

Kindred spirit! I am not a fan of the Sign of Peace, either! I think it's pretty distracting, at least the way that many people behave during it. And the hand-holding is not something that I appreciate, either. It just doesn't make sense to do that because our unity is already expressed in the prayer, but most Catholics aren't taught about the liturgy in-depth, so they don't know those things through no fault of their own. Ugh.

I really hope that you find your niche! I love the Extraordinary Form, but I have also noticed that-while there are some very friendly, welcoming people who attend EF Masses-by and large, people seem more...closed off? Not overly hospitable? Something like that.

Emmy Cecilia said...

That's a great idea, Farm Lassie! I'd never heard of the Altar Rosary Society before.

Emmy Cecilia said...

Thank you.

Emmy Cecilia said...

Definitely kindred spirits, AnneMarie! Also, glad I'm not the only one who has had the experience of feeling like the people seem to be a little more closed off than the other communities. I totally know/get what you mean.

Marie F said...

Emmy, I had a conversion experience just after turning 22 and began attending the Traditional Mass right away. I was single then and still am (but I know celibacy is my vocation).

I would recommend spending as much time as possible at the EF -- and don't worry about the nonsense of whether you are following or not, or whether people are nice or not....."seek first the Kingdom of God and His justice, and all else will be given you besides..." The EF is a deeply sanctifying liturgy and your soul will benefit greatly....put the more human concerns aside right now.

The lack of a social life or marriage in your immediate future or the EF environment, or the Church as a whole is actually an opportunity to SINK YOUR ROOTS into God before too much else comes along to distract you and get in the way.

A plant needs to be firmly rooted before it is strengthened enough for the storms of life (and marriage in this day and age requires heroism)....

Use this time to immerse yourself in spiritual reading (pre-Vatican II classics) and prayer.... This will illumine your soul to understand better where God is leading and equip you to follow as you learn to hear His "voice" and follow the promptings of grace.

Also consider joining a Traditional Third Order (like the Carmelites). If you cannot find one nearby, try to apply to one as an isolate. There is one in NJ. The norms of the Third Order will provide a structure and a sense of belonging to something that will accompany you and vice versa.

Do not be discouraged...discouragement comes from not being fully connected to God as yet, so you can hear what He is saying/guiding -- Without that, it is easy to feel rudderless. So make that a priority....God is giving you space right now so you can use it to deepen your relationship with Him first and foremost.

I will pray for you and commend you to the Heart of Mary...oh, and DO make the St Louis de Montfort Consecration to Jesus through Mary if you haven't done so as yet -- it will work miracles in your life!

God bless!

Marie F said...

Emmy, I had a conversion experience just after turning 22 and began attending the Traditional Mass right away. I was single then and still am (but I know celibacy is my vocation).

I would recommend spending as much time as possible at the EF -- and don't worry about the nonsense of whether you are following or not, or whether people are nice or not....."seek first the Kingdom of God and His justice, and all else will be given you besides..." The EF is a deeply sanctifying liturgy and your soul will benefit greatly....put the more human concerns aside right now.

The lack of a social life or marriage in your immediate future or the EF environment, or the Church as a whole is actually an opportunity to SINK YOUR ROOTS into God before too much else comes along to distract you and get in the way.

A plant needs to be firmly rooted before it is strengthened enough for the storms of life (and marriage in this day and age requires heroism)....

Use this time to immerse yourself in spiritual reading (pre-Vatican II classics) and prayer.... This will illumine your soul to understand better where God is leading and equip you to follow as you learn to hear His "voice" and follow the promptings of grace.

Also consider joining a Traditional Third Order (like the Carmelites). If you cannot find one nearby, try to apply to one as an isolate. There is one in NJ. The norms of the Third Order will provide a structure and a sense of belonging to something that will accompany you and vice versa.

Do not be discouraged...discouragement comes from not being fully connected to God as yet, so you can hear what He is saying/guiding -- Without that, it is easy to feel rudderless. So make that a priority....God is giving you space right now so you can use it to deepen your relationship with Him first and foremost.

I will pray for you and commend you to the Heart of Mary...oh, and DO make the St Louis de Montfort Consecration to Jesus through Mary if you haven't done so as yet -- it will work miracles in your life!

God bless!

Emmy Cecilia said...

Thanks for all your lovely, useful advice, Marie! I'm actually going back and forth between becoming a third order Dominican and a Benedictine Oblate. I hope to find a priest to help me with some spiritual direction.

Marie F said...

Emmy, God will provide everything....He already has a plan and will guide you gently to the path He has destined for your spiritual perfection. He even has a spiritual director in mind for you when the time is right.

I found that early in my spiritual life God provided "human" spiritual direction only sparingly, because HE -- knowing my soul as no human being truly can -- wanted to guide me in the depths of my soul. As much as I wanted the consolation of priestly direction, it was not often there until later in my spiritual life when very important decisions and transitions had to made.

God is the Spiritual Director par excellence and He wants us to be attached to Him, more than to human instruments, which can hobble us if we become too humanly reliant upon them without allowing the action of grace to illumine and guide us as well.

In the early years of my conversion, it was in the depths of prayer that God fed and directed me, through spiritual reading, meditation, examination of conscience, daily attendance at Mass to be nourished by the Blessed Sacrament, Devotion to Mary, etc.

Saint Louis de Monfort's Consecration to Jesus through Mary opened the floodgates of grace for me and my family. Our Lady is truly the fount of grace and the conduit of all God's gifts....as the best of mothers.

The writings of Saint Francis de Sales, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, the Autobiography of Saint Therese of Lisieux, Tanqueray's Classic The Spiritual Life, and Garrigou Lagrange's Three Ages of the Interior Life are all excellent foundational material for a soul who desires spiritual growth and a profound union with God.

I commend you to the loving Heart of Mary and will keep you in my Rosary intentions.

Emmy Cecilia said...

Marie,

I'll look into those book suggestions. St. Francis de Sales came up a lot during Lent (and I'm still trying to get through this Introduction to the Devout Life) and a friend (Discalced Carmelite friar-to-be) suggested I read St. Teresa of Avila's The Way to Perfection which I (thankfully) own but have yet to begin reading.

Thank you for your prayers!

God bless!

Tradne4163 said...

Hey, if you need a missal, I may be able to give you one. I have a few laying around (and one I misplaced that I'm searching for). Let me know. :)

NIdahoCatholic said...

Miss Cecilia,

You might consider moving to an FSSP parish that is full time - no sharing with a Novus Ordo community. St Joan of Arc in North Idaho is chock full of young (and not so young) folks who are very warm and welcoming of newcomers. Come on up and check us out!

Emmy Cecilia said...

Thanks and God bless you, Marie!!

Emmy Cecilia said...

I'll take you up on the offer if I know you in person. lol.

Emmy Cecilia said...

If only things were as easy and packing up and moving to a place where there's a good parish community. Thank you for the suggestion though. :)

Tradne4163 said...

Nope. Just happened to come across this blog and saw that you could use one. And I have a good one to spare that I don't use all that much. It's understandable if you'd rather not take the offer from a stranger. God bless.