Sister Courtney

Catholic, I am. Practicing, I am not. Until recently that is. My sister is pregnant, and naturally I am the godmother of my unborn niece. A requirement of this duty, beyond being an active part of the child's life and giving her lots of money for college, is that I obtain a letter from my parish stating that I am in fact a practicing Catholic.

Great. Admittedly I looked for loophole, a way to work around this. I found none. But it was more my guilty conscience (told you I was Catholic) preventing me from succeeding than anything else. So I did what I was supposed to--I went to church.

My boyfriend was kind enough to go with me, because, yes, I was afraid. Very afraid. When we arrived, I sat in the back of the church.  However, being the naturally curious and engaged man that he is, he wanted to sit up front - like 5 pews from the altar. "As long we're doing this, let's do it right" is what he said.

Right? I was doing it right, according to my family church practices. This is what my father would do when we were kids so we could escape after communion and"beat the crowd". I think he was just fearful for his unholy self in the presence of Catholic Angry God for too long.

So we did. And I was terrified. Not an exaggeration. I think I actually cried a little. I felt the eyes of Jesus on the Cross boring into me, judging, for having been a bad Catholic. I felt the eyes of the Parishioner's behind me drilling holes in the back of my head. Naturally they knew I hadn't been to mass since Reagan was President.  But most of all I felt scared to death that I wouldn't remember the Catholic dance -- sit, stand, kneel -- and there were not enough people in front of me that I could follow to fake it.

Then mass started. Like riding a bike, immediately I knew the responses, the  words, the motions, the feeling. Then I actually started to like it. Yes, I did. Church can be comforting when going of one's free will and not forced because you're seven or it's some major holiday (that miserable girl was in the pew across from me with her 12 siblings because he parents don't believe in birth control).

I mean, what's better than being forgiven of all of your sins in the first ten minutes of a mass, just like that? We Catholics do it right. I started to relax, participate, and appreciate it. Until I had to take communion, that was my last hurdle. I literally shook as I walked up the aisle because again, Father was going to know. I  stood strong, looked him right in the eye, took my stale, blessed bread, and exhaled. But there was no way I was drinking out of the community cup--H1N1 you know.

I never thought going to mass would be so traumatic for me. I surely never thought I would, all in all, enjoy it. In the end, I felt great about doing it--for myself and my niece--and I know I will go again and not just because it's a requirement.

Imagine that. God works in Mysterious Ways (not Bono, although he thinks he's God).


  1. I can totally relate to your experience. When Dave was about to receive his Comfirmation (1985?), I needed to obtain a letter from "the Church" and obviously needed to reaquaint myself with God. Shocked to learn that Communion was given in the hand, that had me terrified.


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