If there was one I could receive in
I was really struck by the beauty of this community. Maybe it’s a small-town thing, maybe it’s this small town’s thing, but this seems to be a really special place.
Take the music. Now, in Catholic practice, we sing the melody just as it appears in the Marty Haugen Songbook. 3 verses, 2 if the priest walks fast or, you know, Notre Dame’s on TV. Not only do Episcopalians sing every last word of each hymn, apparently in these parts they also sing harmony! (In fairness, the choir wasn’t formally singing Sunday; maybe they were planted in the congregation.)
(Sidebar: my singing voice appears to have started seizing up in church. Noticed it at Christmas and again Sunday. It seems to be normal in the house, streets, car, and shower, which should rule out physical causes. This leaves psychosomatic or supernatural issues. I’m not thrilled with either.)
Take also that at least 3 people walked up before the service to greet me, including the Assistant Rector / College Chaplain. (Who, genially, asked me if I wanted a quick rundown on how they do things. I hope he wasn’t offended when I said I thought it was “similar to Catholic” and that I could follow along.)
The whole congregation gets up and moves around during the sign of peace. This has always struck me as kind of fake in the past, but it seemed honest here. Undoubtedly a small-town thing, and quite possibly an effect of Christmastime travel, but it was refreshing.
Now, transubstantiation is still a dealbreaker for this Papist. Even though Episcopalians are happy to extend Eucharist to all baptized people, I don’t feel that I can accept. I did, however, go up to the altar to receive a blessing. It’s been a long time since someone put his hand on my head and said a prayer for me, that I be guided to see and do the right. It was deeply moving. Spiritually intimate. Worth stealing from your brother.
As Moe Szyslak says, “I was born a snake handler, and I’ll die a snake handler.” There’s a deep level on which I’m Catholic and that’s what I’ll stay. But it does seem that there’s something special, holy, happening in Harcourt Parish, and if it means I get into church when the other Catholics aren’t in town, I don’t suppose the Lord will mind too much seeing me there.