If I don’t make it back.…

Monastery entranceTomor­row Julie and I are going on an all-day Lenten retreat at a Carmelite Monastery on Old York Road in Philadel­phia. She’s giv­en me creedal cheat sheets in case I feel led to read along, as I have to fake it on any­thing past the The Lord’s Prayer.
The monastery has forty-foot tall stone walls all around and is locat­ed a few blocks from where I grew up (pic­ture cour­tesy the “monastery’s organist’s webpage”:http://home.att.net/~lucycarroll/page5.html) and it was a place of some intrigue. When­ev­er we would dri­ve by I’d press my face against the car win­dows think­ing maybe I’d catch a glimpse of a nun swing­ing her­self over the wall in an escape attempt. Need­less to say I wasn’t brought up Catholic or even Catholic-friendly and so didn’t real­ize how ridicu­lous this imag­in­ing of mine was. Still, I’ve prob­a­bly nev­er passed the monastery as an adult with­out tak­ing a quick peek at those walls. In twelve hours I enter them myself!
Julie’s gone on the retreat a num­ber of times (it’s usu­al­ly women-only) and has always been released to my con­nu­bial arms at end’s day. Still, just in case some­thing hap­pens, y’all know where to look! The kids are going to be with Julie’s sis­ter and their cousin and should have a good time.

  • Retreat New­bie! kool. You know about the haz­ing right?
    And don’t for­get that Holy Water burns the throats of sin­ners!
    Hey, but actu­al­ly I lock myself in a Bene­dicten Con­vent every month for 24 hours plus an hour of spir­i­tu­al direc­tion with a dear but tough old sis­ter.
    It’s like spinich for the soul
    Keeps me strong to the ‘finich’
    have fun!
    Peg

  • Catholi­cism isn’t all that much dif­fer­ent from Quak­erism. Quak­ers use the silence as an emp­ty ves­sel. Catholics use rit­u­al as an emp­ty ves­sel. Both have the idea of let­ting things pour in.
    You’ll be fine. The Inqui­si­tion was over, last time I checked!

  • Hi Peg­gy & Nan­cy,
    Well I have gone on retreats with Julie before, natch. And the logis­tics of squirmy kids, far-away meet­ing­hous­es and our mixed spir­i­tu­al mar­riage means I actu­al­ly spend more time in a Catholic Church than any Friends Meet­ing­house (as luck would have it her church is mov­ing Sun­day morn­ing mass up half an hour after Lent which makes a church/meetinghouse com­bo logis­ti­cal­ly pos­si­ble). I’m com­fort­able enough in a Catholic set­ting and have fig­ured out my own bal­ance between acknowl­edg­ing the impor­tance mem­bers give the rit­u­al while acknowl­edg­ing my own dis­agree­ment with the need for rit­u­al.
    The dif­fer­ence with this retreat is that it was THAT con­vent with THOSE walls remem­bered so vivid­ly from my long-gone youthe (for­ti­eth birth­day in fif­teen days but who’s count­ing?).
    And just in its defense and our defense (and so Julie doesn’t read this and won­der why I didn’t say it!), while there are a lot of inter­est­ing com­mon­al­i­ty between Catholi­cism and Quak­erism, they are indeed very dif­fer­ent. Look, I’m a tra­di­tion­al­ist Quak­er mar­ried to a tra­di­tion­al­ist Catholic: the tra­di­tions share an insis­tence on the very real pres­ence of Christ in our wor­ship and I’ve often won­dered if its total­ly coin­ci­dence that Quak­erism grew up in a part of Eng­land known for being a Catholic strong­hold. But the creeds, rit­u­als, poli­ty, etc., sep­a­rates our denom­i­na­tions. It’s more than just style.

  • Cal­ista

    After first read­ing about your mixed evan­gel­i­cal union I won­dered how you dealt with the dif­fer­ences in spir­i­tu­al approach. My hus­band was raised with a Chris­t­ian emphasis;I was raised with a Pres­by­ter­ian influence,but switched to Friends when I was 15 after expe­ri­enc­ing oth­er church­es and wor­ship ser­vices.
    Through my edu­ca­tion, upbring­ing, and Quak­er influ­ence I have learned to respect all forms of wor­ship and real­ize that peo­ple are drawn to spe­cif­ic doc­trines because of their upbring­ing or the specifics of that reli­gion that answers their own needs.
    I am assum­ing that your wife hon­ors the dif­fer­ences in your wor­ship to her’s and vice ver­sa. If not how do you deal with it? I find it hard to fight annoy­ance when I stand up against opin­ions of hatred, vio­lence, and igno­rance and usu­al­ly just end up clos­ing my mouth and mak­ing small, pos­si­bly grum­bling sounds. Many don’t under­stand this is a moral and spir­i­tu­al stance for me, but expect me to hon­or their reli­gious prac­tices.

  • Hi Cal­ista, I’m afraid I don’t quite know what you mean – small, pos­si­bly grum­bling sounds as a type of spir­i­tu­al prac­tice?
    I’ve afraid that I’ve seen as much igno­rance and small-mindedness among Friends as any­where else. We’re prone to a pecu­liar pride that sim­ply makes it more sad­ly iron­ic. Jesus instruct­ed us that we should “wor­ry about our own trou­bles before judg­ing oth­ers”:http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%207%20;&version=9. There are times we must con­front big­otry but we have to take great care that we’re not con­fronting oth­ers sim­ply to make our­selves feel bet­ter. A lot of activism is mis­placed pride, an inef­fec­tive agent of change.
    About hon­or­ing: I find I often feel a strong kin­ship with peo­ple who are com­mit­ted to God and seri­ous about their spir­i­tu­al con­di­tion. The retreat was cer­tain­ly “gath­ered” in the Quak­er sense through­out much of the day. My wife spent eleven years among Friends (includ­ing aca­d­e­m­ic study) and often has insight­ful com­men­tary. We’re both open-eyed about the prob­lem areas of our reli­gious tra­di­tions but thick-skinned enough to keep from the snares of cyn­i­cism. Some­how it works.

  • Mar­tin,
    Thank you for your com­ments, and thank you for shar­ing. By small, pos­si­bly grum­bling sounds — I meant that instead of voic­ing my opin­ion or oppo­si­tion I grum­ble, rather low­ly to myself and move on. Espe­cial­ly if my opin­ion is already known. I may get frus­trat­ed by I don’t have to have the futile last word.
    Exam­ple, I work with a man who is Sev­enth Day, I have much respect for his belief, devo­tion, and his prac­tices. But he will give me the fifth degree when I voice my oppo­si­tion to the war, any war, but of course right now this war. I usu­al­ly will turn around, walk away, grumbling…shhhh very qui­et­ly.
    Thank you for your insights, your thoughts, your con­sid­er­a­tions, and your shar­ing.