I wasn't going to do it. It hasn't even been a year! I was quite enjoying my Catholic Anonymity. I only started volunteering in Jack's Sunday School class because I was specifically asked and it was short term and not a big deal and getting in good with the faith formation director was a benefit (First Communion next year! omg!)
But there are two things I'm interested in; one I've known about for a while and one that just popped up in the bulletin this Sunday.
The one that just popped up is the easier one to write about - it's helping with marriage prep. We "helped" a few times with marriage prep at our old church. There it meant joining one of the classes one night and sharing about the night's particular topic. I think we did finances once and the "families of origin" topic once. (That's a good one!) Anyway, I don't think we're so great at sitting in a group and talking about ourselves. I mean, I could talk a blue streak about myself, but I wouldn't say that I am INTERESTING or HELPFUL or ON TOPIC. And I am especially rotten at facilitating group discussion. So I never really wanted to do that again, although I did very much like the idea of getting involved with engaged couples.
Anyway, in the bulletin this week they asked for volunteer married couples for several different aspects of their way-more-involved marriage prep program. They were looking for people to lead the group discussions on the various topics BUT ALSO they were looking for NFP teachers (HA HA HA HA) AND they were looking for people to review FOCCUS questionnaires with the couples. So! If you haven't gotten married in the Catholic church in the recent past, a FOCCUS questionnaire is basically a big scantron test all about YOU. I thought it was quite fun. The not fun part is when you have to compare YOUR scantron to your betrothed's and sit in a little room with the priest while he says "errr, it looks like you two have very different perspectives on financial matters - have you talked about that?!" Basically it's a tool to help couples talk about the big stuff, just in case they haven't. But how THIS church does it is by training already married couples to walk through the results with an engaged couple, usually at the married couple's house, possibly over wine and snacks. I know that probably sounds tense and horrible to a lot of you, but to me it sounds FUN. I LOVE THAT STUFF. LET'S TALK ABOUT PERSONALITIES! WOO! And at my house? Like a little mini party? I AM IN.
So I talked Phillip into it and emailed the coordinator and she's going to meet with us and get us trained and omg we are getting INVOLVED ACK.
(Hey, at least it's not a committee, right? I AM OVER COMMITTEES.)
Okay, so the second thing. I kind of want to know what you all think about this. I think it's good. All my real life people think it's good. But I still want to write it out here and see what I think. SO.
This new church often mentions a prayer team in its bulletin, usually in relation to a special Mass of some type. Lots of churches, even if they aren't especially touchy feely do Healing Masses, and I often see "prayer teams will be present to help those with special prayer needs, be they physical, emotional, or spiritual" attached to these notices. And I can't help myself. I AM INTRIGUED. I have never seen this in another church's bulletin. Ever. Granted I have sampled a very small number of Catholic churches, but this type of language - "prayer team" - is completely unfamiliar to me in a Catholic setting.
I have thought off and on about emailing the contact person and just saying hey, praying groups is my jam, can I come hang out? But I haven't. My reasons are:
1. I am busy. And I am new. And I like being anonymous.
2. Every time I have tried to get involved with a prayer thing in a Catholic setting, it is not at all what I'm looking for. Every time. Never what I'm looking for.
3. Discovering that always feels SO disappointing. I don't like feeling disappointed.
So I've kind of put it off. A maybe one day thing. But then the following was in this Sunday's bulletin. I am going to type out the whole thing because it sounds SO. AWESOME.
"A Message on Mercy Night
...Mercy Night is a beautiful, candlelit, evening of quiet prayer, with contemplative music and occasional personal witness testimonies - all of which is conducted in the presence of the Holy Eucharist. Prayer teams are available to help those with special prayer needs, be they physical, emotional or spiritual. We also have priests available to hear confessions. Mercy Night is held three times a year and is open to anyone who wishes to come.
Many of us who regularly attend Mercy Night find it to be a quiet prayerful refuge from the busyness of life. There is so much about it that ministers to people's needs for spiritual rest and comfort..." okay, blah blah blah open welcome don't have to be Catholic etc. etc. DOESN'T THAT SOUND AWESOME?
I want to go. And I kind of want to be on that prayer team. One day.
So. Do I email the coordinator? Do I try to get involved in that?
I have two thoughts. The first is that I feel like when I contact the coordinator I should divulge my entire history. "Intercession is one of my top five gifts from the Called And Gifted training!" I will tell them, but then go on to say that 99% of my experience is in Protestant settings. WHY DO I FEEL LIKE I HAVE TO DO THAT. If anything God has been blurring the line between Catholic and Protestant in my little world over this last year or two. FOR SURE. I don't know if it's THAT or if I'm afraid I won't be GOOD at it or I will do it WRONG (EVEN THOUGH THOSE ARE STUPID THINGS TO THINK). I am constantly battling in my brain between "I won't fit in/I don't belong" and "Of COURSE I will be welcome!" Blargh.
The second thing is, I think, an Actual Thing. There is a marked difference between intercession and prayer ministry and I am WAAAAAAY more comfortable with intercession. With intercession the thing/person you are praying for is not generally right there with you. You are praying for the conference going on downstairs, or you are praying for your city, or you are praying for someone in surgery, or whatever. It's more of a God speaking to you and your little group of pray-ers. With prayer MINISTRY, you are sort of standing there praying with someone who needs to hear from God themSELVES. That is scary to me. I feel relatively confident in hearing from God, but there's something about prayer ministry where you just don't know if God is going to show up for someone ELSE. I can deal with not hearing from God if it's just me, but when someone NEEDS prayer and you are praying with them and THEY don't hear from God? SCARY Even thought 1) it has nothing to do with me or my prayers and is not at all dependent on me whatsoever and 2) hello all of my Failure Issues! HA HA HA
I don't know if that makes sense. I know other prayer people who feel the exact opposite - totally comfortable praying for/with someone else and nervous about intercession. I tend to think that my giftings are more in the direction of intercession.
HOWEVER. While this is a Real thing I don't think it necessarily disqualifies me OR should prevent me from finding out and giving it a try. Obviously. All right, that was sorted out in my brain, thank you.
Am I prepared to be burned? I think so. I think so because it wouldn't really be a burn. I have very low expectations and I no longer feel 100% compelled to find my perfect prayer fit in the Catholic church. I think God is okay with me having a foot in both worlds. I think he made it that way. I think he's totally cool with me constantly checking the Bethel church (in Redding, CA) website for prayer conferences and not even bothering to check Catholic options.
On the other hand, am I prepared for it to be awesome? I would love for it to be awesome. But then I would be INVOLVED and IN. Am I ready to do that? Am I ready to devote another piece of me to another thing? I'm a devoter. I commit. I just want to be smarter about it than I have been...
ALL RIGHT sorry to put you all through that. Gold stars for reading comprehension! xo