Mass at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Ozark, Alabama

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For the first time in over a year, I attended Mass again, this time at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Ozark, Alabama.

 

The church is small, quite small, and I went alone; this was a big deal for me, as I had to drive half an hour to get there, and I’m unaccustomed to going places alone.

 

Call me crazy, call me ballsy, call me whatever, but I was bloody-minded enough (read: insanely determined) that I was going to go to this freely available Mass tonight, because I was actually awake and had the chance and all that jazz.

 

I didn’t go for myself, ultimately, either; I went for Christ. I kept reminding myself that I was doing this for Christ and not for me, which helped me more to understand what the Sufis mean about surrendering to the Will of God.

 

The priest, Father Tom, was especially welcoming; especially since I ended up arriving a half-hour early for the service. He asked me normal questions, and then people began showing up; they introduced themselves, and I enjoyed the small congregation of only 12 people tonight.

 

The Mass was actually just the communion part; there was no sermon or singing, praise be to God. I do like hymns, and they do have an organ (a small, electrical one), but getting to the good stuff of the Lord Christ is what makes me a happy panda.

 

I’ve never been to such a welcoming church before. I’ve also never been to a church that kept so many Catholic elements for being such a heavily via media church. (They, in fact, had the prayer candles- the votive candles lit when one says a prayer- and we all said, “Amen” after receiving communion, and everyone crossed themselves. This didn’t happen at St. Mark’s in Troy, where they even had a quite visible Tabernacle!)

 

Of course, I shouldn’t read into that sort of thing, either; the important thing is that I went, and I saw Christ proclaimed magnificently in the Episcopal Church once again with a lovely group of people who are indeed the Body of Christ.

 

Receiving the Eucharist did something for me this time, among these beautiful, loving people, and I know that Christ somehow transformed me within, and that I should go receive communion as often as possible. God has done something amazing, something that I don’t fully understand but can palpably feel inside of me.

 

Maybe I am simply more open to God now. Maybe I have matured somewhere inside of myself. Who knows the why and the how? I am concerned only with the fact that receiving communion has changed me in a way I wasn’t expecting, in that same, real manner that’s true- something that is real just IS.

 

After Mass, we had a soup and salad dinner; naturally, I asked if there was any meat in the soup, and someone checked for me. Turns out it was she-crab soup, and it was absolutely amazing; the salad wasn’t half bad, either, and I had a glass of wonderful sweet tea.

 

Then Father Tom gave a semi-humorous presentation on the Top Ten Failed Evangelism Ideas. People commented and tried to figure out how to best help evangelize in the community; the ultimate idea came back around to Facebook and Youtube.

So, in a way, I suppose I’m doing my part.

 

The Episcopal Church is, in many ways, a mess, yet there is undeniably a statement of truth- they accept everyone, especially this parish. They accept absolutely everyone, regardless of race, creed, or sexual orientation. (I should note that a gay couple made up part of tonight’s congregation!)

 

A few of my other devoted friends have ended up in the Episcopal Church. True, the mystic in me will never relent from my heresies, but perhaps that’s exactly what will ultimately grant the Episcopal Church its greatest strength- the outcasts who hold a piece of Christ’s Mystery that was never written down and given the Seal of Approval.

St. Michael’s is an openly and avowed gay-friendly church; this is true for the priest and the congregation, as I experienced first-hand tonight. You will feel welcome, no matter who you are!

Praise be to God, and let us proclaim the ultimate Mystery of Christ’s love.

You can visit their Facebook page here.

 

Beaux

 

 

 

 

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The Bridge

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Somehow, I understand even more the predicament in which Christ found Himself. Allow me to explain:

 

Point-blank, I’m too orthodox for the Gnostics. I’m too Gnostic for the orthodox. I’m too Catholic for the Protestants, and I’m too Protestant for the Catholics.

Invariably, I seem to fall somewhere between extremes in terms of my views. I can never take sides because my side is where I am, and that’s nowhere, or somewhere between two places that is said not to exist.

 

That being said, I can see the Anglican response: “Via Media!”

Yes, but, and here comes the sharpest thing I’ve had to say about Anglicanism in quite sometimes, calling Anglicanism a “via media” between Protestantism and Catholicism doesn’t depict what it looks (or feels) like in practice. Anglicanism, by and large, has left the flavor in my mouth of being a Catholic-coated Protestant treat. If they had been wiser back in the day and hadn’t gone all crazy with accepting thing from Luther and Calvin, then maybe “via media” would be true of it- Popeless Catholics, incorporating the theology of the Eastern Orthodox Church, and so on. But that’s simply not how it played it out or plays out from what I can tell. The Anglo-Catholics do a good job of this for the most part; they can out-Catholic Romans almost any day. But I still question what an “ordinary” Episcopalian would say about Eucharist adoration, veneration of the Blessed Virgin, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, praying the rosary, and how to identify with the word “Protestant.”

Anyway, tonight I watched a small part of a Latin Mass. The app on the iPad wasn’t working well, and it never does, but I did get to see about the first third of the Mass. The Latin Mass had a kind of simplicity to it, oddly enough- it was elegant, it was thoughtful, it was quiet, and the mystical dimension of it was visible- plainly visible. Even the quiet intoning of the Latin by the priest was enough to lead me to a deeper place within myself.

Once I arrived home, I came to the realization of why I don’t fit into this or that camp: it’s because I’m the bridge, the living bridge between different worlds. A mediator, as it were- the glue that’s holding it together.

Now I know how Jesus Christ felt. He had to hold together two worlds, the Divine and the Creation- He indeed is the bridge between the two worlds, and by His Holy Incarnation and Death and Resurrection, He forever closed the wounds in Reality. Nay, not only closed, but healed and restored them.

There is much work to be done. Pray for me, brethren.

And maybe I’m wrong about the Anglicans. I have at least one friend who knows what I mean when I speak about them. Maybe the idea that I, too, question the validity of the Holy Orders and so on attests to my unconscious already surrendering to the Roman Catholic Church as THE Church. The Anglo-Catholics, too, stand in contradistinction to the typical Protestant imagery, and saying “Anglo-Catholic Protestant” seems totally meaningless.

 

God be with us. Our help is in the Name of the Lord.

I’m probably again over-thinking things.

Beaux

The Episcopal Church

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Being without a proper Gnostic Church to attend, I’ve given heavy consideration over the past few years about joining the Catholic Church or the Episcopal Church. I’ve even attended Mass a few times with Tyler at the Episcopal Church and enjoyed it.

Beaux