For many years I attended mass covered in a veil of guilt. As I would approach the priest administering the Holy Eucharist, I was certain he knew my shame. Having been divorced, I was not supposed to share in holy communion. However, did my God not want me to participate in this most important portion of the mass? I couldn’t believe it…but it was the rule.
Living thru divorce should have been difficult enough for me, but now my church, whom I felt should welcome me with open arms, didn’t embrace me. In fact, they were a source of extreme angst.
But, I continued to worship weekly , taking my place in the pew and minding my own business. After all, I was there to worship my God, and thank Him for all my blessings. Maybe I would pray for an ailing friend or relative, that someone close to me could conceive, but I seldom would ask for something for myself. Somewhere in my past I had been taught not to ask for myself.
My bible studies taught me differently fortunately. I could have full on conversations with my God just like an earthly father. I could discuss anything with Him. It was a revelation I found so freeing. It made perfect sense.
But, I continued to struggle with the Eucharist and that I had failed in marriage.
One Sunday I approached the bookstand in the vestibule. A small pamphlet caught my eye, “A One Hour Prayer Retreat”. I drew one from the rack and slipped it into my purse. The next day I found myself alone and looking forward to some meditation time. I couldn’t wait to read the small booklet I had chosen.
Here are my notes from the exercise the little booklet asked you to complete:
“A One Hour Prayer Retreat” asked me to draw a chalice. In the bowl of the chalice write words of things you are thankful for. (That was easy) But, for all the most disturbing things in your life, write those words on the base of the chalice. Then, as in the mass, lift up the chalice to the Lord. Give Him thanks for all your blessings And give to Him all of your worldly concerns. Let Him worry about them. Turn them right over to Him.
I could not write the names “Terry” or “John”, the names of my two husbands before Tom, on the base of the chalice – so I simply wrote a “T” and a “J”. I had tucked those two names deep somewhere in my mind, hoping they would never resurface, a part of my life I wished I could completely forget. When I looked at the letters as I held the chalice before my Lord, He spoke to me.
He told me that before there could be a Tom and Judi, there had to be a Terry and a John. They were part of my living testimony. They made me the person that Tom could fall in love with. They actually held purpose in my life.
I don’t feel badly about that any longer and eternally thankful for my faith.
During a Christ Renews His Parish retreat I spoke to the Deacon about the guilt I had felt with regard to the Catholic doctrine. He hugged me and told me he would help me navigate a solution, that my church did not want me to feel this way any longer. He did and in January of 2014 Tom and I were married once again but this time in the Catholic Church. We are official in the eyes of our church and I can accept communion with a pure heart.