Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What Would You Have Done? What Should I Have Done?

The question of the day is:
"Whether" can mean "which of two." Present two alternatives for your readers.

I was born and raised as a Catholic.  I chose to marry someone who was not Catholic and agreed to have the ceremony performed by the minister in my fianc├ęs  church.  The minister agreed to have a priest preside along side of him, but I could not find a priest who was willing to do that.  According to the  Code of Canon Laws of the church, because I did not marry within the walls of a Catholic church and since  the sacrament was not performed by a priest, my marriage was not considered to be valid by the church.  I was essentially excommunicated and not allowed to receive any other sacraments, including communion.

This text was taken from the "Code of Canon Law; Title VII Marriage Chapter VI:
      "It is forbidden to have another religious celebration of the same marriage to give or renew matrimonial consent before or after the canonical celebration according to the norm of §1.Likewise, there is not to be a religious celebration in which the Catholic who is assisting and a non-Catholic minister together, using their own ritesask for the consent of the parties."

That marriage took place 43 years ago.  (We have since divorced).  Since then I have been to church only to attend the weddings, baptisms, or funerals of others.   
When attending a mass under those circumstances, I will adhere to and follow the various postures of the mass, i.e.: standing and sitting when instructed to do so.  But since I am no longer familiar with the etiquette of the rituals of the mass I am more of a respectful observer rather than an active participant. 

Last Saturday I was asked to give a eulogy for my Uncle at a memorial service.  The service was held in a Catholic church and was part of a mass.  I noticed that as others went up to the podium to do a reading, they would pause and genuflect while facing the alter, before proceeding up to the podium. 

As I waited for my turn to go up to the podium, I struggled with how I should proceed.  Should I try to follow the example of the others by genuflecting. Was there more to the ritual that I was not aware of?    Would it be disrespectful if I did not perform the ritual in the correct order or manner?   Would it be hypocritical for me do attempt to follow the ritual?

What would you do?   What should I have done?

I will reveal what I did in tomorrow's post.

Here is today's entry from Anna's Diary:
Wed. March 13 1929
Girls met in Arlington at Mrs. Saps. Corinne & Ted for supper.  Went to church play Gladys M. was in.  There was dancing afterwards.  I did  not dance.  Met Elsie & Dick. Mr. & Mrs. Wittenburg there.

Click here to see the post where I introduced Anna's Diary.


  1. I would have simply followed my heart.   The day was about your uncle, not the church.  I'm sure whatever you did was just fine.

  2. As I was told that I was condemned to Hell for eternity when I was 14 for something that I thought was a very minor offense I simply told myself that I was no longer Catholic and stopped all forms of Catholic ritual. I have much respect for ritual and spirituality but not for structured religion. There are parts of every religion that I admire and parts of every religion that I don't so I guess I am an Independent in the spiritual politics of Earth. As I wouldn't and don't know the protocol for what to do upon approaching the alter I would have simply with respect walked up naturally and honestly without the ritual....

  3. I am also a recovering Catholic.  And I would not genuflect.  There are rare occasions when I am present at Catholic rituals now (the weddings, funerals and such that you reference and the occasional time when I accompany my mother to church /c she likes that).  I tend to be an observer and to sit as far to the back as I can get away with.  I do follow the postures and I listen to what is being read and said.  But , in the situation that you describe, for me it doesn't seem right or necessary to genuflect.  You are no longer a participating member.  This particular gesture seems more personal and meaningful than just following the crowd.  I would feel hypocritical and awkward.  But then, what else is new?

  4. I am a recovering Catholic.   My take on this situation is "When in the Vatican, do as the natives do, and genuflect."  Just as a visitor to a Catholic service (always welcome) would sit, kneel and stand with the others members of the congregation, so might you genuflect.  This act is a sign of respect, so how could you be criticized for trying to apportion the correct amount of respect?  Cool post, Lynda.