Friday, November 12, 2010

Church Door Phobia

So, here's an interesting blog post idea: strange phobias. I don't have many of them, really. I'm working through my issues with the telephone, at least in my head. But I did once have a sort of anxious catch in my heart about church doors. This goes back to the time of my conversion to Catholicism as well.

Some Catholic churches have so many doors, no doubt owing to the evolution of how people arrive at church. Doors off sidewalks accommodate walkers. Side doors accommodate parking lots and handicap accessibility. But sometimes there are just so dang many of them that it is hard to know which is the best door to use. Then there are the round churches. Who knows where those doors will lead! Back in my early days of trepidation my chief worry was that I would open a door that would lead me smack into the front of a church -- right on the altar how about -- when a Mass was going on. I could picture a crowd of 500 Catholics going pin-drop silent as the poor wayfaring stranger stepped in. Everyone would realize I was deeply clueless. (I was just a tad self-conscious.)

One of my favorite memories of God's care for me amidst my now seemingly silly insecurities involved church doors. The Lord had given me the instruction to "be going to Mass," which I knew meant daily Mass. I tried to obey. Since I had overheard a volunteer at work mention that she went to daily Mass in the morning, I figured I had to go in the morning as well. I had to be at work by 8:30, but I knew a nearby parish had a 7:00 morning Mass, so one morning I mustered myself up to go. As I walked, I fretted, because this was one of those big, old churches with six different banks of doors at three levels. I had never been in this church before, and I had no idea what I'd find once I walked in. So I prayed, begging the Lord to send someone ahead of me whom I could follow in. As I approached the church, sure enough, a man crossed the street and my path in front of me, and went in. The door he entered was two inches from closing when at a natural gait I approached it, took it in hand, and went in. I followed him down the steps, right into the rear of the lower church where people were gathered for Mass. What a relief that was!

Now, I had gotten used to services that were nearly three hours long, so when the entire Mass was finished in 20 minutes, I hardly knew what hit me. I had barely gotten comfortable in the pew, and it was all over! Bewildered, I never went back to that early morning Mass. In fact, it took me almost an entire year before I started daily Mass in earnest -- in the late afternoon after work!

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