Today I had the opportunity to become an ordained minister (technically, anyway). It’s a long story, but a good friend needs someone to be the officiant at her wedding in the next couple of days.
I was stoked. How cool would that be?? I told her I was in–that if she needed me, I would be honored.
Bear with me, because this next part will probably make me sound really uneducated. We knew that I could easily get ordained online, and that would allow me to perform marriages in Utah. Until I started researching the process, though, it hadn’t occurred to me that doing so would mean becoming an ordained member of some non-denominational religious organization. At first I didn’t think anything of it–no big deal, since the sites I was looking at proclaimed basic beliefs that match my own.
Then I hit a general “here’s how to get ordained online” page that cautioned members of other religions, as being ordained by one of these online churches can be considered an act of shunning one’s true/first/real religion. Listed as a prime example? The Catholic church, of course.
It makes sense, and I feel kind of silly for not realizing it earlier–but being ordained through one of these other religious organizations is viewed by the Catholic church as an act of apostasy. Obviously. Being a confirmed Catholic, which I am, I have stated that I believe in one God, one church, etc. That commitment I made doesn’t really provide latitude for a quick online ordination.
Here’s the strange part. I am not an active member of the Catholic church. In fact, I can’t honestly remember the last time I went to mass. When people ask, I tell them I was raised in the Catholic church, I believe in some kind of higher power, I consider myself spiritual, not religious, and that I find more God in nature than I ever did in a church.
Yet, once I realized what I’d be doing by getting ordained, I paused. In fact, I took a long, hard, unexpected pause. If you had asked me two years ago, I would have said the decision was a no-brainer–that I don’t believe that simply clicking a button on my computer means renouncing my faith and that it wouldn’t honestly make a damn bit of difference in my eternal salvation.
But it’s not two years ago. It’s today, and today I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t click “ordain me!”
I’m still feeling a sense of surprise at my own hesitation. At my unwillingness to… risk it? Risk what? Excommunication? The church will never know. How would it? Ah, but God will know, of course. A God that just a couple paragraphs ago I mentioned being unsure of, at least in the form the Catholic church preaches.
I don’t know what all of this means, but there was no doubt that my gut said I wasn’t willing to do it.
It feels like a revelation. A positive realization of some kind. I’ve been reading about theology lately thanks to an interest raised by Katie’s death (and my subsequent questioning of what I believe about the afterlife) and by a beautiful collection of books sent by a dear friend. I’m sure my recent reading and contemplation play a role in all of this.
More importantly, though, I’m feeling that maybe on a deep, previously unrecognized level, in the truest part of my being, I still feel connected to the Catholic church in ways I haven’t recognized. Maybe in ways I’ve tried to downplay or ignore. I don’t have a clue what to do with that, but I know it’s at least worth exploring.
I feel at peace in my state of unknowing. This realization feels like an opening up of some kind, and, given my current spirit of personal change and deeper self-knowledge, that’s a great step. Understanding will come with time and patience, I think.
I hope, anyway. Because it’s an awfully strange feeling to be blind-sided by my own beliefs.
(Side note: Never fear–Clint said he was up to the job and got ordained tonight. He’ll officiate his first wedding this week!)