Camino minus 24 – a Heavy Religious Dilemma

A recent, non-scientific  survey found that the majority of  people who walk the Camino Frances believe they and their fellow pilgrims are walking for religious reasons. However, it also found that the overwhelming majority do not attend religious services on a regular basis.

Curious.

I finally got to the local English language Church, which I had been told about a while ago yet never made it to because, well, who knows why.

When DH and I go to Mass, it is on base, a hefty distance for busy people like us to travel (too busy for God??!!)  Since most of the people who attend Mass on base seem to live on base, I feel disconnected with the parishioners. Since I don’t work on base and do not have children who go to school on base, I have little in common with them. I don’t run into them during the week, I don’t go to the same places they go, I don’t shop at the same stores.

Of course, Mass is about you and God, not you and the people around you, but it’s also a community effort. And, after a year, I feel like an outsider.

So, I was looking forward to this local Church. I was a bit taken back, however, to discover that this Church is –  dare I say it – Anglican!! Heavens! Heathens!!

Nevertheless, since I had raced out of the house to get there on time, I went in. It was a lovely, warm, friendly service, about 40 people of all ages and, different from my parish back in Virginia, lots of young adults, not so many wrinkled faces (not that there’s anything wrong with wrinkled faces, mind you, being a proud owner of one myself).

I had been to the local Roman Catholic Cathedral, right downtown, and asked about English language services in the area and hadn’t gotten an answer I could understand. This nearby Church was my last great hope.

The Anglican service is very similar to the Roman Catholic service – same structure, same prayers, same sacrament, same scripture readings.

But, Catholics are not allowed to partake of sacraments in Anglican services.

Darn you, Henry VIII!!!

The survey I mentioned earlier said that many of the pilgrims on the Camino felt left out of many of the pilgrim Masses they had been able to attend – they didn’t understand what was being said, and/or they couldn’t participate. That sense of loss and longing is one the Church struggles to address and correct. After all, the purpose of the Camino to Santiago de Campostella is to arrive at the Cathedral in Santiago de Campostella, the final resting place of St. James, a pretty holy, Catholic,  place.

Yes, I know about the ongoing questions of “who is REALLY buried there, how can it REALLY be St. James,” etc. However, belief  and faith are what it’s all about, right?)

Maybe my pilgrimage will find a local parish in Germany for me to attend?

It’s a strange day for me to be pondering these questions. Today is my Dad’s birthday, who passed away two years ago.  He was not a religious man, but his mother, my Grandmother, certainly was. Her Catholicism was strong but not overpowering to me, as a child. It was a source of mystery and strength, just the things an immigrant family needed in a new culture. You could always depend on it being there for you. Why Dad didn’t pick up on it is a mystery to me!

And I love being Roman Catholic. I love the rituals and the ability to question. I love the legacy of learning and the charity. In Venice a few months ago, I loved going to daily Mass at the  Church around the corner ( you know it was Catholic) and participating, even though I couldn’t speak a word of Italian. It was a beautiful place and a beautiful feeling. They had an English service every Sunday, and DH participated as one of the lectors.

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Here, locally, something is missing for me.

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