This week I attended a Catholic Mass at Immaculate Conception Church in Monrovia, CA. I brought my mom with me. My mom has been living with me since February when my stepdad passed away. She moved here from Arizona, and I am her primary caretaker. My mom has been asking to go to this church since she has been here. She was born and raised Catholic. I was not raised in the Catholic faith or any religion.
I chose this church to attend service to make my mom happy, but also this specific church has a lot of family history. I have only attended maybe two Catholic Masses in my lifetime, and have never been inside this church. When we walked up the steps inside, my mom immediately recognized the church. Her grandma used to bring her here, and my grandma, my mom’s mother has attended service here. I was hoping by walking into the doors I would feel a deep connection to my grandma, whom I was very close with.
As soon as I walked in the doors, I felt an energy move through me, and tears began to well in my eyes. I looked around the large chapel and admired all the stained-glass images of the saints and archangels. We sat near Saint Theresa in the very front so my mom could see and hear. According to www.catholic.org Saint Theresa is the saint for Headache suffers. She died on October 4th, 1582. These facts might not matter to someone else about Saint Theresa, but to me, it was a huge sign. My grandma suffered from headaches, and so did I. She gave me caffeine as a child to help me with my headaches. My grandma also died on October 4th just as Saint Theresa did. I knew none of these facts about Saint Theresa until now, but when I walked in this church, I felt my grandma.
The priest’s sermon was about confession and the power of reconciliation, which can also be referred to as the sacrament of confession. According to www.catholicscomehome.org, “The Sacrament of Reconciliation is one of the most unique and beautiful aspects of Catholicism. Jesus Christ, in His abundant love and mercy, established the Sacrament of Confession, so that we as sinners can obtain forgiveness for our sins and reconcile with God and the Church. The sacrament “washes us clean” and renews us in Christ.” I have had a hard time with this aspect of the Catholicism because it just doesn’t seem fair to me that someone can do something terrible to someone else and then go to mass the next day and be washed clean of their sins. I appreciated this pastors conviction in the idea of reconciliation with God and how much he believed in this practice.
During the service, my Mom and I stood during all the times it was asked of us. However, we did not participate in the chanting or parroting of some songs. We also did not participate in Holy Communion. After Holy Communion was over the priest came over to my mom and I and shook our hands and blessed us. I thought this was nice because surely he knew we were new to the church and wanted to make us feel welcome even though we did not take Holy Communion.
What I noticed about this church was all the different ages and ethnicities in the room. Everyone came together in peace and enjoyed the services as a whole with no judgment of each other. I thought this was beautiful. Everyone at the end was hugging each other and holding hands. It felt safe and familiar in a way, like the Alanon meetings I am reliant on. After the service was over, we walked over to the candles and lit one for my grandma, my great-grandma, and my stepdad.
Although I do not plan on becoming a Catholic, I can appreciate the religious practice. I went there yesterday asking for a sign from my grandma, and I got it, loud and clear. Going to Immaculate Conception Church reminds me and assure me to keep the faith. It helped me to see that I can find signs and messages from my angels and Higher Power anywhere, even inside a building of a faith that I do not identify with.