In her story about her holiday homecoming Meredith Shuster adds a special insight about beginning times here at St. Maurice. It is something that many of us can relate to.
“Catholic enough” was a phrase I remembered hearing as I was growing up. My large family went to parochial school but the “nuns” were known as “sisters” and only wore their habits for special occasions; therefore we weren’t “Catholic enough.“ My family embraced Vatican II. We participated in the folk mass playing guitars and singing contemporary hymns. The pastor would not allow a “guitar mass” in the church. It was held in the church basement – it wasn’t “Catholic enough.” I spent a lot of years as a young adult trying to become “Catholic enough” but could never make it fit. After a while, I stopped trying.
Decades later, I moved to Hollywood, Florida. A cousin wanted to get “reconnected” with the family. As it turned out, this cousin lived in Davie. We spent Thanksgiving 1997 together. In conversation I expressed my inability to find a Catholic church where I seemed to “fit.” She told me all about her parish , St. Maurice, with the Hunger Program, Country Fair and Christ Renews His Parish. Her mother didn’t like it because it wasn’t “Catholic enough.” That was all I needed to hear.
She and I made plans to “meet on the deck.” I didn’t understand what she meant by that but she expressed that I would “know it when I saw it.” When I arrived that Sunday after Thanksgiving, I was greeted with so many hellos and welcomes that I kept finding myself trying to figure out if I knew these people from somewhere. It was surreal. Never had I felt so welcome by “strangers.’ As people walked into the church I was asked if “I was coming.” My cousin wasn’t able to make it and I was unsure whether I wanted to attend Mass alone. As I was leaving, I saw the words on the west side of the building “Joy is the Infallible Sign of the Presence of God.” How bad could it be? I went in the west door and sat on that side of the church. Seeing the Risen Christ instead of a crucifix didn’t seem “Catholic enough” but it sure did “fit.”
In those days, the piano was on the west side of the altar and the cantor directed the congregation from that side as well. Kevin and the cantor sang some of the songs that we used to sing in the “old basement days.” The tempo and energy of the music with everyone around me singing, the rhythm of the prayers, gestures and responses and the attention to detail of the lighting, lectors and ushers made me feel I was in a “production by the Holy Spirit.” It had me singing and praying enthusiastically.
At the announcements, Kevin mentioned that the choir was looking for more voices for the upcoming Christmas holidays. It sure seemed that he was speaking directly to me.
That next Wednesday, I went to the choir rehearsal, was accepted and sang my first Midnight Mass in 20 years. You can still see me hiking up the steps to the music room on Wednesday evening. By the way, I no longer worry if I am “Catholic enough.’ If it’s Catholic enough for the Holy Spirit, it’s Catholic enough for me.