Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Catholic Means Universal? Tell that to my knees.

Okay, it was 5th grade, I'm pretty sure it was 5th grade when I was introduced to the infamous Baltimore Catechism.  Days and days of memorization followed.  The one thing I can still recall today is that the word "Catholic" means "Universal."  But does it really?

I'm sure you'll hear or you've heard the headlines today that "Catholics all over the world come together to begin the Lenten Season by celebrating Ash Wednesday or Aswoensdag (in Dutch)."  Well, I'm a Catholic, and I feel like a world away from home celebrating Ash Wednesday tonight.

My wife, Vicki, and I are living in the town of Oss, the Netherlands (approx 1hr 30min south of Amsterdam).  This whole "universal" thought struck me during Mass tonight.   If the Church is really "universal" why am I shaking hands during the Sign of Peace with an older Dutch gentlemen while still on my knees.  Vicki and I have been blessed to be able to attend Masses across the US and around the globe, and the only universal thing I've seen is that every diocese/country/continent does things different.

For some perspective, last summer in our Irish Church we hardly knelt at all during Mass.  Now tonight in our new Dutch church it seemed like we knelt all night.  Maybe not all night, but the zero padded kneelers made it seem like an eternity.

Despite the little differences it was a memorable experience celebrating Aswoensdag in a new Church, in a new country.

Maybe I should tweet the Pope about this whole universal thing before he leaves.

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