The Catholic in Me
With the start of every new school year, we always find ourselves reiterating to our students that Destino is a ministry for both Catholics and Protestants. This has not been an easy value to live out in our movement, but it is one I have felt very passionate about these past few years. I truly believe this is the right stance for Destino, and I wanted to share here about my experience at church this week that led me to affirm this once again.
This past Sunday, my church had Communion during the service. It is a very small informal community that tends to do things differently than most churches I have been a part of over the last 15 years. One way our church practices Communion differently is that everyone is allowed to choose whether they want to drink wine or grape juice with it. When the congregation is allowed to go and get the elements, each person can choose from different tables. I chose the wine as I have done many Sundays before when we have taken Communion together.
Also, after the congregation all ate the bread together, I noticed some crumbs on my lap that I gently brushed off. I suddenly felt a pang of guilt which surprised me! It felt disrespectful to treat so casually what I had just partaken of as sacred.
Reflecting on both of these moments from church this week, reminded me that as a Latina I have two traditions alive in me influencing how I view God and experience him. Like many Latinos, I come grew up Catholic. When I drink wine during Communion, it reminds me of a very formal and traditional time in my life when I would weekly take Communion during mass. At the heart of me, it feels more comfortable and right to experience Communion with wine. I had never related my choice at this church with my childhood memories of mass, but I now know that I prefer to have wine during Communion because it helps me connect with the moment in a more meaningful way.
Also, the bread in the Catholic church is the body of Christ so it is honored as such. As a Catholic, it is inappropriate to brush even crumbs onto the floor. I still remember being reprimanded when I was an altar girl for not honoring the bread in this way. While I no longer believe doctrinally as Catholics do about Communion, somewhere in me is still this ingrained perspective that I should treat as sacred the elements of Communion.
I share all this to say that being in Destino has grown my appreciation for these two traditions that exist simultaneously in me. I have the freedom to love parts of both and reject parts of both knowing that neither is perfect. My experience that day brought me back to why I think this is important.
With students involved in our movement, I don’t just want to create space for Catholics to participate and lead with us. I also want to mutually bless one another with our ways of experiencing and worshiping God. Catholicism has some really beautiful rituals that are full of meaning and value while the Protestant faith is where I first grew in my love the Scriptures. I value both and want our students to value both. I do recognize there are real differences that are hard to navigate and make things messy in our movement. But in the end, I think it is honoring to the Lord to watch us figure out how to love one another while not agreeing doctrinally on all issues. We display honest unity when we can worship and be on mission together in one ministry.
Just like my time at church this past Sunday, our students have different parts of them that cherish more than one tradition of faith. How in your movements do you affirm and make room for that? In what ways has having doctrinal diversity in your movements blessed and challenged your group?
Ultimately, I do want to see Destino continue to make this a part of its core identity. We are and need to be a place for both Catholics and Protestants. We really are working towards the same end. That God’s kingdom would come and his will would be done on earth as it is in heaven.