Sunday, November 21, 2010

Church, Religion and Shaking Hands? (Revisited)

With the temperature changing it seems that the cold and flu season is once more upon us. I try to exercise extreme caution especially during this season. That means frequent hand washing, along with a healthy dose of Purel throughout the day. Today in mass amongst the smiling faces I found sniffling and coughing close at hand and was reminded of an older blog I had once posted. Having experienced similar sentiments today, I thought I would repost this blog:

I am by faith a Roman Catholic. Yes, I have engaged in the first three fundamental steps of Catholicism – baptism, communion and confirmation. From, the youngest of age God and Church have been a primary teaching in my life. In fact, at one point I contemplated becoming a nun. (Geeze, how I envied Mother Teresea and the Sound of Music Sister Maria.)

However, as I got older I began to explore deeper, provoking, questions – oftentimes too scared to utter to others. For example ‘How do we know the Bible is really the Word of God?’ ‘Who wrote the Bible?’ ‘How did the New Testament come to be?’ Eventually, my questions and thirst for answers led me to travel as far as Israel, for answers. Indeed I got some answers, and today I see myself as more spiritual than religious. Moreover, I certainly don’t discount other people’s faith or lack of faith, for who am I to be the wiser?

So, while I consider myself more spiritual than religious, I still enjoy attending my Catholic church. It is my place of worship and meditation. For those who have never been, attending a Catholic Church entails many traditional practices. For example there is standing, kneeling, sitting, shaking hands with your neighbours and saying “peace be with you,” accepting bread and wine (representing the body and blood of Christ), holding hands during the Lord’s Prayer and singing various songs (a.k.a hymns) – to name a few. However, I actually enjoy these practices. It is familiar to me and feels like home – I just wish we didn’t shake hands!

Now, I am a germ freak and with winter closely upon us, I’m not so keen on shaking hands and then accepting the body of Christ in that hand that I just shook hands with or held during a prayer.

I can remember during the SARS epidemic shaking hands in church was not allowed and wine was provided in paper cups. Now, we’re back to normal where we shake hands, instead of nod to our good neighbours, and wine serving an entire congregation, is offered from the same challis. Needless to say, I take the blood of Christ at home.

In the end, this exposure to germs (which may leave me with a cold lasting weeks) is worth it! I still get excited and sing very loudly when a favorite song is chosen for the day like “On Eagles Wind”, “Be not Afraid” or “Sing to the Mountains”. And I leave feeling elevated when the Priest ends with “The Mass has ended now go in Peace. Peace be with you.” It’s like I’ve received my blessing for the week.

Peace be with you,

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