Catholic Journey – Part Four

Dear readers,

Back in March or February, you might remember that I posted some prayers on the blog. They included the Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary and the Apostale’s Creed. I was studying them for a very important event that was to happen on 7th April on a Saturday night. I must say, the former two I still remember quite well. I confess, I am hopeless at remembering the Apostale’s Creed. Mainly because it is so long. It’s nothing to do with not believing it or taking issue, as Priests are known to have said on Youtube videos. I have trouble remembering all the lyrics of my favourite songs. I don’t remember God Save the Queen (nor do I want to), so remembering prayers isn’t always easy, which is a problem as I have to learn the Rosary and the Mea Culpa (known as the Confiteor), which is below.

I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters,that I have greatly sinned,in my thoughts and in my words,in what I have done and in what I have failed to do, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault; therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin,all the Angels and Saints,and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.

This one I like because it involves thumping on the chest when you repeat “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault”. I have to learn these in Spanish, which I don’t mind, but during a time that I have to remember 101 million different things for the wedding paperwork, it was left me a little tired.

Back to 7th April. Thanks to friends at Espavel, who I’d been having classes with for over a year, they helped arrange that I have be given quite an amazing Catholic combo, by having the confirmation, baptism and Holy Communion done all at once by no other than the Cardernal Oscar Andres Rodriguez, who was one of those tipped to be Pope. It is a very traditional event here, celebrated at Semana Santa.

Tia Sofie was desperate to be my Godmother (to teach me devillish tricks), and my soon to be brother in law, Juan Jose, as my Godfather. A couple of days before the big event, I had to give my details at the Cathedral. The problem was, on the sheet that I had to present my details, it only had space for one or the other of my Godparents, so I wrote my Godmother’s name, soley on the basis that she is older. I didn’t think it would have much bearing. When we arrived at on the evening though, there was just space for one, as there were 14 or more people also receiving these sacraments, people of all ages too. We sat at the front and, I must say, I felt nervous. The prayers were floating around my head and I kept trying to revise them in my little black book, while trying to hold on to a candle. It was also extremely hot, being April time; height of the Honduran summer. The Cathedral was filling up fast, the musicians were buzzing around and people were being dressed up and decorated. Pamela’s family sat in the church midway down the aisle, while Pamela fussed over my tie. I don’t think I was quite as nervous as the guy next to me, an older guy, whose Godparent hadn’t appeared. I felt a lot for him. He was stressed, racing around, trying to communicate in silence with his family as they frantically called this person to see where the hell they were. But I think the worst was the inevitable sense of disappointment, the realisation that this person chosen to be a Godparent does not care enough to be punctual on the one night as a Godparent that he must be punctual. The church organisers were asking questions, which increased the anxiety and embarrassment in the poor guy. We all tried to calm him, especially my Godmother, but we could no longer once the lights dimmed and the ceremony began. However, after a long wait for the procession to start, we had all had time to become chummy with each other, mainly out of excitement. So, when this young man did appear with an inappropriate grin on his digit, we all blanked at him. The way Tia Sofie did it was so amusingly direct that I had a really hard time stifling my giggles. He deservedly looked like an eejit, and made to feel like one too.

Going back to that moment though. When the Cathedral’s lights dimmed and people hushed to silence, and the dancing flames of the bonfire at the front church cackled and sprayed specks of light through the door. A siloutte appeared at that huge oval door of various bodies bobbing slightly and silently, lined like a Holy train. By the use of the word Holy, you can of course work out by that I mean the clergy. The music began, and the train marched forward down the aisle slowly, igniting candles from a large giant candle from the fire outside and swinging incense of Holy Smoke, filling the atmosphere with a soothing aroma (which unfortunately seemed to have little impact on the poor stressed guy to my right). I had a problem with my candle, however, in that it was spitting burning wax on my hand and arm. To try and deflect it, holding it at an angle so it would pour down one side on to the floor. Being the giant tit that I am, I forgot that I had a woman in a wheelchair sat to my left with her leg propped up a little too close for comfort (claustophobia set in thanks to the cramped space). Half way through standing up singing along to a hymn, I felt a tapping on my leg, and it was the woman looking up at me and pointing at her leg where I was dripping hot wax on to. This was being filmed on national tv. Panic, panic, panic. I then tried to move the candle to my right but it was too close to the man’s shirt (he was already upset about not having his Godparent there. I didn’t think setting him alight, or anyone alight, would have been appreciated. Excommunicated on the night of baptism, I am sure that it may have happened in the history of the church, but I did not want to add my name on to such an infamous list), which meant having to hold the candle at a long arms length directly in front of me. An elderly couple, who sat facing me on the other side of the aisle, looked at me as if I’d ten heads or more. When we blew the candles out, I let out a sigh of relief.

I forgot to mention that the event lasted for nearly four hours, which seems to many like a heck of a time. I’ll be honest though, it flew. There were seven readings that re-tell the Resurrection of Christ, accompanied by chants, hymns and prayers, many of which were celebratory and happy. It made me forget that I had to read the prayers in front of Honduras and a few hundred people in the church, like I was told would happen. I’m not great in front of large crowds, so it had left me nervous. It was beautiful though. Life changing. A term so often used but it was. At the end of the readings, we were all called forward by the cardenal. The bishops blessed us one by one. I was then called forward to have Holy water poured on forehead. Unfortunately I held my head little too far forward and the water splashed right through my hair. The cardenal had to then get a towel to dry my tie and hair. A right Holy dunking. Step one passed; baptised.

Capture

The confirmation involved us having to agree and confirm our believe in the Holy Trinity and in the Lord. No need to recount prayers in front of everyone. Step two passed: confirmed.

The third and final part, we returned to our seats while the Cardenal chanted communion. We were then called forward to take the bread of Christ. I then made more of an idiot of myself by waiting to receive the blood of Christ too. I stood like an idiot for a couple of seconds, but was told to sit down by the Cardenal in a slightly frustrated tone. I was then complete. Catholic and proud. I had received Holy Communion.

It was the end of the ceremony, but not the end of the night by the looks of things, as people danced around the altar and sang songs and Priests splashed the church goers with Holy Water, which sent Pamela’s mother running (she said she didn’t want to get her hair wet). On the way out, I was met by Juan Paolo, by tutor and friend from Espavel, who gave me a mini Rosary. It was a beautiful night that ended late.

I am Catholic for life (if I don’t commit any major mortal sins that makes me ex-communicated). Therefore, the Catholic journey is for life. I’m pleased I’ve embraced it. I have since been more involved, and Pamela wants us to join in with a couples group once we are married. I will go into this in the coming updates. If I could give anyone any advice though, especially those who need or want more spirituality in their lives; embrace it. Go to your local church, and speak to someone about it. If you don’t like it, you can go elsewhere to another faith. For me personally, it has helped. I think this is as good a moment to finish now.

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About Nicholas Rogers

I am an English journalist/copywriter living in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and I have been here since 2011. I originally came to work with Casa Alianza, which supports street kids and vulnerable youths. I then stayed on, after meeting Pamela Cruz Lozano, who calls me her adopted Catracho. I work freelance journalism and I have my own translation business. Why did I come here? For the challenge, to open my mind and get out of my comfort zone. I love literature and I've written a book with street kids. I write novels, short stories and poetry, all of which you will find on this blog, as well as a lot of information about Honduras. View all posts by Nicholas Rogers

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