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Exploring the Catholic Tradition as an Outsider

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It was a snowy February Morning a morning which I had prepared for the night prior. Planning for the next day isn't something I usually had to do the night before my regular work or school day but today was special. And it wasn't because of the snowflakes that were lofting so beautifully from the sky as I woke for the day. Today would mark the first time I had been to Church in over 18 years. Why you might ask was I going to church after all this time? I was assigned a project in my world religions class at Portland Community College. Mind you it was an optional assignment but with me being the adventurous type who likes to go out and experience new things. I know World religions was supposed to be a very laid back and non offensive approach to learning the major religions but between this class and my recent history class I've done a great deal of thinking about what I actually believe in. I've never actually been given the chance to sit down and weigh my options and decide for myself what I believe in. Have you?

Now onto some history. If you look back into my father The Brown's heritage you'll find a very strict Seventh Day Adventist which is a reformed offspring of Christianity and The Catholic Church. The Seventh Day Adventist Religion is relatively new compared to all of these other Christian offspring's I've been learning about as it was actually founded here in the United States. I don't think I need to give a history lesson for people to realize that the United States really isn't that old of a country at all compared to most in Europe where the majority of us can trace our ancestry back to. Anyways, the fact that it's so new is often why I've always questioned it. Newer to me means that someone changed another version of the religion because they felt like it. God didn't actually speak to them and ask them to slightly change the religion and consequently start fights with others over this. Then there's the whole "We go to church on the 7th day because it's in the commandments. We're right and you ALL are wrong." Ummm, No! The 7th day actually is Sunday in most of the world and I'm thinking by this point in time even in America. I'm honestly surprised that Sunday hasn't became the 7th day already since it's what we use on our business calendars. That's hardly an argument for a new religion. Now what religion does my mother practice you ask? I'd say she's non denominational Christian. This is a much more laid back approach to Christianity. One that I appreciated much more growing up even though we only attended church while I was a child and I can barely remember it. It seems through history, at least European history that the mother being the one raising the children is the one with the influence on which religion her children will practice. With my family this was exactly the case. Though as stated before there was a point in which we actually stopped going to church on Sundays which was when I was about 7 years old. When I mentioned this assignment to my father he immediately attempted to get me to skip school [My pcc Math Course] on a Saturday and go with him. And that offer was the last option I probably would've taken considering I don't really believe in the Adventist ways nor would I like to be obligated to go to Church with my dad more often. Once I got past my father I thought about trying to find a Jewish Temple and began searching the net for a temple that would be extremely architecturally satisfying. I figure I would take in the building and scene just as much as I would the prayers and all the singing that was sure to come. Well while searching for a Temple I came across a beautiful Catholic Church located in Saint Paul, Oregon. Obviously not Jewish but I felt a draw to the building structure just by looking at the image on the internet. This church was loaded with history as it was the very first Catholic Church on the west coast and the first brick church built on the west coast. Was this enough to change my worship study to Catholic? Ummm, Yes! In my history class we've been learning about the Gothic Architecture style and I've been so anxious ever since to see a Gothic styled building in person. So why not kill two birds with one stone? I could see a building that I've been fantasizing about and just take everything about my experience in. And that's exactly what I did.

So back to the story. Anyways, I got dressed for church and made my way to Saint Paul, Oregon for Sunday worship at my new favorite Catholic Church. If you haven't been to Saint Paul it's just this tiny tiny little farm town with a school, a church, a store, a bank and not really much else. The Church towered over every other building in town which was simply amazing considering it was built in 1846. I actually pulled off to the side of the road and took in the feel of it before actually pulling into the lower speed zone which meant you were finally inside the city limits. It wasn't hard to find the church. Every road that turned right actually lead to the "cross shaped" building. By the time I parked and neared the church I could feel the Gothic architecture very present with the pointed arch windows wrapping the entire ancient building. The tower in the front was the next thing that caught my eye and finally the burnt red brick. It was gorgeous yet intimidating at the same time. I don't recall ever walking into a building that felt so grand. The church was built like most Roman aged churches in a cross shape and again those pointed arch windows with the gorgeous stained glass was something I could've sat outside studying all day. But the building was only one thing that I came for. The other was to attend the 10am mass. There weren't any cars in front of the building



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