Sunday, 6 December 2009
As I said in a previous post, I renewed my vows on Saturday. I first made my vows seven years ago, and I can honestly say that I haven't regretted my decision, not even once.
Of course, having lived the life for seven years, I sometimes forget how strange my decision might appear to others, especially people who don't go to church themselves. This was really brought home to me this year...
First of all, there was my conversation with my hairdressers. The senior stylist has known me for a few years, so she knew the general score, but the junior who was assisting her wanted to know if I was a nun... once I'd cleared that one up, I then had to explain that no, this wasn't the reason I always wore black... I just liked wearing black.
While waiting for my hair tint to develop, I thought I'd treat myself to a manicure, as the beautician at the salon wasn't busy... nothing fancy, no false nails, just a moisturising treatment for the cuticles, the nails shaped and polish applied. She also asked what I was up to at the weekend. On hearing that I was a Catholic, she started to tell me that her boyfriend was a lapsed Catholic, and they were considering marriage, but the young man's family told her that she had to be baptised Catholic before they could marry in church. I quickly put her right on this point, and we spent about half an hour discussing marriage, the need for Catholics to marry in church, the cost (minimal) of marrying in church, vows, children, baptism, living in sin, divorce rates among people who didn't cohabit, the need for Confession and faith.
Saturday morning dawned, and I phoned for a cab, as I intended to have a drink at the party after the service. The driver was one who had collected me several times before (I'm a creature of habit) and he was keen to know what I was celebrating.
On hearing that I was renewing my vows, he looked puzzled. "Isn't your other half supposed to be with you when you do that?" he asked, "...or is he already at the church?"
I explained that my "other half" was, so to speak, God. Watching his expression (in the driver's rearview mirror) was very entertaining... I could almost see the thoughts churning round, followed by a hesitant "But... if you don't mind me asking... does that mean that you can't have a boyfriend...?"
The journey was, mercifully, a short one (15 minutes), but we managed to touch on vows, sex outside marriage, Original Sin, the variety of different religions and denominations, Henry VIII and the Reformation, death, judgement, hell and heaven. I'm not used to quite so much theology before 10am!
The Missa Cantata was wonderful as usual, and the schola sang beautifully.
We had a short service of Benediction; I love this devotion - something about how God abases himself before us, the creatures He loves so much, as He condescends to appear in the form of a little fragment of bread...
And after Mass, we had the service where I renewed my vows. First, we had a reading from St. Francis de Sales: a short passage which seemed to be written especially for me. Fr. Tim gave a short sermon, but I'm afraid that, although I remember it being excellent, I was so moved by the whole thing that I can't remember any of it. I do seem to recall that vocations were mentioned!
The schola intoned the Litany of Saints. I had brought my St. Andrew's Missal with me, and was fascinated to discover that St. Hieronymus is Latin for St. Jerome! There were some more prayers, the vows themselves, and sprinkling with holy water... and there I was, "done and dusted" for another year.
Members of the Parish UCM had agreed to take care of the catering, and I think you'll agree that they did an amazing job...
Delia insisted on taking a photo of me. I agreed, only because she said it would be from the back, and on my camera. It was a ghastly photo, and I've deleted it... (sorry, Delia!)
I had a beautiful day, and would like to thank everyone (present in person or in spirit!) for their kind comments, messages of support and prayers.