Monday, October 26, 2009

The Joys of Catholic Paradoxes

I have been so busy lately I have not been able to keep up with this blog, but I have for some time wanted to post about the paradoxes, the enigmas, seeming contradictions I have found within Catholicism and plan yet on doing that. But yesterday, I was again reminded of this when I was walking into St. James Cathedral in Seattle.

There are many homeless people in Seattle and they hang around the cathedral because there they find shelter and food. As we were walking into mass yesterday morning a man, obviously a mentally ill vagrant, was walking in with us. Besides the bags of his earthly wealth carried under his arm, he was wearing jeans with a woman's dress over them. His face was caked with women's makeup, his eyes smeared with eyeliner making him look somewhat like a raccoon.

I was going to mass with a mentally ill, cross dressing, homeless man. Something I had never been exposed to in other churches. He sat down on a wooden chair, and the magnificent organ began the prelude. The choir began its glorious praise to God and I felt so wonderfully small and insignificant amongst the beauty of the sound and the high ceilings full of stained-glass windows and golden pillars.

In the Catholic Cathedral we are reminded that beauty draws us to worship the creator of beauty. We are brought into a building of unparalleled breathtaking magnificence in Washington State. The sounds bouncing off the ceilings so high I have to put on my glasses to see any details way up there. I find a God there who wants to bring us into the opulent, lavish grace of His presence. It is a taste of heaven.

And there also I find the darkest depths of sadness in the eyes of the lonely comic looking man. In one moment heaven and hell stand in the same room. I am reminded by this paradox, this strange scene that in Catholicism we are living in the Kingdom of God and also, not yet.......