Letter From New York December 07, 2014 The Day after Winter Walk

Today is the day after Winter Walk, which was perhaps the most lightly attended Winter Walk of any year that I have been attending. The chill rain drove many inside, skipping the street for the warmth of restaurants and bars where merriment was to be found. Not to mention that it was dry.

The human crèche that is an annual event was scrubbed this year due to the rain. But it was interesting in the blocks I walked before the chill set in to see all the new shops that had opened on Warren Street, some for the first day.

One of those was Talbot and Arding, a high-end purveyor of foods next to the Red Dot. Yesterday was their first day open and the shop was shiny and glistened and was filled with good foods. It will be interesting to see how they do. I’ll go back for a closer look when the crowds thin down.

The hit of the evening was the Saxophone playing Santa, who jammed with any other musicians on the street, performing interesting versions of Christmas Carols – think jazz meets African meets traditional.

I sailed on home after a couple of hours and had dinner with friends, rising, refreshed to a chill but sunny day.

My friend Lionel was singing from Handel’s Messiah today at Christ Church Episcopal so I went to church this morning to give him moral support. He was great; no support really needed.

It brought back childhood memories of going to Visitation Church in South Minneapolis; all the students had to go to the 9:00 AM Mass and I remember long winter months when we would be crowded in with our coats and mufflers. Someone was always sure to faint.

A part of me loved the ritual of the Catholic Mass, set in its ways down through the centuries, modified by Vatican II. One of the things I like about going to Episcopal services is that they resonate with the rituals remembered from childhood. I enjoyed today the Kyrie and the readings, the Gospel and the sermon. I warmed to the fact the priest was a woman, Mother Eileen, and that a gay man was being called to be a sub-deacon.

So far from the Catholic Church I knew and while Roman Catholicism is having its “Francis Moment” there is still much healing to be done within the religion. While it is moderately more progressive than it was a few years ago, it’s still far way from where I would want it to be and so I stay away for the most part.

Yet if someone to ask me my religion, I would probably say Catholic. I think once a Catholic always a Catholic. You might worship in another denomination’s house but your heart stays with the Church – or at least mine does.

But until Catholicism accepts and loves and tolerates more than it does today, I will remain Catholic in my heart but not in my practice.

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