The Apostolate of the Laity

Waxing philosophical in communion with one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

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Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

I am just a sinner who holds fast to the notion that every human being on the planet is the result of a thought of God.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Hindu and the Homie

Of the nearly 400 people who came to mass at St. Cecilia's Catholic Church in Beaverton, Oregon, this last Saturday afternoon only a dozen were Catholic. And while there were a few Christians of Protestant denominations present, the vast majority of the congregation on this particular day were Hindu from India and Fiji. They had gathered together in a foreign church with awkward customs and difficult beliefs in order to bear witness to the marriage of one of their own, a beautiful young woman who will turn twenty-one in December. The women were dressed in colorful saris and many bore ornate, traditional, temporary henna tattoos that they received at the bride's mehendi party the previous evening.

The twenty-two-year-old groom's side was less well represented. Though of Hispanic origin, their Catholic roots did not run very deep. Dad was a lapsed Catholic and Mom had left the faith to witness for Jehovah for a period of time, but was now largely non-committed to any denomination. The predominant faith that seemed to stand out were the groomsmen who were as near as one could tell, wanna-be-gangsters, though none looked hardened by a life of crime but rather fashioned by an overdose of MTV and MySpace.

So how on Earth did a Hindu and a Homie ever get together to get married in the Catholic Church? The answer lies with the Divine. About a year ago, the couple, after dating for a little over a year, decided it was time to get married. They were inspired that they wanted to get married in a church. After checking out several Protestant churches, they discovered St. Cecilia's, which is a traditional-looking house of worship. In order to get married in the Church they would of course have to become Catholic, which led them to the parish's RCIA program, which in turn led them into the lives of my wife and me.

Over the last year we have come to know and love this couple. They're young, blissfully ignorant and in some ways remind us of how we were when we were their age. Both of their families openly disapproved of the relationship, and each experienced an unhealthy dose of passive aggression. That may have been what caused them to adopt us as their Godparents. We were interested in them as a couple without all the baggage. We were a kind of safe harbor lit by the light of Christ for them to go to as they weathered the storms of their respective families.

It was a challenging year with them. They missed many RCIA classes so the catechesis was done more on a one-on-one basis. We addressed the whole sexual relationship thing by getting them into Christopher West's, Created and Redeemed series on John Paul II's Theology of the Body. We offered them our love, advice, and good amount of prayer. We worried about them; stressed over them; coached them; scolded them; laughed with them; and most of all simply accepted them into our hearts where we pray Christ dwells. We both were misty-eyed when they were baptized and confirmed at the Easter Vigil, and have been heartened by their continuing to go to mass on Sunday's.

Yesterday, we watched them confer the sacrament of marriage upon each other. In front of several hundred non-believers, who are an extraordinarily loving people in their own right; in front of their parents who raised them differently; they stepped out of communion with all of them and reaffirmed their communion with the mystical body of Christ. I admire their sand for standing for their newly formed faith, and I greatly admire how they continued to show all due respect to their families, and how in the end, their families respected them.

My prayer is that Christ will continue to prevail in the hearts of this young couple. They have many challenges ahead of them, and while yesterday was a culmination of sorts of year's worth of ministry by my wife and me, I know that the Holy Spirit played the biggest role in bringing them together and will guide them as they continue their realization of this awesome Christ mystery.


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