I am always trying to stand, straddling the Tiber - one foot on one side of the Tiber with the Protestant friends of my past worship experience - the other foot on the other side of the Tiber in Rome. I am, for the first time in my life, almost speechless. Speechless because there are no words adequate enough to say what we have discovered, so that others will understand and appreciate our Catholic journey. It just never comes out so others understand.
I am thinking that becoming a Catholic reminded me a lot of Willy Wonka and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Have you seen the old movie? Not the book - the movie? If you have seen the movie, you will remember when the gates were opened Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder) came out to greet everyone. It was such an exciting time! Everyone who had the "Golden Ticket" went in with Willie Wonka - remember that? Remember the beauty and the color? Remember the music? They had music and beauty and color! It was delicious! You could taste it!
The beauty of the Catholic Church, and the worship upon entering, has been like this for us. More than colored candy, for sure, but there was something awesome about going into that Chocolate Factory with Charlie and his Grandfather. Remember how wide-eyed Charlie was? Room after room - after room - after room - the doors opened! Each room was more beautifully exciting than the room before. There was such great anticipation. Charlie and his Grandfather saw such beauty in all of the rooms! They both were sharing and loving the experience.
In our many years of strong Protestant Christian faith, we had always experienced great love of the Lord and sharing with others in that faith. We knew Christian love. Charlie and his Grandfather had known real love within their family. They had true love in their home; they were poor but they had love! They had a most loving family! Remember? The Grandparents (all four of them) slept in the same bed? Foot to foot? How close can you be? However, at the Chocolate Factory both Charlie and his Grandfather shared a new experience that was amazing. They had found the Golden Ticket.
The interesting thing is that you, as a viewer of the movie, become very aware that there was such a lack of color in their lives before they went into the colorful factory. After Charlie and his Grandfather followed Willie Wonka into the factory it seemed that color just burst through every place they looked. There was joy and amazement at every turn. There was awe! There was music!
In our journey, God has not changed, however, we have changed so much. We had missed the beauty in worship; we had missed all the beauty more than we knew. We truly had missed the awe. As in the film about Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, we had not fully known the lack of color until we saw the beauty of color.
Now it is like heaven practice to have such beauty, such color, and such music in our worship. We found the Golden Ticket!
January 7, 2005