Last week I sent an email with the subject line “Some Questions about Becoming Catholic” that began with these lines:
So I find myself wondering how it is that one starts an email to a priest, and then laughing as I realize that if you had told me five years ago that I’d been wondering that, I wouldn’t have believed you.
Several days later, even after receiving a response to this email, I find myself flabbergasted by the very reality that I sent an email to a priest.
I grew up in the evangelical world. My dad was a pastor, so I know the ins and outs of interacting with protestant leadership. The idea of interacting with a priest though? Weird! They’ve always seemed unapproachable, and, if I’m really honest, there’s just enough of my protestant background left in me that the idea of interacting in any form with a priest feels like some sort of experiment that I need to do on the down-low – one of those things that it’s just better if you don’t talk about in public.
And I’ve got to say that the idea of referring to a priest as father seems weird to me too. Not because I don’t understand the origins of the term, but again because I come from a world that doesn’t attach titles. I’ve never even referred to my pastor as “Pastor So and So”. I just called him or her by their first name. I don’t find it quite as difficult to spit out the word “Father” when I’m dealing with an older man, but it just seems odd to refer to someone approximately my age as “Father So and So”.
I suppose I’d better get over these rather humorous hang-ups in an expedient fashion! Next week I’m meeting with the very priest I emailed last weekend, to discuss next steps in joining the Catholic church. It probably wouldn’t be great if I choked on his name when I meet him! (Though I suspect that corralling my internal sense of humor, while thinking about this goofy little issue, will be much more difficult that corralling the outward expression of that!)
It’s nice to find things in this journey to laugh about. There haven’t always been a lot of those, and the idea of breaking this weird mental taboo of talking to a priest, and calling him “Father” is one that has given me giggles all day today as I considered it!