*Warning: Spiritual and Religious Musings Ahead
In a discussion about the placement of the altar between a Protestant Pastor and Catholic laymen for the different services, the Protestant Pastor stated he wanted the altar pushed back to allow walking room because “we don’t do much from the altar.”
This phrase echoed over and over again as I left, got in my car, and drove home. It bothered me deeply, but it seemed to sum up the whole of why I am walking away from the gnosticism that is the Protestant understanding of Christianity.
There are many reasons for my leaving the Protestant church, but this phrase -“we don’t do much from the altar“- drove home the sum of it all.
In Catholicism, we come to meet with God. We come to see Christ. The altar, the Eucharist is the pinnacle of the entire Mass. We are brought, not to find first community, social acceptance, entertainment, novelty, or the like, but rather we are brought to see Christ.
From the Protestant perspective, when I ask, why church?, I would find answers revolving around the gathering of the saints, community, mutual fellowship, all precursors to finally hearing, to worship God. In Protestantism I have found a focus on novelty: power point presentations, entertaining music with the latest sound enhancing gadgets, flat-screen monitors, hi-techery, entertaining and engaging sermons. All of it meant to entertain and draw in seekers so that they might come to find God.
It is here where communities grow; from worship style.
It is as if God is not enough; even boring. God, in this context, is not enough in and of Himself to draw Man to Himself. And so, we don’t do much from the altar because we must do what God is too impotent to do Himself. We must give enticing, entertaining, and novel reasons for people to come to church and buy the god we are selling.
I can’t accept this. I can’t in good conscience be a part of this. I no longer want anything to do with the Protestant circus freakshow pedaling glitter covered shit in order to trick people into finding God.
It is why I have come to this place of conversion into the historical Catholic church which centers around the altar; faithfully believing that we have come to meet with God. That we have come to join with the saints and the angels to worship and receive Christ -Word made flesh.
No parlor tricks. No novelty. No charismatic speakers who hinge upon jokes and charm. Just me joining with the faithful to receive Christ, proclaim faith, and then be commanded to go and live out the Gospel. And from this community grows – bound together in and through Christ.
Yes, pastor, you are correct. You don’t do much from the altar.