17 November 2013

Break-up of the ice

We do not know what consequences our actions will have.  I was determined, now, to enter the Catholic Church.  I had told God I would because I believed - and believe - that I could not be faithful to Him in any other way.  None of us, however, lives in isolation from others.

When, at Christmas, 1993, I had told my children what was going on with me, they were, I think, principally excited.  All this, after all, was not at the time to make any practical difference in our lives.  We continued to attend 10AM and 5PM services at the Pukekohe Reformed Church.  Our children's friends remained those in the church.  The thought was, perhaps, titillating that dad was thinking what were, after all, from the Reformed point of view, outrageous thoughts.

Now it would be different.  I do not remember when, exactly, I told them what I had decided.  When I had come back from Wellington, things were very busy with rehearsals for, and then performances of, The King and I.  This time Johnny was playing clarinet in the orchestra as well.  As always, Helen and Adele played in the orchestra.  I think that Eddie was not involved - unless he had an acting part in it?

Anyway, we were all very busy.  The shows typically played every evening except Monday for two weeks - and a Sunday matinée as well.  I remember playing my music and feeling, at times, as though my whole world was spinning around me.  What would the consequences in fact be?  Would my family follow me into the Church?  Would it break us up?

Sometime in August I told them.  I said to them that this was a decision that I had made; that it was my decision for myself; that they were all old enough that I could not suggest there was any requirement for them to become Catholics as well; and that I would support any of them who wished to remain in the Reformed Church.  This was true for Sue as well as she was definitely unsure of her own position in the matter.

I told Mark Shea and other Internet friends of my decision.  I told, also, some of my close Reformed friends.  It was certainly upsetting to them.  Of half-dozen families in the Reformed Church close to us at the time, two eventually entered the Catholic Church; two families left the Reformed Church for the Anglican Church; one left any Christian association entirely; one remained Reformed.  How much of this would have happened if we had not become Catholic, I cannot say but I think these actions were not unrelated to ours.

I had told my children.  I had told some Reformed friends close to us.  I had not told my pastor.

Reformed and Presbyterian churches are governed by elders.  All elders are on a level with one another with one exception: certain elders - typically only one in a particular church, but not necessarily - are licensed to preach.  Non-preaching elders are sometimes referred to as ruling elders.  In the Pukekohe church, there were, at the time, I think four or five elders, including the preaching elder.  Different families were assigned to different elders as their pastor.  Ours was Roel (pronounced 'rule' - it's a Dutch name).

Roel was a wonderful man and I was so glad that he was our pastor.  He and I shared many interests.  He was the one who had come to see me at Christmas, 1993, to talk about my 'Catholic problem.'  Now I had decided that I must become a Catholic.  It was with some dread (for I knew how upset he would be) that I 'phoned him, sometime in September, asking for a meeting to discuss 'an important matter.'

He couldn't make it in August; perhaps September.  There was a fairly major shakeup going on in the Reformed Churches of New Zealand at the time, with a congregation in process of breaking from the denomination.  Roel was very much involved in this.  I let things ride.

I let things ride as much from cowardice as anything.  I knew that if I told him the reason I wanted to meet with him because I was going to become a Catholic, he would be with me immediately.  I rationalised the decision to tell him what the matter was only face to face.

Communion was celebrated in our church once every two months.  October came 'round - Communion month.  Should I commune?

I did.  I am sure that fear was the primary motivation here.  But I was very upset at the thought.  October passed.  November went by.  December was here - and December was to be another Communion month.  I knew that I could delay no longer.

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