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Rachel's Church Fail

I always go to church on Christmas Eve.  Michael goes to his extended family's party and I walk to church (we generally only have one car).  This year we moved to a new town, and its very close to our old town, but its REALLY far when you are walkingOur town only has one church, and its Catholic.

I am not Catholic.  I have never been in a Catholic church before, other than to listen to music one time.  Like I said, Michael goes to his family thing, so I always go to Christmas Eve service by myself, and usually its not a problem.  This time was different.

It was really cold outside, so I bundled up and walked to church.  As soon as I walked in I was uncomfortable.  There was an angel statue in the entry that was holding some (what I am assuming was) holy water.  There was a sponge in it, and people stopped by it, but I had no idea what it was for, or what they were doing, so I just walked by it.  Then I noticed the people in front of me were kneeling before they got into the pews.  I didn't know why they were doing this, so I just looked around the very crowded church confused, until an older lady motioned that I could sit next to her.  I did, and I didn't kneel because I don't like to do things if I don't know why I am doing them.
The entire service was a little odd to me, because the participation rate was really low (no one seemed to sing), and I couldn't tell when people were praying.  I think we were praying, but then I would look around to double check and no one had closed eyes or bowed heads, so I wasn't sure.  Then there were some chant-like things, which were foreign to me.  I don't really do well in situations where I feel lost, so I was barely holding it together through the service.

Then disaster struck.  Or rather it was time for Communion.  I have taken Communion in numerous churches, and never had an issue with it.  However, I know that you have to be baptized Catholic and take classes and stuff in order to take Communion in a Catholic church.  I also know that the congregation files in front of the priest and is given the wine and wafer.  What I didn't know was how to NOT take Communion.  I didn't know if I was supposed to file through and say "No thank you" or just stay seated.  

So I did the rational thing and had a panic attack.  The priest was talking, and I was on the very edge of tears.  I got up and started to walk out.  Rude?  Undoubtedly.  Pretty much the only option at that point, unless I wanted to make a scene bawling in church?  Most definitely.  

It can't get much worse right?  WRONG!  I dropped my gloves when I got out of my seat.  Now I know all of about two people in the town I live in.  And who do you think should notice that I dropped them, when I am almost out of the church?  My neighbor from across the street.  He quietly points it out to me that I dropped them, so I turn around, and numerous other people have noticed as well.  I turn around and go get them, fighting back tears as best I can.  Then I literally RUN out of the church, and as soon as I get out the door I burst into tears.  By the time I am out of the parking lot I have tears and snot all over my face.  And I want to die of embarrassment.
Stupid Gloves!

Panic attacks are not uncommon for me, anytime I feel overwhelmed by a social situation I tend to break down.  The first time my mom sent me to get her oil changed I never even made it in the shop, I just sat in her van crying because I didn't know where to park.  When the grocery store is overcrowded, I tend to grab what I need and then go cry in the carI am used to it.  It doesn't even embarrass me.  This time it really did.  Usually my meltdowns are not rude or disrespectful, I just look like a crazy person.  But I am pretty sure that what I did was the epitome of rude, which makes me feel terrible.  Plus now my neighbor thinks (knows?) I am a crazy person...

What is your most embarrassing moment?  

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  1. Oh I have many embarrassing moments. I have come to understand that it's just apart of life! It builds character. I have to say that I think you are quite brave! I dont think i would have made in door had i not been prepped of the dos and don'ts. I actually grew up Catholic but now I am a Calvary chapel girl. I can understand your delema.

    1. I didn't really think much of it, I'm certainly not usually brave lol. Like I said I go by myself every year and I've been to tons of different denominations of churches. I didn't really realize that Catholic church would be SO different from the other churches.

  2. Rachel you seem to have a good sense of humour about it though. I can understand how uncomfortable that would be and I agree with Teresa it was brave of you to head out into uncharted territory so to speak! Hoping this years Christmas Eve is much better. ~Cheryl

    1. Michael said he would go with me next year, which would be better. And if he changes his mind I am stealing the car from him and going to a more familiar church. As far as the sense of humor, sometimes all you can do is laugh at yourself :) Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  3. You and I seem to have the same way of handling situations, breaking down and crying.
    I have nothing against Catholic churches but am uncomfortable in them as well. My two oldest step-daughters are Catholic and go to a private Catholic school. It's all good and fine, until me and their dad have to go to school events or special church events. We are two fish out of water and it seems we are the only two in the entire place that have no clue what we're doing. It's awkward for sure. Good thing we love those girls!

    1. It is nice that you go. I have a really hard time doing things that make me uncomfortable. Thanks for stopping by and commenting :)

  4. Rachel,
    As someone who converted from Baptist to Catholic after marrying my husband, I understand how uncomfortable it can be to attend a church you are unfamiliar with. Most Catholic churches will have what is called a missalette in the pew in front of you, it has the readings and prayers for the Mass. As far as Communion, you have two options, remain seated or walk through the church with those receiving Communion but cross your arms and place your hands on the opposite shoulders (left hand on right shoulder, right on left)as you get to the priest or minister of communion. They will then offer you a blessing instead of a wafer. Christmas Eve mass is usually extremely full, and no one expects everyone to "know the rules" that night. I'm sure that aside from your neighbor noticing you had dropped your gloves, no one in there gave it a second thought. I'm glad you were brave enough to attempt it!

    1. Thanks for the advice and kind words :) I really appreciate it!

  5. Hi, Rachel, I just found your blog. I'm sorry that you had this experience when you visited a Catholic church. I am Catholic and I can completely understand how confusing it can be. There are spoken portions of the Mass which aren't specifically prayers, but they are recited by the whole congregation. The Catholic Church recently began using a new translation of the Mass, so that is why you may have seem some people not saying the words or the responses. We are all still getting used to the new translation. That may have also been the reason that people were not singing. Some of the music has changed also and people are always hesitant when they don't know the songs. I hope that you will visit again and feel welcome to pray and worship. I am enjoying your blog and will visit again. Regards, Tam

    1. The Catholic churchs changes everything all at once right? So that its pretty similar in every church? Like the Mass in New York would be very close to the same as a Mass in California? I bet that is really confusing to people that have been Catholic forever! Thanks for stopping by and visiting :) And I plan to go back next Christmas Eve (just not by myself) and try again!

  6. I could have "warned you" I've been to a catholic church before and know that the services are vastly different from what you and I are used to.
    The communion thing got me when I went to a catholic church to. I was thinking "Well, I'm saved, I should take communion, but I don't want to make a scene about it".
    Fortunately I wasn't the only one who didn't "partake" so it wasn't like I was the only one still sitting in the pew.
    I freak out in the situations you listed too. One time, I was delivering pizzas and I couldn't find the house, then... when I found it, it was all dark, and I had to walk down an ally to get to it. I didn't feel safe so I just sat in my car and cried.
    Crowded stores also freak me out, I tend to try to be there early in the morning before it gets crazy. I also try to buy a lot of my Christmas presents and stuff online, for this reason.

  7. Oh my goodness! I, too, suffer from social anxiety and panic attacks so I can understand where you're coming from. I'm so sorry you had such a bad experience here!

    Thanks for linking up at Thriving Thursdays! I hope you'll continue :)

  8. I just loved this post. I've been in situations where I'm uncomfortable too and can definitely empathize with you! And BTW, I'm one of the crazies and cry when overwhelmed too. :)


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