Once again I’m joining a group of writers for Five Minute Friday. Five minutes, one writing prompt, zero editing. Just write. Join us! Today’s prompt: COLLECT

Since this is about my Catholic upbringing, first a confession: I went over five minutes. There, I feel better.  🙂

One of my first memories of going to church was with my grandparents. They were Catholic, my mom was Catholic, and so – *poof* – I was Catholic.

I went to Catholic school for six years (junior high and high school) and became very involved in youth group. I consistently went to Mass (sometimes only because Sr. Thomas Moore scared the crud outta me) graduated and went to college. It was my first public education experience since I was 10 and it was noticeably different. Throughout college I became increasingly uncomfortable with what felt like hypocrisy on my part. I was saying and praying what we, as a parish believed (I didn’t really have a sense of being connected to a church world larger than the parish) while trying to come to grips with feeling deeply that I didn’t actually believe all of the things I was saying.

(I won’t go into details here and I truly don’t wish to offend anyone.)

In a word, I lapsed. I went to church once in a while, always on holy days, and continued to pursue my faith outside the walls of the church. I realized that I still had that “God-sized hole” in my heart and soul that could not otherwise be filled or satisfied but I didn’t know how or where to do that. I missed many things about the church, the most surprising of which was the familiarity of the liturgy.

It took a funeral mass for a relative to make me realize how deeply those Catholic roots ran. I remember opening my mouth at the beginning of certain prayers or during a call and response and having the words just flow out of me as easily as when I had to study them in school. That prayer muscle memory came to life and I effortlessly slipped back in to belonging in that group.

Had I been asked to recite some of those prayers alone, I probably would’ve failed. But standing in a large cathedral, participating in the rituals that were so deeply ingrained, I was able to re-enter the space that seemed forever reserved for me. I didn’t have to consciously think about it; I just *poof* was back in that familiar rhythm.

It continues today, when I find myself in a church similar to my childhood, that I am not just transported back to anything, rather I am reconnected to something that is still a part of me.

That’s why, when I saw the FMF prompt, I had an immediate reaction and then just as quickly, I tried to argue myself out of it. I saw the prompt and my head said COLLect, with the emphasis on the first syllable. As in a structured prayer that has several specific parts which sort of sum up the prayers of the people. Verrry loosely described (CCD was a long time ago) it has an introductory address (Almighty and merciful God…) an acknowledgement (who is worthy of all praise…) a petition (grant us your peace and forgiveness…) a desired result (that we might share that peace with others…) ending with a doxology (the fifty cent word I remember from catechism (through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you…)

There are many things that come to mind when I think of the word collECT. I once loosely collected hearts (until I was then constantly gifted with them and it got out of hand). During a particularly irresponsible time in college, I had a debt sent to collections and was mortified at my immature carelessness. On hikes, I like to collect little bits of stone, feathers, leaves, and such as I’m walking because I never know what little treasures I’ll find. Back in the olden days, I was even known to make an occasional collect call. And one of my favorite Scriptures of all time, speaks of a collection as well.

But after all this time, amid the countless memories and options, my brain opted for a snapshot of a time that is both far away and right here in front of me. A tiny speck in a much larger picture, but one that still guides me with the precision of a compass pointing at true north, and always lead me home.







10 thoughts on “C-O-L-L-E-C-T”

  1. Patricia, I loved the honesty and transparency here.

    I came to Catholicism through Zen Buddhism, and practice both today (yes, you can, without heresy on either side…Christianity is faith, Buddhism is a way of living temporally).

    I don’t think that a Buddhist CAN come to know Christ except through the ‘mechanics’ of the Catholic church. Be an interesting subject for a future blog post.

    #1 at FMF this week.


  2. Thank you for sharing your heart. My mom grew up Catholic too where it was just something to do. I love how you broke up the word too. kinda cool. thanks for visiting my blog. have a good weekend


  3. Thanks for sharing part of your story. I really loved your insights into what a collect is a prayer. I went to an Anglican church where they used them for a while but I didn’t realise there was a particular structure that was followed so it’s interesting to learn more about that.


  4. Patricia, I grew up Catholic too. I went to a parochial elementary school. My parents spared me the torture (because of the girls, not the school or practices) of going to a Catholic all-girls high school. But, I remember going to mass with my family when I was a girl. Receiving my first holy communion, doing my first confession . . . those things laid the foundation for me to better understand what having a genuine relationship with Jesus looks like.

    Thanks so much for sharing a part of your story. It’s beautiful.


    1. Thanks for your kind thoughts Jeanne. I too like to think of my Catholic past as laying a foundation for today. Have a lovely weekend.


  5. When I looked up the word “collect,” I came across the definition including a prayer at the start of a service. In some services I have attended, there was a prayer much like you described. Until I read the definition, I didn’t know it had it’s own word. Reading your story put into context.

    I love the picture of community in that the togetherness helped you remember what you might have missed alone. Community is so necessary.

    Thank you for telling your story. (It needed more than 5. Glad you didn’t cut it short.)



Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s