At work, I live and breathe Catholic theology. I edit books on Church history, apologetics, and doctrine. But at home, my religious discussions with my Episcopalian husband are usually limited to my revisiting a topic that perennially confuses me. For no particular reason, I’ll fix a furrowed brow on him and ask:
“Do you know who founded the Catholic Church?”
“Do you know who founded your Church?”
“Yup. Henry the Eighth.”
“And you’re OK with that?”
Every Lent, though, the poor man has to remind me that Episcopalians are not precisely the unchurched pagans I am sometimes guilty of imagining them to be. As we sat down to dinner last night, I apologized for the fish: “Sorry. It’s a Catholic/Lent thing.” My youngest and I exchanged a glance that communicated a certain superiority and pity for the man’s soul.
“I know. We do Lent, too.”
“No, you don’t.”
“Yes, we do.”
“Are you sure?”
“Pretty sure, yeah.”
We seem to focus so much on what separates us from other people—nationality, creed, political views, dietary habits—that it is always a surprise, somehow, to see how much we share with one another. This Lent, I’m going to dust off some of those comparative theology textbooks and try to understand a little more about beliefs that are unfamiliar to me. Meanwhile, I hope to invite a few neighbors to Mass so they can learn a little about the faith I cherish.
Who knows? By Easter, I might be charitable enough to roast up a big Henry VIII-style turkey leg for my groom.