Monday, December 13, 2004

Losing My Religion

Let me just start by saying that I was born and raised Catholic. I was baptized, had First Communion, and was Confirmed, the three biggies. I attended private Catholic schools from grades 1-12. We went to Church every week, the Saturday 5:30 mass since it was less crowded. This was post Vatican II, and Mass was for the most part comforting, I especially liked the singing, I always have. I was taught religion every single day in elementary school, I know the Bible very very well, and was required in high school to take a class pertaining to religion once a year. My grandparents are highly active in the Catholic Church, my grandfather has been an usher for over 20 years.

So what happened? In high school, I began to get too "busy" for Church. It wasn't a true rejection of the Church, I just couldn't be bothered to find the time for it. Between playing club volleyball, studying, and hanging out with friends, Church was really low on the list of priorities. I just sort of drifted away, although our school would hold Masses at each holiday, and for other special occasions, such as graduation.

College was a continuation of the "better things to do" train of thought. Then one semester I signed up for a criminal justice class. It had a lot to do with sex and crime and the courts, and was probably one of the most interesting classes I have ever taken. Each class had guest speakers, ranging from prostitutes to people who claimed to have been molested by Catholic priests. Mind you, this was in 1996, way before any of these huge stories had broken in the media and these poor people stood before us and told us their tales of anguish. The pain in their eyes and in their very being was evident to even the most brash and cocky cop-wannabe taking the class. I came away shattered and crying from that class, there was NO DOUBT WHATSOEVER in my mind that these poeople were telling the truth.

It was after that when I really began examining the Catholic Church and the way it did business. I don't mean to offend any practicing Catholics, but they definitely seem to regard it as a business. There began to be more and more things about the Church that I did not agree with, such as celibacy for nuns and priests which I regard as not necessary. I do not agree with their stance on divorce, although that is very laxly enforced these days. I do not agree with their forbidding the use of birth control, even in a marriage. I do not agree with the fact that women are not allowed to be celebrants. I do not agree with the current Pope and many of his edicts. I especially do not agree with the way the Church has handled the molestation cases, going so far as to obstruct justice in many instances.

Now that I have a son, I am thinking very hard about religion and what place it should have in our family's life. I think religion and the community that goes with it are very important to a child, and my husband agrees. We both were raised Catholic, it is really the only religion we know. Are we huge hypocrites if we attend a Catholic Church, not agreeing with many issues of Church canon? Are we worse if we "shop around" for a church that we feel comfortable in that is not Catholic? Or should it really be all about the individual church that you attend, regardless of affiliation?

I am wrestling with these questions and more, and there are no easy answers. I want to do what is best for my son, but I don't know what that is right now.


Ron said...

Shop around. I know we have lots of "recovering" Catholics in my protestant church. IMHO, you should always be comfortable in your church. My church lets up be who we are, there is no pomp and circumstance, if I want to show up in jeans and a t-shirt, nobody cares.

Gina said...

Thanks for your input, Ron. Looking at different churches is definitely an option that I am favoring at this point. I am glad that you have a Church in which you are comfortable and enjoy going to!