Posts Tagged ‘family’

Yes I’m talking to you, my darlings. (PINT)

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

Kyrie Eleison*

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

Another Sunday.

Another day that this family is not going to go to Mass. I wake up every Sunday with the same thought: “Ugh. Sunday. We should go to church. But I can’t do it. I just can’t.” At the risk of running afoul of two sets of grandparents, we are not going to go to church again today. And though I’d like to say that I’m good with that decision, Guilt is a weekly visitor.

We are not atheists. Both my husband and I were raised Catholic, being dragged driven to Mass every Sunday until we went to college — a Jesuit Catholic college at that. But like many teenagers turned loose at college, neither he nor I attended Mass with any regularity for most of those four years, although Husband did — in his senior year — complete the sacrament of Confirmation (which had, I believe, been left incomplete because of a family move from Brazil to the Unites States). We were married in the same Catholic church that I had attended growing up, and attended various parishes in the towns that we lived as young marrieds/young marrieds with young children. I know that I had a growing dissatisfaction with The Church for many years, but I really didn’t articulate it to myself — or out loud — until the months after September 11th.

For me, there was foreshadowing that my relationship with Catholicism wouldn’t be simple or rewarding. My parents, for example, drove for miles outside of our normal parish when I was a child — and although I don’t recall hearing the reasons why as a child, I understood that there was something “not good” about our local parish (later confirmed to be the nut of a pastor, who would do things like lock the doors after Mass had started to reinforce the virtue of punctuality in his flock). (Also, years later in order to get married in my adopted childhood parish, I had to get documentation from my local parish (with Father BeOnTime) that “released” me from this church. “Ridiculous” doesn’t even convey how stupid this requirement was.)

Mass with one two three four small children isn’t easy, and for many years my husband and I did it as a weekly performance (at least that’s what I felt like it was). Nothing spiritual could happen in our pew, because we were consumed with keeping the Baby quiet and the toddlers content. We didn’t pray along with the congregation, we prayed that Mass would end soon and we would get out without someone having a breakdown (namely, Mom or Dad). It was stressful and exhausting, instead of peaceful, restorative, recharging — which is what I wanted it (needed it) to be.

During the weekend Mass immediately after September 11th, in my small suburban NJ church (which had lost parishioners, by the way), the pastor or someone made the insane decision to allow a deacon to provide the Homily during the 10:30 am service (a deacon is a lay person {man, of course}, who serves as an assistant to the priest). This man had the chutzpah to stand on the altar and discuss how — 5 days from the event — the US had brought this upon herself, because we were a nation of pornographers and abortionists….I was dumbfounded and turned to my husband in the pew and said, in a normal speaking tone, “Is he serious?” I’d like to tell you that we stood up and left, but the truth is I don’t remember (recall the small children in the pew with me, and the stressful exhausting characteristics of Mass for us).

I do know that I called the parish office the next day and withdrew my offer to teach Kindergarten CCD. I told them that I could not stand at the front of a classroom and teach doctrine to small children when I was horrified by what had happened the day before, dismayed that My Church would somehow endorse that viewpoint by not retracting his statements somehow. We had baby #4, born in May of 2002, baptized at a different parish….but our (my) insistence on Sunday Mass waned considerably.

Of course, that was 9 years ago and I’m older and less naive these days. That deacon was just a symptom of a larger institutional arrogance that continues to dismay me. The Catholic Church is in the business of preaching and liturgy, and yet in parish after parish after parish men are put on the altar to speak to us of God’s love — and they can’t string a coherent sentence together. (If there were performance reviews in the Catholic Church there’d be no one left to preach. Mediocre would be a huge step up, honestly.) And the music? While not uniformly horrible, you can’t get through a Mass without including music from c. 1750.  (And, hello? How about a hymn from the 20th century? How Great Thou Art, Amazing Grace and Ode to Joy are lovely but 1,000 years old. Ugh.)

I do want to go to church, but I want to go to a church that values everyone — the way Jesus did. I want to go to a church that doesn’t hide behind statements like “if the Holy Spirit wants women priests, there will be women priests.” (Yes, a priest told me that.) I want to go to a church that accepts responsibility for the actions of its principals (call the police about a pedophile priest instead of a moving truck, for crying out loud). I want to go to a church that functions as a source of helpfulness and healing — that understands that AIDS and overpopulation can be helped by condoms and contraception, and that these two C’s are way less evil than human beings becoming disenfranchised because of disease, poverty, and discrimination.

I want to be a part of a church that values me, my daughters, my gay neighbors, and my neighbors of different faiths. I don’t want to hear about what makes us different or wrong or less than, couched in language of “scripture” or “canon law.” I am happy for those, like my mother and my in-laws, who find comfort, strength and community in their parishes. Perhaps we will too, when the kids have grown and I’ve mellowed a bit.

But for now, I just can’t. So I’m having Guilt again today with my morning coffee.

*Greek, Lord have mercy.

Oops — in my zeal to get this post up, I neglected to note that it’s also part of Word Up, YO! Join in the fun…

Related Posts with Thumbnails

© 2010-2017 Common Sense, Dancing All Rights Reserved (Translated: The content's mine. Stealing isn't nice.)