My Catholic Habit

Lately, it seems like Sunday is a day of anything but rest. Sunday is the day when I wake up feeling angry, frustrated, silenced, unknown and anonymous. Discarded, pushed out, alone. After the massive clusterfuck that was 2006-2008, I actually said that I didn’t believe in God anymore. And then I spent a year singing a mass led by a man whom I find it impossible to respect. I tried. I hoped. I prayed. I sang and sang and sang. In the end, the entire church got handed over to this person, and people who had spent nearly a decade worshiping and loving and living along with us were gone. Scattered. It became increasingly clear that our home was no longer a home. We would no longer attend this church. I flirted with the idea of not attending any church, of embracing the ‘just be a good person’ agnosticism of our friends. I can’t say that I wasn’t delighted by the prospect of never again being judged by the self-appointed ‘Mommy police’ who loved to gloat and criticize and shame me on our every meeting. But i just couldn’t kill that little sprig of hope saying, maybe it could be better. Maybe this is the time when religion seems to really work out. Maybe. So our church shopping adventures began.

It is true that not every problem with our old church belongs to that dude. There is no youth programming at our old church, and therefore, no youth. A handful of people under the age of 10 does not a demanding demographic make. Our active preschooler was bored and we spent the entire hour chasing him instead of enjoying the mass in any way. There were cracks in the golden bowl, so to speak. And then that guy with his manipulative and insulting behavior took a sledgehammer to it. I wasn’t really ready to leave, and I know that Mr. K wasn’t ready either, given the way he steadfastly refuses to attend any new church with me. (Or by himself, for that matter.) For all it’s faults and judging and oldness and lack of opportunities, it was home. It was home in a way beyond understanding. So, why I am searching so hard for a new church? Why does it even matter, when the truth is my religious beliefs can only nominally be described as Catholic?

I don’t know. I have come to believe that attending mass is something that I need, much like exercise or time alone or time with friends, to get myself ballasted against the swells of daily life. It’s not a rational, intellectual exercise. In fact, it is something beyond rational. I need ritual. I need rite. I need to feel the vibration in my sternum of hundreds of people speaking together, joined in a singular purpose for 60 minutes. I need to sing – oh, how I need to sing. I need to be tied to something older and wiser and bigger than myself. When I am stressed, when I am burdened, it soothes me. Except for now, when it all feels so foreign and not homelike enough and I sense my existential loneliness in a new and even more distressing way.

So there it is. I don’t really buy that Mary was ever-virgin, even though I appreciate the ‘virgin meant whole, entire, not in a genital sense’ apologists. I don’t believe that only men should be priests, and I’m deeply mistrustful of ministers of any doctrine and the Catholic hierarchy in particular. I am skeptical as to the meaning of Christ and I steadfastly refuse to believe in Hell as something that exists outside of the immediate here and now. Until we can provide true agency and equality for women, we have no business outlawing abortion and even then… even then I’m not convinced that it couldn’t be a moral choice. A devastating and heartbreaking choice, but not inherently evil. I am deeply frightened and enraged by the Republican Party and the Tea Party in particular. I know there are many who would say without hesitation that these statements mean that I am not a Catholic, that I have no business calling myself a Catholic. And yet… I just can’t quit it. Where is the church that is calling me to come home? Who wants such an unorthodox postmodern liberal feminist as a parishioner? One who believes God has bigger things to worry about than her foul language?

Who wants to be our new family?


2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    lauraloops said,

    I can be your new family! However, I prefer to worship at the house of “Hot tea, the newspaper and CBS Sunday Morning in PJs.” There is room for everyone, since I have two couches, four dining room chairs and a camp chair or two. I do not, however, profess to be unjudgeful, but you knew that already 🙂

  2. 2

    anonymousk said,

    I love your offer but I think you are most definitely already my family, so…. 😉

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