Sunday, January 16, 2011
There. I Said It.
I'm Catholic. There. I said it. I make no bones about it, but I do at times grow weary of hearing the term "Recovering Catholic" and the laughter that follows, and I get bothered by remarks I overhear from others who lend their sensitivity to almost every other group of people but we Catholics. I do not think my Catholic faith makes me better than anyone else. I do not think I hold prejudices towards other faiths. I am not defending anyone who may have been too strict with the baby boomers in their Catholic schools, and I have little to say about any other hurt that others may have faced in their Catholic upbringing. However, my experience was much different. My Catholic upbringing shaped who I am and gave me incredible gifts. I only want to be accepted as a Catholic woman. I only want to be treated with kindness and understanding. Whoa. I realize I am becoming defensive. I don't like that. Let me try to explain how I got here.
I was raised in a Catholic family. My parents took me to church every Sunday and on every Holy Day. We also went to Mass on occasional First Fridays or at other times during Lent. My Mom was my CCD teacher for awhile and we'd meet after school at my house where we'd snack on rice-crispy squares before sitting down to learn a lesson and do a related activity. Going to church for me was never a chore. My friends went to church too. It was as natural a childhood event as was going to school.
When I was a little girl, I had a red Catholic picture bible. I read it cover to cover and to this day, I still think of its illustrations when I hear a particular bible story. In addition to playing House and School, I played Church. (Of course I also played Office and Taxi and Newspaper but those are stories for another day!) I remember taking down the long pillows that made up our den's day bed and using them as pews. I'd squish white bread to make hosts, and I'd set up the piano bench as the altar. There was a time when I was upset that I couldn't set becoming a priest as my career goal. But I set that disappointment aside and practiced my lectoring as I read from a borrowed missalette.
My parents said Grace before meals. My father casually talked about the weekly homilies as he drove home their messages, in case I hadn't been listening. I was embarrassed to sing aloud in my hometown church (something I have only recently overcome, strange to say considering I am a cantor and soloist at my own parish now), but I always felt God's presence.
When I was growing up, I was a rare teen who made a point to ask adults if I could go to church when we were on trips out of town for school events or when I was visiting people without my parents there too. In fact recently one of my school classmates reminded me of that. I was very touched he had remembered that about me. When I went to college I tried the Mass said on campus but it felt weird. So I asked my boyfriend (now husband) if he'd help me travel to the Catholic church in town, and that became my church. My husband told me he wanted to become Catholic before we married. Father Paul told him not to rush that intention and asked him to start classes after our marriage, lest he change his mind. He didn't.
Raising our children in the Catholic faith was never a question and although time will tell as to whether or not they too will fight for their Catholic faith as other distractions and temptations arise to abandon it, I continue to pray for their continuance of their Catholic faith.
I never faced any discrimination for my faith until I became an adult. I don't wish to speak of that today. I only wanted to write of how, over the years, I grew in my Catholic faith.
There. I said it. I'm Catholic. Please forgive me for getting defensive. I need to work on that.