Wednesday, February 24, 2010

a call to... religion?! part one

I am not a religious person.  I was born and raised Roman Catholic, like all good little Italian boys and girls.  I  LOVED Mass and wanted to be a priest. For reals.  I practiced in my bathroom mirror. I would have been good!  But, alas, I was to told women were not allowed to hold such postions of power in the Catholic Church. I could be a nun. And feed the poor or spank naughty children with a ruler in school.  No thanks, it's Glory or nothing for this chick.

Then I suffered a fall from Grace. In the eyes of the Church.  I had a baby out of wedlock, and a priest who tried to discourage me from baptizing her. (Um, hello? The whole point of Baptism is to erase original Sin- and the sins of the mother and father, right?  See, I was doing more than filing my nails in the back of CCD class.)  Then, the same priest tried to discourage her father and me from getting married in the Church because we didn't "practice" our Religion. There were a lot of things I wasn't practing then - birth control being one of them (hey, isn't that in line with Catholic teachings?),  as I was 28 weeks pregnant when he finally, begrudgingly, married us. I do not hold his displeasure in that task against him, as we were seperated just over one year later.  It's the fact that I was not welcomed back into the fold, because I was now a >gasp< divorcee.   That really gets my goat. At 23, with two little girls to raise, hello, I could have used God's help.  And yet,  if I had had some odd hundred dollars and the cooperation of my ex-husband, the same Church would have said the whole marriage thing never happened, despite the fact I would still be left with two girls who again, for all intents and purposes, would go back to being born to an unwed mother.

Confused? I was. Bitter? I might still be.

And yet, I let my oldest daughter pursue and receive her First Communion (with the help of her grandmother) and watched her interest wain as soon as she did.  I spent the rest of my twenties and early thirties on the very liberal side of the fence and defended my family's lack of practicing any organized religion by sighting the political and bloody  history of organized religion and the Church's views and hypocrisy on so many rights I believe(ed) in.  When Shaye and Mackenna were born and when my husband wanted to baptize them, I protested, stating that I didn't want our daughters' views and morals shaped by anyone but us and if they wanted to, they could "find" religion when they were adults.

The only time I have stepped in a church since, was for my father's funeral Mass - just over five years ago.  And despite all of my years of indignity and distaste, I found the (still!) familiar service soothing. The sights and sounds of my old Church... comforting.

And then life went on.


TOTEally Posh! said...

Thank you for making yourself so transparent in this post! I know many will appreciate it and on some level can relate. I think it's important to remember that "church" is made up of imperfect humans. We are ALL sinners. I pray that you find a "church" where you find encouragement, love, support, and where you feel safe.

BLOGitse said...

Thank you for sharing your story!
I was raised as Evangelical Lutheran but I've resinged years ago.
If I had to choose a religion it would be Buddhism than anything else...


Lori said...

It takes a while to get the "outsider" garbage out of our heads. Once you do you can feel good about where you are. I am a cradle Catholic and have had some of the same feelings. But the best feeling is walking into any Catholic church and sensing the unity and comfort of the mass. It does stick with you. Now evangelical speakers.... that's another story. Peace

Hair Bows & Guitar Picks said...

This kind of sounds like my life...I might still be bitter too!

Shell said...

What an interesting story!

I have to admit that it still makes me a little pissed that my father couldn't get married to his second wife without getting an annullment of his marriage to my mom. I told him that if he had never been married to her, then I was either a bastard or never born, so I shouldn't have to come to his wedding.

My parents had been divorced for quite a while at that point and it was for the best- I never wished them back together. But, the whole annulment thing really got to me.

I have so much more to say, but I've already written a book here, so I'll save it for the next part! LOL

The Starr Family said...

Gina... you are transparent indeed and your honesty is exactly what our God craves from us. The acknowledgment of sin and truth is empowering... we can grow astonishingly from this.

The Lord did, still does, and will always LOVE you despite what church building you enter or exit.

Matthew 18:20: "Where two or three have come together in my name, I am there among them."

No matter where you & your family are, He is always with you!

I think so much of you and your writing!

Anonymous said...

I think your problem isn't with religion, it's with some of the people who practice it.

Keep in mind that humans aren't perfect. When you read the Bible, you'll realize that Jesus was all about forgiveness and moving forward. Unfortunately, this isn't always reflected in every church.

A few months ago (I can't remember where), I heard that you should never judge a religion by its practitioners. You should judge it based on the teachings of its founder, or central character. (Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, etc).

Judging by your post, it seems like you love the Bible, you just hate your church. Please try to explore other options. Don't lose your faith based on other people's mistakes.

When you find the perfect church, you'll be so glad you tried.

Veronica Boulden said...

Thanks for sharing this. I can HEAR your voice in what you write. Love that. I agree with what the lady said before me, "When you find the perfect church, you'll be so glad you tried." Try something new. I had to "try" a few before I found one that "fit."

carma said...

my husband picked my son up from his "mandatory" CCD class over the weekend and the director was screaming at the kids like a banshee. It doesn't get much more religious than that ;-)

Tammy said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I appreciate your honesty.

I grew up going to a Lutheran church on and off. I went through my confirmation classes and then when they were over, I was done with going to church too. I didn't step foot into a church again for about 6 or 7 years. It was hard to forget my past experience with "church" and give it another try. But I am glad I did. I hope you find this true for you too. I am looking forward to reading the rest of your story.

MMW said...

What an honest and yearning post. Bless you in your soul-searching & church-searching Gina.

Melanie said...

Thank you for sharing. Since this is the second story like this that I have heard this week, I feel compelled to share my feelings. My own walk with our faith has been checkered and I had my very feminist years so I totally relate. I hurt for you and I am so sad that this happened. I would encourage you to remember that priests are imperfect just as we all are and the Church in all its goodness will make mistakes from time to time. Please don't let that rob you of the beauty that awaits you in the Church that Peter, our first Pope, built at the direction of our Savior. Peace be with you.

Josey's mom said...

the journey-lovely and grace filled

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