Thursday, October 13, 2011

Back to the Catholic Guilt.

He said he wants his First Holy Communion!  What? I am struggling with our decision to.... I don’t even know!  I am not even sure what the decision was.  We are not going to church anymore, and I did not sign up my son for CCD this year.  If you need more of a backstory, go to my very first post on this blog. (  I still consider myself Catholic, only because that was how I was brought up and it still remains within me somewhere.  But I felt like a hypocrite going to church and not really believing in the Church anymore.  I want to instill a strong faith in our sons, but really have a tough time with some of the teachings of my childhood church.  And not just the remote controversial teachings, but the fundamental teachings of Transubstantiation, Reconciliation, and the church hierarchy. Not to mention the Church’s views on married priests, female priests, and homosexuality. Not to further mention it’s horrible handling of abusive priests and political moves it is making against legislation that will help victims of childhood sexual abuse.  
Please understand, I don’t in any way think that those that attend Catholic church and are devout to it’s teachings are bad, misguided or even wrong.  I commend them for finding that which has eluded me.  I am happy that they feel at peace and in harmony within the Church.  I wish that for everyone.  Personally, I don’t want to be a hypocrite and go to church out of some fear that if I don’t, I will go to hell.  That if I don’t attend church and be an active member of the church community I am bad person.  Honestly, I just want to live my life and be good to others and raise my boys to be loving and caring adults.  
So back to my dilemma, my son wanting his First Holy Communion.  I asked him why and he said so that he can get the bread when we go to church.  I told him that we really don’t go to church and he said “but for when we do, I want to be able to go up and get the bread!”  Then I started thinking, why can’t he just go up and get the bread.  No one will stop him.   Instantly I thought, ‘But that is against the rules of our Church. It is sacrilegious, and I don’t want to be disrespectful to those that keep the Church’s teachings.’  Then think through the fact that my husband and I both got our First Holy Communions and it was a wonderful right of passage; a beautiful ceremony that brought us more fully into the fold of the Church.  But do I want my children in the fold of this Church?  It does not seem like the same Church I grew up with.   
My first and foremost thought is the health and happiness of my children, physically, mentally and spiritually.  How am I to know what their spiritual needs are?  I am not completely sure what mine are. There are certain things that I feel in my gut and know to be right.  I believe Jesus wants us to show love, tolerance and inclusion.  I think He was trying to tell us that we must find God within ourselves and those around us. By loving others we will find peace and happiness.  It seems that at the base some Catholic organizations, this is true.  I look at the wonderful work that Catholic Charities does for the poor, (without trying to convert.)  I look to Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity and the Human Rights work the Franciscans do.  But when I see that Monsignor Lynn, who was arrested for protecting sexually abusive priests then suspended from ministry was APPLAUDED at an invitation-only dinner for Archbishop Chaput, who pointed out how difficult the ordeal has been on Msgr. Lynn.  My blood boils.  ( Msgr Lynn was arrested for shuffling pedophile priests and teachers around (Not alleged pedophiles but convicted abusers) and for covering it up. He was applauded!  Why is he not hanging his head in shame, even if he did not do what he was arrested for doing?  Wouldn’t you feel awful that your direct reports were abusing children on the job and you did not know about it? Wouldn’t you be doing all you can to help the victims and their families?  Not sitting at some exclusive dinner accepting applause!  
I have had this conversation with friends who feel the same way and are sending their children to Catholic school or to CCD, because they still believe in the sacraments.  I completely respect that.  I just don’t know what to do about my son now wanting his First Holy Communion.  My husband and I have not had a chance to revisit this subject since my son just asked this yesterday.  I am confused and conflicted. I had a long conversation with my son about Jesus and God and how we can commune with them anytime, not just at church.  I talked to him about how much he is loved not only by us but by God.  I explained how special and unique he is and to honor that by being a kind and loving person.  He had some insightful things to say like how all our ancestors were the stars in the sky and they were angels looking down on us.  He also told me that when you go to Heaven you can be whatever age you want at anytime explaining that Poppy-Pop (his great-grandfather who passed away last year at the age of 92,) can be 16 or 8 or 49 depending on his mood.  He also asked, why we don’t go to church anymore.  I was honest with him and told him that I did not have a really great reason.  I told him that it was stressful to go to church and we did not seem to like it too much anymore.  But just because we did not go, did not mean that church was not good.  It just meant that it is not what we are doing it right now.  It is all so confusing and frustrating.  I guess the question still remains - will I let him get his First Holy Communion and how do I get him into CCD now that the year has already started? More importantly do I want to?