Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Confession and Other Sacraments

Before you read this post I want you to understand that I do not mean to offend those who are people of faith and who practice their religion. These are my inner struggles and mine alone. This reflects upon me...not you.

I have one IRL friend who reads this blog and she has shared her faith with me on more than one occasion. I have nothing but respect for you and I admire your faithfulness. I admire it becasue I know you have struggled and questioned and continue to THINK and process and find relevance in your daily life. You live your words. You make efforts to examine your faith and the teachings and the manner in which you make your way in the world. I respect that about you.

I also greatly admire the writings of Mrs. Spit. She's a thinking woman of faith. I find such wisdom there.


Did I tell you I getting confirmed? Well, I am attending the classes to qualify to get confirmed. We'll see how I do.

Like many Catholics my age I never went through confirmation becasue they kept changing the age. Every year they kept saying "next year". So finally my mother said "enough" and pulled us out(my little sister and I ) in protest. Truth be told I think she was tired of driving us but that is between her and God.

So since a little extra free time was more important to my mother than my spiritual well being and the maturation of my religious faith I'm now obligated to 20 hours of Adult faith classes. That's every Wednesday night from here until eternity, I mean, the new year.

So here is the problem. All I do is cringe and roll my eyes (internally roll them.....I'm not outwardly rude or disruptive...give me some credit). I don't know what it is but I just can't buy it.. any of it. At least not the way it's being talked about.

After the first class I came home and complained about how simplistic and even child-like the belief systems were of the people in the class. Did I accidentally walk into a 1st confirmation class with some freakishly physically mature 2nd graders? It just seemed so ....unsophisticated and unthinking without any reflection.

Mr. Peeveme's response was, "I don't know why you are doing this?" and then walked away. He's all supportive and talkative like that.

Neither of us would be considered very faithful. We did get married in the church and had Piccolina Baptized but that's becasue that's just what our families do (He's Italian, I'm a Mission Indian). Not becasue of some deep seeded need for involvement in a community of faith. Plus the more sacraments you fulfill the more cake you get to eat. Specifically, sheet cake. Sheet cake rocks. The more you buy the cheaper it gets. I love sending people home with home giant slabs of sheet cake crammed on a paper plate with smooshed frosting under a double layer of plastic wrap. Now THAT's the way to celebrate a sacrament.

So why am I doing this? And why now? Why not in the past 20 years? Why not 20 years from now? I tell myself and others it's becasue it's a loose end. Just want to wrap it up. But it can't be a coincidence that I feel the need to do this now. I am doing IVF after IVF and now Donor eggs. The Catholic Church is pretty clear (and mean, if you ask me) about their stance on reproductive technology and even clearer (and meaner) about 3rd party reproduction. (I'd like to add mis-informed to that as well).

I confess, I'm not a person of strong faith. Clearly I'm not when all I do in cringe and inner eye roll the whole time in confirmation class? Nope, no faith here.

During the second meeting the Deacon gave us little notebooks so we could write things down. And I prepared for what I just knew would be 2 hours of cringing and inner eye rolls.

The session goes like this: The Deacon asks us a question...we share our thoughts with our "neighbors" and then share out to the larger group. And it's hard to listen to the answers of people without physical cringing at the simplicity. I think I have read more thoughtful and reflective ideas about faith in a coloring book about Jesus. And I certainly can't share HALF of what I'm thinking.

For example:

Question: Think of a time when you realized you were a Christian. Did that realization make you feel different? In what way did it make you feel different?

My head: Um...still not sure I am a Christian so I'm not sure how to approach that question. But why would I feel different? Different from other people? Because being Christian is not different it's the dominant religion where I grew up. I'm sorry, you're loosing me.

Question: Discuss some of the ways your faith is different from when you were younger.

Answers of other people (summary):
When I was younger I did it becasue I had to and because my parents made me. Now that I am an adult my faith is stronger. Pretty much every said that they all have such strong faith now and are ready to commit to the "responsibilities of their faith". (whatever that means...I have no idea what that means but they say it all the time.)

My answer: (I went last)As a youth my faith was inconsequential. There was nothing at stake. No reason to question it. With such little life experience I had no reason to question the teachings of the Church. Unlike most people here I am not here becasue of a deepening of my faith, I am here becasue of a crisis of faith. I'm looking for resolution between my personal beliefs and the Church. I'm here to gain a more sophisticated relationship with the Church and my faith. I disagree profoundly with some of the stances of the Church. If I am truly loved by Jesus and the Church that has to be ok.

This was met with big-blinking eyes and silence. I think one mouth was agape. I was worried the Deacon would kick me out right there....but he seemed impressed with both my honesty and my level of thoughtfulness and reflection.

And then I started blogging in my little journal because I felt I was onto something here.

Notes from my notebook:

Wow, everyone else is here to learn more about their own faith. I came to learn more about the Church. I don't expect to be more faithful after this....or do I?

Why am I here? Do I know? What am I looking for? I gotta be here for more than the sheet cake.

Maybe I think that there has to be more. There has to be more depth and intellectualism to this religion.

Does this sustain me? Can this religion sustain me? Certainly not in my current understanding of it, no. I find little here for me. There has to be more.

So many people find solace in this faith. Why not me? This can't be so hollow and simplistic and sustain so many people. There has to be some substance here. Why don't I feel it?

Will my inner eye-roll ever go away?

End notes

I was approaching these session as just hoops I had to hop through to get confirmed. But I actually got something out of the last class. I know why I am there. I have no idea if I will find what I am looking for but at least I know what it is I want. That's something. In fact, that might be everything.


And BTW, I'm not sure I'm completely down with the concept of the Holy Trinity. I know! The central tenet of my faith and I'm not completely on board. Quick, someone call a Council of Nicea.

I'm really hoping the Deacon does not collect these journals. That would be mighty embarrassing.


soapchick said...

I too am Catholic and don't agree with everything - since I'm going to be doing DE soon as well. I find that many people don't need or want a more intellectual understanding of faith and the church, they are satisfied with the simplistic view. However I took a Theology class a few years ago at a local Seminary and I was enthralled. It was like a history class on drugs - super interesting, very intellectual and it helped me understand the church so much more. I highly recommend that to you....just make sure you get a good professor, one that is recommended by others. It makes all the difference.

PJ said...

Honestly, I don't know what I'd do if I were in that position. The stance on assisted reproduction seems entirely unflexible to me, but then I am not Catholic. Maybe I just wouldn't understand.

bleu said...

I went through many years studying different religions during my own quest of faith and belief. I studied for conversion to Judaism for a time, and really loved that questioning the beliefs and practices was considered good and healthy and believed to strengthen your faith.

I studied many faiths and I even studied Catholicism for a time, going to mass every day and praying the rosary multiple times a day. I also did not agree with much if not almost all of the churche's stances so why was I there. Now mind you, I was not raised religious at all and mostly only went to Sunday Schools with friends for fun. But when I looked at what drew me to the Catholic church I realized, for me, it was the ritual and ceremony, the traditions.

I also found that the rosary led me to meditation and ultimately Buddhism which is how I identify and have for a long time.

So I admire your search and hope you find what you are searching for, or at least that you truly enjoy the journey because after all the path is the goal.

Frenchie said...

Oh, Peevme (nodding head enthusiastically). I hear ya. I'm impressed by your ability to sit through these classes. I too am a Catholic who was never confirmed. (Mom pulled me out). Crisis of faith--yeah, I get it. I'm dancing on the fence all the time. I want a deeper understanding of the religion, then I just think it's all hooey, but yet, I'm needing something....but what? *sigh*

DCat said...

I can see where you are coming from. The Catholic religion can be tough b/c so much of it is built on having faith. I think when you start to look at it with your logical eye it all gets a little silly. For me, when I start to question I turn my thoughts to what I do know, to my faith in the Lord and if I don't then I don't have an explanation for why certain things happened to me in my life. I also don't have a place or a person to pray to.
I think the mere fact that you are questioning and thinking is God's way of getting you the answers that you need. Just my own opinion.

Marie said...

Wow, I am feeling the exact same thing in my (lack of) faith. I just can't wrap my head around things I was taught.

I feel that I have no connection to faith or God and it is so super scary.

I am searching but where? Where do you search?

Teresa said...

Ah the Catholic "faith", don't you just love how they judge every single move you make? Thanks for commenting, I have to say I LOVE reading your blog. I love, love, love your sarcasism. It cracks me up! You rock my socks right off hehe

renovationgirl said...

Hmmm...very interesting. I'm Catholic by choise. I was raised Catholic, but dabbled in Protestant faiths in college. I just kept coming back to Catholicism. Yes it has its crazy ideas, a patriarchial structure, and sometimes a lack of flexibility, but it is where I have always felt peace and comfort. I love the tradition and the pageantry, too. I have had to sit through those classes since I teach at a Catholic school, and it was not easy as an infertile. And I fought with them on it (that and women being priests). I gained an understanding on their stances on ART, but it didn't change my choices later on. And yes, I think that if I get to the pearly gates, there may be a few questions about all that...but I don't think I will be punished for it.

And you're comments about the sheet cake? HYSTERICAL!!!! I can sooo relate!

jodie38 said...

My family never emphasized religion when I was growing up
(Presbyterian). They didn't go at all for years and years, couldn't really make me or my siblings go... religion and children are very closely tied. Everyone I know who didn't go to church, when they had kids, one of the first things was to find a church.
My honeybunney is Catholic, but is non-practicing. He has some issues with his religion, doesn't really discuss it, but is not interested at all in going back. Me converting never even came up, hence we got married in the Presbyterian church. We've occasionally gone to Catholic churches because they make him feel homey (all that ritual), but haven't found any religion that really fits, one we're both comfortable with. The best compromise we've found so far is Episcopal - enough Catholic routines to keep him happy and enough laid-back open-mindedness to keep me happy. He calls the Episcopal church "Catholic lite" - all of the ceremony, half the guilt!

No offense to anyone intended, of course......

Joonie said...

What an interesting post! Infertility really tests your faith (or lack of it in my case). I was very religious as a little girl, but by the time I turned 14 I had lost faith in most things. My struggles with IF made me question things again, I thought things would be easier if I had faith. But faith, my dear, is not something you can fake or acquire by force. So I still stand before you faithless and searching.

Good luck on your journey!