As you well know I have been studying the Catholic Church. I went to Confirmation Classes, got Confirmed and I have been doing some reading of my own. The book I am using has been really helpful in understanding some of the basic tenants of the religion and providing context. I'm not reading the Bible. I find reading scripture without a sense of the historical and theological context a bit like jumping into the deep end of the pool when I don't know how to dog paddle. Without schima it would have no meaning for me.
I enjoy learning about how and why the four Gospels differ. I enjoy learning when the different translations of the bible were created. I enjoy learning about the different heretical movements. I'm glad I know the difference between the Catholic and Protestant Bibles.
There are some very basic things I did not know about my faith. Like not going to church every Sunday (Saturday night is also acceptable since the late 1980's) is a sin.
Last might I was reading about the Sacrament of The Holy Eucharist (Communion). Each time I got to Church I take Communion. I know, it's been ages since I went to confession but everyone else seems to do it and I'm pretty sure they were not at confessional the day before. I just did it because Catholics take Communion. Not much thought or consideration went into it.
I have learned that one must only take Communion if one is completely "in communion" with the Church meaning, if you disagree with any tenant of the faith you are not to take communion. The authors of the book used the example that if you are not anti-abortion then you should not be taking Communion. I'm glad they used an example that depicted me.
It got me to thinking. There are many stances the Church has that I do not agree with. In many instances I am proud of the positions taken by my Church: Charity, Poverty, anti-war, anti-death penalty. But there are many others that I do not and will not agree with: Reproductive rights, stem-cell research, their position on assisted reproductive technology, the re institution of those 4 Bishops who are Holocaust deniers, gay marriage.
I have decided that I will no longer take Communion. This is not a spiteful or resentful decision. It's simple. It's honest. It's out of respect but also out of integrity. I think it's an elegant solution. My reasons for not participating in the Sacrament of Holy Communion are as follows:
1) To do so would signal that I approve all the stances of the Church. I do not.
2) To do so would disrespect the Church and their rules. I believe the term is sacrilege.
3) To prove to myself and others that I can be part of the Church yet remain independent and true to my sense of ethics.
4) . Perhaps my small act will have a larger effect. I will be open as to why I do not take Communion and hope others will follow or at least examine their own beliefs and unthinking behaviors.
5) I want my children to understand that you can have disagreements, be it with the Church, a loved one, their government, and still continue the relationship.
Mr. Peeveme got all excited about this and was talking like I could start some international movement. I'm not sure I am up for that nor would I even know how but how powerful would it be if say, on some randomly chosen Sunday, every Catholic who did not approve of (pick an issue) simply did not take Communion?
I have said before that I am not a very faithful person. My choosing to be closer to my church is as much an intellectual journey as one of faith. In fact, I have a much more emotional connection to my Native religion. But I am on some sort of journey here. In learning about the Church I am learning about myself. I am making a purposeful, respectful, and principled statement by no longer participating in the Sacrament of Communion.
For me, it's all part of trying to live mindfully and meaningfully.