Thursday, January 29, 2009

Keeping my Integrity while Sending a Quiet Message

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.


Ophelia said...

I'm not allowed to take communion. I'm an outcast since I'm divorced. Oh and since I got married somewhere besides a catholic church by someone other than a catholic priest without a dispensation, I was banned from receiving communion then too.

HOWEVER, I can still attend church and contribute financially to the congregation.

I have a HUGE problem with this. I'm good enough to sit in the house of the Lord, but I'm suddenly sooooo different from the virtuous woman I was before I got married?!?! And oh, my money is still good enough!

According to the catholic church, I can't be a god mother unless I get a catholic annullment. Ok dude, I have a HUGE problem with them dictating what I HAVE to do with my life and how I have to suddenly erase my past. AND, would they really deny a little baby a good god mother just because I'm divorced, but still a good catholic?! How effed up is that?!

I've got issues with Catholicism right now... major issues!

Thanks for opening up that can of worms! LOL

Andrea said...

It is for many of the reasons you listed I don't want to convert (DH is Catholic and I am Protestant). Mainly, I always feel ostracized in not being able to take communion in the Catholic church. At my church, you are welcome to take communion if you believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior, no matter your religion. That's how I think it should be. Good for you for taking a stand!

Sky said...

I completely understand and respect your reasons for bowing out of communion and love that your husband is so supportive.

The reality is that I have NEVER met a Catholic (devout or otherwise) who agrees with most of the stances of the Roman Catholic church (or others and their respective faiths) and they may find your act as a sign of rebellion, which is unfortunate.

I really respect that you're doing it because you believe it's the moral and right thing to do and not to be hypocritical - that is so hard to find in folks.

Know that your faith is between you and your god - no one else's opinion matters.

Be well.

Renovation Girl said...

Okay, I didn't know the specifics about taking Communion. I suppose I shouldn't be taking then, either. Oops. Thanks for that information. I don't think there are many people of ANY faith that believe the tenets of their church 100%. It was Robert Browning who said, "Without doubt, there is no faith." I believe that whole-heartedly. Love your honesty!!

areyoukiddingme said...

That's what I like about the Catholic allows for disagreement, without becoming permissive. My family encompasses those who belong to Opus Dei and those who would see women priests. You can't get farther apart than that, yet they are all united in their faith. It's quite an interesting study to reconcile how you actually live your life with how the church says you should.

Also, I don't go to Communion, because I haven't felt deserving in years. I think not being in agreement is a much better explanation.

tonya said...

I think your journey is fascinating. My closest association with Catholicism is a boyfriend from high school whose family was very devout (he had a huge sense of humor about it). That, and several friends who declare themselves "recovering catholics" have me learning a lot more about the religion. Thanks for being so open about it!

Teresa said...

I'll never understand Catholicism. I believe all of their rules push people away. Jesus hated religion for God's sake. He wouldn't deny anyone communion. Why do they think they have the right to pick and fucking choose. Ok sorry I'll stop ranting now.

Chelle said...

I admire your honesty and your firm beliefs. Good for you.

nancy said...

I'm not really going to comment on your religion posts because I'm no longer regligious in any sense of organized religion. BUT, I was raised catholic and had a funny confirmation story.

When I was 16, I had to get confirmed. (which, i may add, is a stupid time to get confirmed as we are still well under our parent's thumbs, so a forced confirmation isn't a real confirmation) I got kicked out. I had to meet with the scary nun, the one who still believed in hitting your knuckles with a ruler, to discuss it. I talked and talked and at the end, she looked at me with a tear in her eye and said "nancy, you have just renewed my faith in young adults." Oh man, I'm ~so~ going to hell.

Celia said...

I could not stand being Catholic anymore. I embraced Lutheranism.

Anonymous said...

I am a Catholic who found your post because I was wondering if and what actual beliefs I'd have to refrain from communion for. I really respect your faith and respect for the Church to treat the Eucharist as it is. I sort of feel like some of my disagreements with the Church may eventually lead me to have the same response. I love Catholicism but there are also a few things that I just can't understand or agree with. Sometimes though I worry that my soul is in jeopardy for having such strong disagreements with a Church that has had thousands of years, scholars to decide what is taught. I hope God's mercy is better than the Church's...