Religion of the organized variety has been a sore subject for me for the past few years. I guess to explain why this is so I have to go into my background. I grew up Catholic, and pretty staunchly so. My parents didn’t try to scare me fire and brimstone style, but we rarely, if ever, missed mass. Of course, we went with wet hair and never got a seat because that’s just how my family has always rolled. We’ll surely be late to our own funerals. But we were there. While I groaned and complained about this each week, I also found a sort of comfort in the rituals. Catholicism loves its rituals. My grandparents prayed all day long, and on their hands and knees … with rosaries. We’re talking the whole shebang, people.
I got plenty of mass in when I was little, as I also went to Catholic school for six years. I was a neurotic child. So, so neurotic. I hated getting anything but 100% on tests, and would get stomachaches all the time. My mom used to have to force me to go out and play during final exams. The grades weren’t the only area in which I was neurotic, though. I was God-fearing, and I hate that about me in hindsight. I hate that the messages of fire and brimstone invaded me to the core. One of my schoolmates once showed me “nudie” pictures when I was little, and it made me feel funny “down there.” GASP! I’ve never felt so guilty in my life. I don’t even know if I had the balls to report this during one of my many, many confession sessions. The shame—oh, how it burned.
The somewhat ironic part is the only place I knew to turn for my many neuroses was prayer. My mom would find me novenas to say for people who are constantly nervous, and I would recite them day and night, hoping to get a break from the constant fear that lived in my belly and the recesses of my mind. I once had a former nun as a teacher, and the word around town was that she was kicked out of the convent for being too mean. Can you even imagine? She berated me in front of my classmates one day, and I’ve never been able to publicly speak without vomiting ever since. I endured a year of bullying shortly thereafter, which is when my parents decided to pull the plug on Catholic school, and send me to school with all the heathens (LOL). I got my first “C” ever and lived to tell about it, and my parents even applauded. I was happy and more carefree than I’d ever been. We still went to church, but it was no longer about eternal damnation and mortal sins. I simply went to pray for my continued happiness, and for those around me.
If you can believe it, I continued going to mass through college, and not just on parents’ weekend. I’d be hungover as hell, reeking of last night’s ten-cent draws with bar stamps (yes, plural) on my hands. But I’d be there. My friends would tease me and I knew it was strange. I knew I was a bit of an anomaly, but I’d also begun to do some fairly legitimate sinning, so I felt that I had to. Part of me also still felt good once I got there, though. It’s always been comforting to me.
Fast forward many years later and, all of a sudden, I’m the fallen away Catholic that so many people talk about. Some might call us “recovering Catholics”. I don’t know when I stopped exactly or if I can even give you an absolute answer as to why. I know that some of it had to do with my parents, as they began questioning the church in light of its many and horrendous pedophile scandals and ensuing cover-ups. And of course there’s the hypocrisy that gay people are somehow wrong or evil even though God made us all, right? And if you try to tell me that people aren’t born gay, I’ll debate you ‘til my dying breath, and will probably throat throttle you for good measure.
If I’m being honest, though, there are other reasons, too. My (soon to be ex) husband never goes, and I hated being the one to drag the crying kids every week. Also, Sundays. I like to be easy like a Sunday morning, so sue me. I know, I know, when it all boils down to it, it’s only hour per week, so why am I not going? Another reason that I probably haven’t completely owned up to yet is I know that I’ve done things in my life that are completely against Catholicism, and one of them is my impending divorce. I do believe if I’m not mistaken that I’m not even supposed to get communion if I go to mass once this all goes down. Talk about wearing the Scarlet letter “A” to church. It’s like, “Oh, you don’t want me? Then I don’t want you either. So there.” This is particularly sad considering our latest pope is pretty damn cool. I’d like to high-five him.
Here’s where I’ve been struggling. My kids think Jesus is a super hero, and have ranked him just above Thor. I’m not even kidding. To even hear them talk about God is a joke, as they truly have no idea. I’ve failed them in so many ways, and mostly in ways I never thought I would. I haven’t gotten them ready for their First Communions yet, and part of is I wonder if they will even let me. But recently, my oldest has been asking a lot of questions about souls. Where do they go? What are they? Then there are questions about heaven. It’s an interesting time, considering the world around us seems to be falling apart right before our eyes.
I have begun to do nightly prayers as a means to get us going towards the light once again. Perhaps our souls can be saved, and this is the first step. If nothing else, I love hearing them pray for each and every one of our family members, as it’s so darn cute.
Here’s where it gets good (you still with me?). Yesterday, my youngest son leaned down to kiss our dog, who has recently gone almost 100% blind. His eyes are covered with a film. I heard him mumbling something as he left for school, so I followed him out. That’s when I heard him say with his hands in prayer, “Please, God. Please let Fred get his sight back.” Gulp.
Are you there, God? It’s me, Marnie. Please tell me I haven’t screwed this whole thing up.