16 November 2008


I went to Church earlier this year. Now before you go gettin' all excited about my return to Christianity, this was a familial obligation. My niece had her First Communion, which the Catholic Church is starting to call First Eucharist. The title change annoys me, but then, there isn't much about the Church that DOESN'T bug me.

I won't go into the details of the family dynamics of the event, except to say that some of that side of the fam is Catholic and some isn't, so there's the usual back-and-forth Catholic vs. Protestant bullshit. Tangentially, I always wonder about the crappola that goes on between the different sects of Christianity. If they're all following the path of righteousness, where do they get off bashing one another's forms of Christianity? But I digress.

My niece is 7. First Communion (I flat out refuse to call it First Eucharist, its too cumbersome and strange-sounding to my ears.) at that age is about the pretty dress, the presents, and the little veil that you get to wear. The significance of accepting the body and blood of Christ, as Catholics believe the communion bread and wine are transformed during the blessing from bread and wine to body and blood, is largely lost on your average 7 year-old. Trust me. Been there, done that, have the pictures to prove it.

I haven't been to Church since my nephew's first communion, two years ago. At that Mass, I enjoyed myself hugely, but not for reasons of faith. Firstly, because DH was not raised Catholic as I was, and the subtle cues that indicate to the congregation when to stand, when to kneel, and when to sit are lost on anyone who doesn't have that doggerel pounded into their heads from birth. So he's half a beat behind, and each time the congregation moves, he rolls his eyes at me, as if to say, "What? Again? Why can't you people just SIT STILL?" So that makes it hard not to giggle through the Mass. A benefit of being with someone for nearly half of your life is the ability to telepathically communicate with them. 

Secondly, at my nephew's first communion, the priest had all of the children come up to the altar and sit down on the dais. He joined them, in his vestments, sitting down on the floor with them, and giving the homily to them. He ignored the rest of us, just having a conversation with the kids. I know it made them feel special and involved in the Mass, unlike every other Mass they'd ever been to in their lives.

The priest made an effort at this Mass as well to bring it to the kid's level. Might have even been the same priest, I'm not sure.

The communion song was about growing; a part of the refrain was

Seed scattered and sown
Wheat gathered and grown

I was thinking about English, and a few of the other words in English that sound like seeded; seated, ceded. As these words swirled around in my head, I was remembering so much of the dogma of my childhood. The Nicene Creed, a recitation of Catholic beliefs. At the end, it talks about Jesus seated at the right hand of of the Father. I can't tell you how many homilies I heard over the years about growing and gardening, seeds, seated....and how I've refused to cede my viewpoint that the Catholic Church wants women to be barefoot and pregnant, or nuns.  According to Pope John Paul II, the only two acceptable vocations for women:  wife AND mother (The two are NOT mutually exclusive; to be one is to be the other.) OR a nun.

Ladies, isn't that wonderful?  You can choose to become a member of a religious order, or you can get married and start popping out kids.  Y'all have fun with that....I'm not allowing them to plant those "seeds" in my head.


Anonymous said...

Just playing the devil's advocate (*cough cough*) here for a sec... but, being wife and mother isn't a terrible fate.

I know, there's the whole it's-fine-if-you-make-the-choice-yourself angle. But really, try dealing with *making* that choice, and then having other people suggest that it's less than desirable. Not you, specifically - more like the culture, the *feminist* culture. That's often what makes it hardest to be a woman- living up to the expectations of one's own gender.

Lucy Arin said...

I buy into the "it's fine if it is your decision" because it is. Fine, that is.

What I have the problem with is that the Church thinks that they can (and should) be the ones to tell us what we should be doing; you (women) have this role, full stop, nothing else. I don't think being a wife & mother is a bad thing, not at all. I think the male patriarchy telling me that I am only allowed to be a wife and mother, nothing else, is complete bullshit. By not having kids, I am "destroying my essential femininity" according to Pope John Paul II. The current pope, Ratzinger-what's-his-papal-name, Pious?, is even more militant about the proper "place" of women. To the statement that a woman belongs at home, because she's got a vag and for no other reason, I say: a big F you to the Catholic Church.