I’m veering off course today, and not writing to the I Must Confess theme. Because over the last week, I’ve become a bit fascinated. And it is kind of fitting to write about confessions and my obsession – the papacy and catholic church. The traditions, the world-wide reach, the hype, the whole thing just intrigues me.
Growing up, we never went to church. By the time I was 18 I could count on one hand the number of times I’d even set foot in a church (3). In my late teens and early 20s I visited a couple of different churches, mostly non-denominational. One year I attended a Catholic Christmas mass with a friend and her family and I was less than impressed. It felt cold, impersonal, I got absolutely nothing out of it. At least at the non-denomination services I felt like I could relate to a lot of it, and felt like there was a lesson to be learned, or a message to be received. But I could not wrap my head around the Catholic thing. It turned me even further off when they announced only people “in good standing with the Catholic church” were welcome to come forward to receive communion.
When I met my husband, I found out he had gone to Catholic primary school and his whole family had been involved in the Catholic church. He, however, was not exactly what you’d call a practicing Catholic. And I might have made it clear to him that under no circumstances would I be converting to Catholicism or getting married in a Catholic church. Nor would I be raising my children to be Catholic. Of those things, I was quite adamant.
But as I grew older, and attended a few more masses, watched my brother-in-law enter into a life of committing to the Catholic Church (he is studying to become a Catholic priest), I grew to understand and appreciate the church a little better. When our son was born, we decided to have a naming day – a way to acknowledge this new member of our family and community, without it being a baptism into a faith I wasn’t really sure about. But by the time he was 2, we had decided to baptize him Catholic, like his dad. I was ok with this, because I grew up with no religion and often wish I “belonged” to one faith or another, whether or not I chose to follow that faith.
I think religion is important. Not in a sense that it is important to be religious, but it is important to understand why historical events happened, what people are guided by, what makes people have such a strong faith in something no one could ever physically “prove” (outside of a few books or paintings). I may not be Catholic, but watching the crowds in St. Peter’s square as Pope Francis was introduced gave me goosebumps and got me a bit teary. It also made me question why this person carried such an influence. Why did the office of pope garner world wide attention? What other religions received this kind of attention? None that I knew of.
Of course with all this media attention comes all the critics and cynics. Obviously I don’t agree with everything the Catholic church preaches. I am pro choice and fully support gay marriage. I believe Jesus existed as a man, but as the son of God who was resurrected? Not sure I can buy into that part of the story.
But I don’t think all priests are pedophiles. I don’t think all Catholics are assholes because of their beliefs. And I think that to judge them based on their religion is as bad as them judging people based on their sexuality. I think everyone is entitled to live their lives regardless of race, religion or sexual preference. So today, I must confess, that while I don’t consider myself Catholic, I do have an appreciation for the religion and their 1.2 billion followers.
What do you think of religion?
Linking up with Kirsty at My Home Truths for I Must Confess