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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Easter: A Fallen Catholic’s Point of View

My Mom and Dad ran away to get married back in the 1940s. They had to because he was Italian and Catholic and she was a Methodist along with too many nationalities to list—she’s sort of the Heinz 57 flavor.

Needless to say, my Mom agreed to allow my Dad to raise us four girls Catholic and we marched to Catechism school on Saturday mornings (missing cartoons) and church at Sacred Heart on Sundays—although my Mom didn’t attend mass.

Mom did try to help us study our lessons though. My eldest sister was trying to say the Act of Contrition while my Mom patiently listened:

“Oh my God I am ‘partly” sorry for having offended thee,” she started.

“I’m not Catholic honey, but I don’t think that’s how it goes,” Mom spouted. “I don’t think God wants you to be “partly sorry” but “heartily sorry” for offending thee!”

My Mom endured the Communion dresses and parties and the Confirmation slaps from the bishop and even more family get-togethers.

When we were very small yet old enough to confess our sins, we’d ask her what we should confess.

“I didn’t sin Mummy!” I’d say. “What should I confess to?”

“Well you were mean to your sister yesterday,” she said.

“Is that a sin?” I asked.

“Probably knowing those Catholics!” She muffed.

Every once in a while Daddy would give her a stern look like Don’t be using blasphemous terms to talk about my religion—especially in front of the girls!

Catechism was sort of dumb. As I got older I realized the nun that taught the Saturday morning class had the same lesson each and every week. She’d start with Christ’s birth and draw a timeline on the blackboard. She never, ever made it to the end because she didn’t have enough time before each class ended. So next week, we’d start all over again. Why couldn’t she just continue on the next Saturday? Hmm?

I am what folks would call a fallen Catholic now. I do believe in God and Jesus and I pray to them in my own way—usually every Sunday morning when I attend St. Mattress on the Springs! I believe what my Mom believes that God and Jesus hear prayers wherever they are—not just in Roman Catholic Churches.

When my father died in 1982, all of my sisters suddenly announced they weren’t Catholic anymore. Jeez! Really?

So, it was up to me to call good old Sacred Heart Church and ask the priest what my Catholic uncles told me to: “What’s the offering Father.” Or, how much of my Mom’s money do you want to say a Funeral Mass?

At the Mass, the priest who I shall never forget starting his homily. With my Mom hurting badly after losing her lifetime partner, friend and lover sat in the front row, the priest shouted:

“No one will enter Heaven unless they are of the Roman Catholic faith!”

I wanted to punch the dude after that but I was pretty sure if I did, I’d be ex-communicated.

You see if you’re raised Catholic lessons and ceremonial-type things are pounded into your head. The nuns seemed 10 feet tall and you never ever said Hi or Hey to the priests at the church—they were much taller—or at least they appeared to be to this small kid.

It’s sort of being assimilated according to my son-in-law. He often informs me when he discusses how superior Apple products are: “Soon you will be assimilated too!” He frowns on my PC-related gadgets and thinks I need an iPhone and iPad ASAP! I asked him if I could have his iPad2 since he was going to get an iPad three but he looked at me funny. I guess that meant “no.”

These days, my kids are grown so I don’t go to mass, not even on Christmas or Easter. I try not to eat meat on Good Friday but I never give up anything for lent. I never go to confession either.

If I happen to go to a Catholic funeral mass or a Catholic wedding mass, I do go to Communion because I have memorized the Act of Contrition and think if I say it in my head, God does indeed forgive me so I don’t feel bad about eating the wafer or the “Body of Christ.”

Still, if someone asks me if I am a religious person or what faith I follow, I do say “I’m Catholic.” When in fact, I don’t do anything Catholic at all!

There’s no real point to all of this. Since it’s Palm Sunday, I was just thinking about how badly I’ve fallen off my religious-upbringing-wagon but oh well!

At least I’m not Newt Gingrich. He was a bible reborn type, switched to the Methodist faith and today he claims he’s Catholic. Hmm? How’s that working out for you dude?

Me?  I’m too afraid of the Pope to change!

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