My family is Catholic, with all that entails: pregnancies before marriage, a liquor closet, sober birthdays and a giant group of automatic workers should you need your house roofed or corn husked. I feel awkward going to Mass without my family. There’s no one passing the babies down the row, no one accidentally hitting the loud music playing baby toy, no one to swat my ass if it hits the pew when kneeling, no mock-stern uncle (that everyone knows is a kitten) to glare and remind me that Mass starts at 0930 when I show up just in time for the Gospel.
We trade stories of elementary school when Sister Rachel sat on the class hamster or when Sister Ottona pointed with her middle finger and did she really know what that meant? and hey, remember that nun that left in the middle of the year because my class drove her insane? (Literally. Woman went into an institution.)
The point is, being thus coccooned, I had to go to college to learn that being Catholic is entirely uncool. I’d had a brush the previous year with some new relatives, but I’d thought it was just them. But at the first,”Oh. . . you’re Catholic,” I knew it was universal (pun!). We’re heathens, for several reasons. We’re idolators, because we pray to other saints than Jesus. The Eucharist is round, therefore it represents the sun (Yes, I clarified that with her. S-U-N, not S-O-N.) We pray for the dead (I’m not sure why this is bad.) . We curse and drink and listen to the Pope. (Apparently they’re not very familiar with the Catholic faith.).
My crushed little freshman soul came back to my roommate, a Lutheran and my best friend since 7th grade, and she said, “Well, yeah. At least, about the idolators bit.” The fuck? I’m going to hell and you didn’t let me in on this shiny little tidbit of info? I’ve been to your church! Granted, you made me borrow a dress, when I’d brought my church jeans, but I was alright with it. The pastor said nothing about evil idolatrous Catholics. My priest hasn’t said anything about heathenous Lutherans. Where the hell is this coming from?
And so, most of my life, I’ve been trying to figure out my own personal religion, and I think I’ve come full circle. I attempted Atheism when I was 12 and I was fucking miserable. Seriously, cried myself to sleep trying not to believe in God. Then daddy went fundamentalist, so I thought I’d give it a try. Not so much. I’m not really down with the entire world going to hell in a handbasket except me. ”Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone” and all.
Various shades of Protestant just feel off, and I really am uncomfortable with the whole guitar service, especially if the cantor can’t play guitar or sing. So it’s back to Mass with the family, passing the baby, getting glares from the people behind me when we try not to laugh and standing in the back with my brother when all the twice a year Catholics show up for Christmas and Easter.