Saturday, December 23, 2006

You Didn't Think We Would Avoid Talking About Religion, Did You?

As a Catholic I attend mass every Sunday. Sunday after Sunday after Sunday I sit, stand, kneel, and pray in unison with all the other dutiful parishioners. Every mass follows the same formula. No surprises, no variations. Often I sit and wonder how many other people are sitting and wondering about what they will do after mass, what’s for lunch, or how quickly they will be able to get to their car after the final prayer. After all, when you are on Mass Autopilot, it is sometimes difficult to keep your eyes on the road.

Why do we feel this way? Obviously many of us feel compelled to attend. Why aren’t we engaged? Could it be the outdated views of Catholicism? I’m sorry, but the rhythm method just doesn’t cut it for most women these days. Birth control is a practical matter. Socioeconomics plays a factor as does emotional well being. How about priests? I won’t sink to citing the statistics of sexual abusers and voyeurs of child pornography. I will, however pose this question: Would the priesthood be more effective if a priest was allowed to marry? I, for one, would much rather see a priest for family/marital counseling if he had some first hand knowledge. Maybe more well-balanced individuals would be swayed to follow a religious calling… maybe even some women? Confession is another sticky subject. If God can hear my prayers, why can’t I just confess to him directly? Why, exactly, do I need a middle man? Every single week the Catholic homily either tells us we had better become better Christians, confess our sins, or give money for the repair of the week/mission of the week/appeal of the week because we have not yet made our “fair share” to the diocese. (That one burns me. One year we were told that the diocese was charging interest on our “debt” because we didn’t cough up our fair share. This, after we pledged over $2 million for the new parish center!)

Unfortunately the Church continues on as it has for centuries, with minor tweaks and adjustments, keeping us captive by guilt, obligation and the need to include religion in our lives, even if we don’t agree with 100% of the rules. Still, many don’t actually engage, or if they do, it is on their own unique terms.

Let’s talk about some of the parishioners who do attend.

So many fair-weather Catholics flock to masses during Advent and Lent, the senior citizens who traditionally park in the Getaway Lane… um, I mean the Fire Lane… are put out with having to park in an actual delineated space in the confines of the parking lot. But don’t worry too much, when the holiday is past, or if it’s sunny or there’s a football game being televised or anything more than a flurry of snow, the lot will be deserted once again.

There are also the “take the communion and run” Catholics. You’ve seen them. They carry their coat/hat/purse with them and as soon as the body of Christ hits their tongue they are out the door before “amen” leaves their lips.

One of my favorites is the “recessional caboose”. The priest, servers, and readers have just begun their exit when someone who just cannot wait to leave, joins in behind the group as if they are the last float in the parade.

Those who actually stay through the end of the mass seem to view the final notes of the last hymn as a starting gun. They race to the exits, jump in their cars and are very un-Christian in their approach to leaving the parking lot. Do NOT try to ease in front of these people. Any feelings of good will towards men were left in the pew.

What can the Church do about any of these things? How about changing things up once in awhile? Give a homily that explains how the scriptures relate to real life. Let priests marry and have families so that they may understand the needs of the parishioners. Make us want to attend Church to be closer to God and to enjoy the service. Hmmm… I don’t know, but I’m thinking it may have to be an act of God.



TomCat said...

Hi Women. This is hard for me because I am not Catholic, much to my chagrin in my young teenage years, because the two prettiest girls in my neighborhood at that time were Catholic and not allowed to go out with me because I wasn't. I am a Christian, but I'm a denomination of one. I don't think I could accept some of the Catholic Church's doctrines, the ones you mentioned. Mainstream liberal churches seem too much like you described the emptiness in your services. And the churches of the religious right..... well..... they seem the modern day equivalents of the Pharisees and Sadducees that Jesus so strongly opposed. So, while I can offer no solution to your dilemma, I can at least agree how difficult it can be to maintain a religious identity in today's world.

TomCat said...

P.S. A very Merry Christmas, or whatever holiday you may celebrate, to all here.

HecticbutHappy said...

Excellent I can't even tell you how much I agree with all your points! I write a little about religion (Catholic) on my blog and your friend said I should check out your post. I love it. I expecially love the procession joiners and the communion runners lol! See them every week.