I apologize for not posting yesterday. I’m sure the loyal reader was quite concerned with my absence and I thank you for your constancy. I was attending a funeral yesterday for my “Uncle’s” father. I say, “Uncle”, because he’s been dating my Aunt for something like 20 years but they’re not married. He is family now so I guess it’s okay to call him Uncle.
I’ve been to far too many funerals in my life. In fact, my sister, cousins and I have been going to funerals so much that as children we used to play, “funeral”. One of us would lie on the couch and pretend to be the deceased while the other cousins played the mourners. We played it like other children played school or hop-scotch. So needless to say, we’ve gone to a lot of funerals.
Yesterday was another notch in the old funeral stick. However, there were some distinct ritualistic details of the Catholic service that had me perplexed. Apparently the Catholic Church decided they needed to update some of the tired and worn out practices put in place by Vatican II in the 1960’s. These changes really threw me and my sister off. We were very used to our catholic school upbringing and rote memorization of the proper responses to what the priest said. Now they’ve gone and changed it.
Instead of saying, “And also with you”, you now say something like, “May his spirit rise up your skirt”, or something like that. It really threw me for a loop. The priest performing the mass was kind enough to point out a handy little placard in the pews that instructed us non-practicing Christians on what the new lines were. I have to say, I wasn’t impressed. I’d almost rather they go back to Latin. At least then we could all say, “Yeah, I’m bilingual. I speak English AND Latin”. Plus if we had learned Latin I bet it would have been easier to learn another foreign language, like French or German.
The service had its curveballs and I muddled through but there was something the priest said that did resonate with me. (Which was rare because I usually tune religious services out completely). The priest made mention of the Church as a community that was there to support each other through tough times like a death in the family. I thought that was very true and for once I was glad to have been part of the Christian tradition. That feeling lasted for a few seconds until the priest sort of twisted it into something about it was all God’s will anyway and we should turn ourselves over to His glory in all things.
I have a problem with the whole, “here’s your free will, now freely turn it over to me”, way of thinking the Church seems to have. It’s so, “make you own decisions, but if they aren’t our decisions we’ll excommunicate your ass”, kind of hypocrisy. I don’t know. It’s sort of like the changes the Church made to the mass. It was designed to get the community more engaged in the service but from my perspective, I felt like I had been left behind and that the rituals I was so familiar with were no longer mine to have. I’m not holding your hand during the Our Father, I’m just not. I’m very Depeche Mode Personal Jesus about church.
I don’t want my religion to tell me what to do or how to think. I want them there just as the priest described; as a moral and ethical support group to help me up when I fall. I want them to be a shoulder to cry on and a pat on the back, without any judgment on me or my deeds. They should forgive and forget like a true friend and not ask me to turn my will over to them.
They can keep the changed rituals and responses. I’ll keep my God close to my chest and let the other’s squabble over how to pray. (Have I been on a religious kick lately?)