I think I am having a crisis of church. Which, in my opinion, is different than a crisis of faith.
I feel pretty comfortable with my belief system. Likewise with my relationship with God. I don’t have all the answers, and sure, there are days when I wonder if it’s all just a big joke. But so did Mother Theresa. So, you know, I feel good about this.
My problem is Sunday services. We go to the Catholic Church in our neighborhood. It’s a small parish, mostly families from our neighborhood. Many that we know, but I’m not going to go so far as to say that we have gotten involved in our church community. The priest is nice. The other parishioners are nice. No complaints about the choir or the coffee or any of it. It’s all just fine.
Unless you are two and five, in which case it is the most horrible awful ordeal that you have ever been forced to endure. Which means that every Sunday morning I either:
1) engage in a major battle to get everyone out of bed, dressed and somewhat polished so that we can race to 9:00 mass – the only one offered - where we then threaten our kids with a doughnut boycott for an hour if they don’t sit still and “use their whisper voices”.
2) Lie in bed in a pool of guilt and rationalize how it just isn’t worth it to engage in the aforementioned battle.
It has been about 5 years since I’ve actually sat and listened to the priest, or followed along in the missle, or…lets face it…not left church feeling pretty frazzled and cranky. Which strikes me as not really what it’s all about.
Am I right?
I don’t know what to do though. We have attended other churches over the years. But nothing has clicked. The church my brother and sister-in-law attend is not only in our neighborhood, but they have about 4 different services to choose from, a choir that sounds like a rock band, and…hello…DAYCARE. You drop your little kids off for an hour of play. Your older kids go to their own kids’ service that they love, and you go have an hour of spiritual bliss. I mean, really, I love this. Right?
Well, kinda. Mostly. I don’t know. There’s a couple of things holding me back. Thing one is that their church is in the process of building a new campus clear across town. To another town actually. And that seems incredibly problematic to me. Thing two is that while we certainly love my BIL and SIL, we’ve spent our fair share of time around a lot of families from their church. And I feel a little bit like a hypocrite around them because I am just not as conservative as they are. (Again, these are lovely, wonderful people. That was not intended to put anyone down. This is about ME. Me who thinks gay people should be able to get married. Me who doesn’t get through the weekend without a bottle of merlot. Me who votes pro choice, albeit conservatively and not without some cringing involved.)
For some reason being Catholic and all of those other things has just never been a problem for me. Oddly enough, Catholicism in Idaho is fairly liberal. They tend to lean more toward “Love they neighbor” and the rest is a big mix of “don’t ask don’t tell” and “pray for forgiveness”. So I have my little list of things that me n’ the Good Lord are going to have to work out one of these days. But, I have no fear of lightening striking me as I walk through the doors of the church.
And then there’s thing three, which is, I’M CATHOLIC. It sort of seems like deciding not to be Italian, or American, or white. It’s just what you ARE. If there is not incense and a little stand up sit down during the services, I just don’t feel like it really counted. Not to mention the Virgin Mary. I absolutely adore the Blessed Mother and feel a pretty strong connection to her. If you’re not Catholic she barely figures in, right?
So. There you have it. I don’t know what to do. I haven’t known what to do for several years, so I have just been stuck on this hamster wheel of guilt and frustration. But now it’s all coming to a head, because Sweet Pea is in her first year of Catechism classes, and she is starting to understand that SHE is the only one who spends any time at our church. (She goes on Wednesday nights. So it doesn’t help us on Sunday morning.)
Ugh. I don’t know. Someone fix this for me.