Friday, November 16, 2007

The emphasis is on PRACTICING (Part I)

Just as with the law, the term practicing applies when you're a Catholic. Sure, I took the Bar Exam (while very pregnant, no less) and passed it. That gave me a license, but it did not make me a lawyer. That took a few years of going to work every day, beating my head against my desk and my computer screen, reading, learning, triumphing, and failing abysmally. Ten years out of school, and now relocated to a new state, I am starting all over again and am amazed by how much I still have to learn. I am a practicing lawyer with years of experience, but once again feel like a novice learning local law and custom. It is humbling.

My experience as a Catholic has been similar. It takes patience, trust, and sometimes it takes hard work to be a practicing Catholic. You have to accept that it is a lifelong learning process --from the simplest day laborer to the most sophisticated scholar, all of us have to be open to learning and challenging ourselves and our preconceived notions of what it means to be a practicing Catholic.

I was born a Catholic, but like many children of the post V-II era, received virtually ZERO foundation. My parents divorced when I was entering grade school, so I was not allowed to go to Catholic school (although my 3 older siblings were not asked to leave). At 6, you don't know what the adult issues are, so you blame yourself for your parents separating ("If I had just cleaned my room, if I cleared the table, if I had not drank that milk from the carton, my mom and dad would not be doing this...") so imagine the horror of "Even God is angry at me and Jesus does not want me at His school!" During the "we will not suffer another one of your little children" showdown, our parish priest (the one who would not let me into the school) called my mother a "whore and adulteress" when she began dating after the divorce, with me sitting in the hallway. (Never mind that my father was the adulterer who left the family). So my earliest memories of the Church was that it did not want me, and I was somehow at fault. (35+ year old me is over that, but it took awhile!) Oh yeah -- that priest was indicted for embezzlement shortly after we moved away, and just a few years ago convicted as a sex offender courtesy of some former altar boys.

Fast forward a few years to another parish. My father decided to remarry and sought an annulment -- he got it in an era when they were actually hard to obtain. During one of my rare teenage trips to confession, I asked the priest what it meant -- since the marriage should never have taken place, was I not meant to be here? Answer: "Well, in a sense, no. You are not the product of a legitimate marriage, and so in that way, you should never have been born." (What?!? ) Got home and told my happily single Mom, who looked at me over the top of her book, laughed and said "I've always said you were a bunch of little bastards!" (I cannot say it now with certainty, but I think the book was The Joy of Sex...) That was the last straw for me. God did not want me, and I sure as Hell wanted nothing to do with Him.

So how did I get to a place where I love my Church and my God? More on that later...


RC said...


Thank Heavens something good happened!

Angela M. said...

Where is the rest of the story?!

KitBrookside said...

Angela - I promise I will finish it by the end of this month!