Simple Religion

Yesterday I convinced a woman affiliated with the Catholic Church that they would want to baptize my son. In order to fully accomplish this I had to agree to register our family with St. Joseph’s parish. There is great potential that the beautiful stone church may be struck by lightning on May 29th.

I was baptized Catholic. Both of my parents were brought up Catholic (Irish and Italian!) and my mom even had dreams of the nunnery when she was young.  I remember finding her nun doll in my grandmother’s house once; packaged in a box that was covered with Catholic propaganda such as “The family that prays together, stays together.” (Clearly not enough praying going on in our house.) But somewhere along the way my parents became non-practicing and their brood were encouraged to make their own religious decisions. Although this could have resulted in some experimenting of shaving heads and passing out doomsday literature in Los Angeles we mostly just detached ourselves from organized religion in general. I have always had a nostalgic place in my heart for the Catholics, though. I have warm memories of going to church with my grandmother and sucking on Mentos while I waited in the pew for everyone else to receive communion. I even adopted a friend’s family for their Midnight Mass traditions; reveling in the song, light and holiness of the season.

Now, I find peace in yoga and meditation. My spirit is uplifted when creating and teaching.  I try my best to practice living a life worthy of being given.  I found this quote about five or so years ago and when I read it my heart opened with understanding.  The Dalai Lama (of course) had summed up my religious feelings here,

“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”

I had no need for a religion to tell me that I was wrong to prevent pregnancy until I was ready. I believe there is nothing wrong with controlling our outrageous population and creating secure and happy families. I also feel strongly that the love between any two people is perfectly acceptable. Since when is love unacceptable? Why would any religion claim that philosophy?  Some people just pick and choose the parts of their chosen religion to follow, but if I say that I’m Catholic (for example) I know that I’m summing up my beliefs. I don’t want to have to subtitle that with except-I-don’t-believe-that-gay-is-wrong-or-that-any-of-those-anti-feminist-rules-apply-to-me.

So, how then, one might ask, did I end up on the phone with the Portland diocese? It was a compromise with my husband. When it came time to make some important decisions regarding our baby I felt strongly about a particular issue and my husband felt strongly about saving the baby’s soul from potential damnation.  I bartered with my son’s soul and I’m okay with this.

My husband has an interesting relationship with the Catholic Church. From what I understand, his dad was on track to becoming a priest until he met Husband’s mother. I think the story I was told was that The Church basically shunned Husband’s dad for choosing a woman over his original goal. (I may totally remember this story wrong…but let’s pretend that’s true for the purposes of this post.) Despite this, my husband still developed a relationship with the Catholic religion. He was baptized, had his First Communion and was confirmed. He even went to the College of the Holy Cross as an undergrad.  But, when I met him he had essentially become non-practicing. Which suited me just fine.

When I think about myself as a spiritual sell-out I remind myself of the other person who is thrilled about the ceremony. My beloved 86 year old grandmother. I let her know early on that Husband had voted for a baptism and she quickly sewed a christening gown and bonnet. Unfortunately, it was supposed to fit Liam about 10 pounds and 9 months ago. My stipulation about the baptism was that Husband had to make the arrangements. Our marriage roles usually left event planning with me, but I felt like a sham calling the Catholic Church and making arrangements for a ceremony I hadn’t wanted in the first place. {sigh} I think it’s been made quite clear who ended up calling The Church. I tried to be stubborn and stand my ground. I actually had secretly hoped that if I left it to Husband it would never happen. But that damn christening gown was sewn with the binding needle and thread of Catholic Guilt. Every time I opened Liam’s closet it innocently and passive-aggressively chided, “You duped your poor arthritic grandmother into laboring over this gown for what? Do you want your grandmother to leave this world thinking that you are a liar? Wouldn’t it make her so happy to know that Liam wore this and had a little water splashed over his head? What’s a little water on the head compared to knowing you’ve LET YOUR GRANDMOTHER DOWN??”

My grandmother will be visiting over Memorial Day and this is what prompted my fingers to dial the number and convince the kind woman on the other end that we were Catholic enough to have the priest waste his time on us. Not only does Liam get to be baptized, but Husband and I are required to take a Baptismal class.  Yep, we have only had 2 dates sans bebe since May 2010, but we get to waste I mean spend a Tuesday evening doing whatever one does in a baptism class. I’m sure it’s thrilling and educational. You know what else should be a great time? When Husband and I attempt to have a conversation about godparents. Those decisions always happen without tension, right?

Let’s mop up the dripping sarcasm for a moment and I’ll leave you with my positive image of this whole event.  I might secretly admit to you that I have visions of being Miranda from Sex in the City during Baby Brady’s baptism episode…and envision my fabulous girlfriends wearing inappropriately couture frocks for the…

9:30 a.m. ceremony on Sunday of Memorial Day weekend with a less than trendy barbecue to follow.

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4 thoughts on “Simple Religion

  1. at the rate we’re going, delilah maeve will be telling father jack where she thinks he should shove his holy water while she’s being baptized.

  2. Pingback: Me Oh May | The Bebe Diaries

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