I am what you would call a lapsed Catholic. My family went to church every Sunday. We sometimes prayed before meals. I was baptized, received communion, and became confirmed. We all went to CCD every week for years. I was part of the youth group, part of the choir. I knew the priests, deacons and ushers by name.
At age 18, I went to a Catholic College on basically a full-ride scholarship. Through no fault of the school, or the church, or anything that people would normally blame for such a thing, I woke up one morning and God was gone. I looked at the chapel on campus and I just didn’t feel him there anymore.
My security blanket had disappeared, and it wasn’t coming back. I left the school, and paid to go to a state university instead.
As my children grow, I find myself pondering what I am going to do with them in terms of religion. Both my husband and I come from Catholic families. The babies are baptized, more to keep the peace than anything, although, I figure if there’s any truth to the baptized being saved, better to have it done than not. I’d like to save my kids in any way that I can. I’m not trying to be lighthearted about this, it’s just that I truly don’t know, and since that may possibly be a way to save them from Hell if there is such a place, there’s no reason not to do it. Other than, of course, we’re not following through on our promises to the church, as of right now.
But should we have to pay a price to a human church to gain the favor of God?
Don’t get me wrong, I think the church does a lot of good. I also know (I worked for them recently) that they are a human organization with facets that are completely wrapped up in human desires, like money and status.
I want my children to be good people. I want them to follow the ten commandments, not because they were handed down by God to Moses, but because they’re a good set of moral rules in my opinion.
I want my children to be able to make informed choices about their beliefs and ideas. I want them to have ideas. I know that being religious does not prevent that, especially as an adult, and I know that religious adults who fully understand their belief and the role it plays in their lives are capable of showing their children how to use that religion to further their own growth.
That’s not me, though. I don’t understand where I stand, so how can I properly inform my kids there? I wouldn’t have the answers to their questions. Many of my answers would be, because the man in the white robe says so. That’s a disservice to both the church and my children.
On the other hand, I’m disillusioned with the church I grew up with, while at the same time, still fiercely loyal to it, so that I couldn’t imagine changing religions, finding new things to like and dislike about a new belief system. I’m halfway through the journey in Catholicism, should I choose to go back. I don’t think I have the stamina to start from the beginning in some new faith. I don’t think I could bear the new disappoints sure to meet me when I find those religions also fail in many human ways.
So, where does that leave my kids? How can I prepare them for this complex other-worldly part of life that I don’t understand myself? Why is God a fear in my life as my kids develop and grow, and no longer the comfort He was in my own childhood? Do I really want them to wake up one morning as an adult and feel the marked pain of betrayal as the man in the sky vanishes before their eyes? Is it my right to project my experience onto them like that? Is it my right to push them into a religion or away from it? Where is the line?
Religion is a comfort to many people. On some level, it remains so for me. But mostly, it is a terrifying ordeal I’m going to have to straighten out in my own head before my children start asking questions.
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