Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I miss being Catholic, but that's not going to stop me

This is a short and choppy discussion of my faith. I want it to be more poetic and pretty but I'm short on time so this is what I offer.

Now . . . let's bow our heads and pray . . .

I dare anyone to find a more beautiful church than a Catholic Church. There are miles of red velvet, large stain glass windows and sculptures that can stop your breath. What other place of worship can offer this? In Kansas no less??!!

And don't get me started on the robes. Red, purples, golds . . . and black and white too.


I miss it. I'm not sure if any of you were raised Catholic or if it meant anything to you but I did and it does. I was even confirmed. Which means I chose that church.

Then I morphed into a creative and unique individual. Artsy as all get out. I started rejecting the church on moral grounds. The Catholic church says gays are bad and so is birth control. Also, women not need apply for priesthood. All of this was intolerable for me as a teenager.

I left God fall by the way side for about ten years. Biting and fighting any mention of God or Jesus. Angry and punk about all of it.

At age 20 or so I went to Amsterdam. It was a cheap flight. I was still a nursing student. I had never been to Europe and was smacked dumb by the cathedrals. At that point, I was already questioning my non faith. I was finding myself a little more needy at that point. Needy for a religion.

I wanted to find a priest and go to confessional. I wanted to cry and say, "Look, I'm feeling all this beauty in my life. I'm becoming a nurse and seeing all this life and death and blood and guts stuff, and it's breaking my heart. And I can't fight this anymore, my need to know God, in whatever form I can reach him or her. Help me please."

But I didn't do that because I knew that the Catholic Church is not my church. I can't have it be my place of worship if they don't let everyone come. If they are in charge. Because I've never felt God is higher or above me. I've felt faith and the ties that bind us all. I just want to get closer to that spirit.

Sigh. I didn't do anything on that trip.

After I got home, I did date Mr. Hall though. I trusted him enough to begin talking to me about religion. He never shared without me asking first. He was very kind and loving with me. Still is.

Then we went to Mr. Hall's church. It was in the bottom level of a house. It was run by South Korean missionaries. South Korean missionaries who came to the United States no less. And there I was, sitting on a metal folding chair, trying to understand the sermon. Because even though the pastor had been in the US for ten years, he still had a thick accent. It was like listening to Jackie Chan preach the gospel.

Then there was the retreat. That'll be a separate post. But, this was when my heart started opening up to God. Then I went to bible study. I found myself becoming a better wife, a better mom and a better nurse.

Now we are settled in our new house. My longing for my old church, here in my hometown, was very strong. "Can we please try St. Mary's?", I say to Mr. Hall. "I mean, I know all the prayers, when to sit, when to kneel. I know it all there. I don't have to guess what I am doing. It's my church."

Then I talk further and my argument gets weaker. Then I start to really talk about it.

The problem is, is that the Catholic Church is top heavy. For too long it's placed the priests on the same level as God. It creates an idea that God is separate, like a father figure watching over us. As such, those further up the food chain, the priests and the bishops, they have a lot of power over the organization. And like most top heavy conglomerations, the workers receive a less of the largess. But instead of less pay, we get less God.

I can say that I need faith. I need to be actively seeking out the love and spirit.
So, no matter how much I miss the rituals and sacraments, I am still a seeker.
And missing the Catholic Church is not going to stop me.

And at this point, I've been to a local church twice now. Seems very nice, all sorts of warm and open. And this place, this is where I begin.

Thank you for reading this. NOW-


16 Left a message at the beep:

Verdant Earl said...

Catholic churches and cathedrals are okay. On a visual level, I mean. So are some Greek Orthodox cathedrals I've been in. And there are some gorgeous Islamic mosques out there. I've been in one or two.

I'm not sure that any religion or any place of worship is any better than any other religion or place of worship.

Whatever floats yer boat, is what I say. And yeah...I grew up Catholic, but I'm not Catholic now.

Slyde said...

faith has been a sticky subject for me lately.

i have some issues with the catholic church, and have had for some time. too much to go into now, but it really came to a head when i got married.

my wife recently told me that she wants us to start going to church so mini-me can get into the habit. im not so sure that i WANT to get him into the habit.

what to do?

That Hank said...

I've never been Christian, but I have close friends who are Lutheran and Episcopal. Both of those mix a lot of thought in with their worship. Episcopal churches are also quite beautiful - they consider themselves "Protestant, yet Catholic".

Mrs. Hall said...

Earl: Yeah orthodox, old timey religions, all beautiful churches. good times, good times. . .

Slyde: well, if you're asking me . . . exposing your kid to religion in an organized and loving way will be of benefit.

so yeah, get out there and sample some churches. ya never know what you'll find or feel :)

Downtown guy: yeah, blending is good. and welcome by the way. I hope you have enjoyed your stay at la blog de senora hall...;)

Unknown said...

I've never been of a certain religion, but I agree that Catholic churches are some of the most beautiful buildings I've ever seen.

Maureen@IslandRoar said...

Very interesting post. I was raised Catholic; my parents are fairly "devout." All my 3 kids went thru CCD and the youngest will be confirmed in March. I married a non-religious Lutheran. I almost wanted him to be religious because I knew I wanted my kids to attend church and experience the bible stories and traditions and then decide for themselves when they were old enough. But alas, if they were going to have religion, it was to be mine. I too, disagree with some very basic principals of the church. I've had non-religious friends give me a very hard time for attending a Catholic church, telling me I can't take the parts I like and leave the rest. But I guess, in a way, that's just what I'm doing. I guess for me it is the feeling of peace, of familiarity I get when I'm there. The friendly people that know my kids, our amazing priest who is pretty open (this is MA, after all...), and wonderful to us. I had some amazing relationships with priests (and not in the way people are thinkiing) as a teen in my youth group. Somehow I've been able to separate their guidance and kindness from the top-heavy crap. I'm sure it's partly lah-lah land too. Now I think, at 48, I'm just too old to try a new church. I LIKE knowing the people, and knowing every word by heart. Even my atheist son, when he was with a choral group in Ireland, singing in an Easter mass one year in HS, said he felt a kinship to the people. He knew the words and the ritual of the mass, and he felt at home.He comes to mass with us on Easter and Christmas and I'm happy with that; I tell him it's about family, not necessarily God, and I try to point out the wonderful things religious people do to help the poor around the world. Who knows what he'll do as a parent. I only hope my grandkids get some introduction to some organized religion, whatever it might be. From there they can decide.
OMG, I've written a book here; sorry, but a very thougght-provoking topic. I wish you luck in your spiritual journey, wherever it leads you!!

Mrs. Hall said...


Pick and choose and sing and praise and feel the love! It's all good and dangit! This is what I am talking about. Church is more than just a place, it is a place to grow and to be with family!! To learn the bible stories and to understand there are bigger forces at work in the universe besides us!!


Bruce Johnson said...

Catholics....? Owww, don't even get me started on the Spanish Inquisition....not to mention a few other blunders throughout the ages.

That Hank said...

The thing is, you don't need a church to have any of that. My family was never a part of any organized religion, but we grew, we explored our spirituality and the bigger forces of the universe, we were part of a tight family and a tight-knit community, etc. We even learned the Christian bible stories, right alongside other world mythologies.

A church can be important, but it is by no means necessary. I'm grateful that I do not have that baggage in my background, for good or ill.

Mrs. Hall said...

Bruce: Noone suspects the Spanish INQUISITION!!!

(catch that reference and you get two points.)

Downtown Dude: Well hey there, welcome back. Did you crack open the home page and check out the Mrs. Hall Hall of fame yet?

Um, yes, this is my task. introducing religion without creating baggage. Here's hoping :)

Bruce Johnson said...

I can't think of the reference, but I suspect Monty Python.

Hey, on a totally un-related Catholic topic, the host of Saturday Night Live on January 30th is going to John Hamm.....you know "Donald Draper". There will have to be at least one Mad Men skit, so the wife and I will probably stay up to watch that.

Mrs. Hall said...

Yes! it is Monty Python!!

And Don Draper on SNL! RIGHTEOUS!!!

that show Bruce, offt!, I loves me that Man Men!!

Anonymous said...

as many are wonderful sights its the aura they have with them that truly make them beautiful

Jim said...

Catholics definitely have the pageantry thing down . . .

And they know the instructions for using the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch.


Cam said...

Do NOT tell me that you were Catholic and you married a Church of Christer...

Please, because you KNOW why.

Ask anyone on my Facebook with a Georgia location and they can tell you...they met me when we moved down here and started going to the church Bergen went to when he lived down here before. The one his grandpa & dad used to preach at- Church of Christ of Blackshear.

Bergen's dad and his grandfather are both Church of Christ preachers. Well, actually, I'm not sure that his dad still is because he hasn't preached for a few years now, but he was the whole time Berg was growing up. That's why they moved down here to south Georgia (and Arkansas, and Utah, and Kansas, and Kentucky for that matter) when Berg was in high school.

And, I, of course, was Catholic. Though, not by birth. I converted at the age of 13 because I fell in "love" with a Catholic boy and his family started taking me to church with them. (my stepdad's family is also Catholic) I was baptized and confirmed. Got the paperwork to prove it. haha. I can genuflect with the best of 'em. I stopped going years ago. But, I still feel homesick when I visit a Catholic church. I also cannot get down with the cornerstones of the religion. Just can't. But, the beauty...sigh. Nothing like it.

We're going to Savannah tomorrow and will be visiting St. John's. You should visit it online at http://savannahcathedral.org/ It is the most beautiful cathedral that I've seen yet.

Will the crazysauce between us ever end, Mrs?

Cam said...

I mean, will the crazysauce ever end if Mr. Hall is a C of C'er???

If not, discard that statement.

If so, please see above. :)

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