It is no secret that I am not an overly religious person. I grew up Catholic with a cradle Catholic family on both sides. Yes, we are from the South. No, we are not Baptist. Yes, it happens. And just in case you are not aware, cradle Catholics are basically people that are born into the Catholic religion and that is that. You are 'Catholic from the cradle'.
Both of my parents came from huge Catholic families. My grandmother on my mother's side was one of fourteen, and had four of her own; and my father's mother was one of five, but had eight of her own. Needless to say that is a whole lotta rosary beads being prayed on! I remember growing up going to church. It was just what you did. You went to CCD on Wednesday afternoon and then had a spaghetti dinner that evening. Sports? Nope. Not on Wednesday. There was church. You only went to one mass on the weekend...either Saturday evening, Sunday early mass, or Sunday 1000 mass. Some parishes had a Sunday evening mass, and we thought those people were lucky. See, it did not matter where you went. If it was summer and you were on vacation, you could bet your parents had already found the local church. There was no getting around it. You. were. going. There were sacraments to be made and in a certain frame of time. You made it to school? You were going to CCD. You were sick and could not go to school? If you were not contagious, you were going to CCD. There were times that I dreaded it. But no matter how much I protested, I would not win. Big G would. And in my family, he always would.
Now do not get me wrong, my parents were not 'tell everybody you know why they should come to our church' type people. We were Catholic after all, and we just did not go around converting people. Our church community was tight-knit. When a family in the parish was suffering we pitched in. Food was a staple. Someone sick? We cooked. Someone pass? We cooked. Have a new baby? We cooked. Maybe that is where I get the need to cook so much from. We always had food. If there was a family that had fallen on hard times, then we would have 'family dinners' with tons of extra family. It was the way it was. And I loved it. Being Catholic is more than just hitting up church in your Sunday best two or three times a week. To get together with your 'church family' and show off the new car, or purse. To be Godly in his presence and then turn around and talk bad about people. To tout that we do not drink or dance and then hit up the club the night before. It is a way of life. And by sweet goodness, if we do gossip or talk bad or stay out drinking too late one night, we go to confession. I am not bashing anyone else. We just have some overly overly overly religious friends who are constantly spouting scripture and wrapping up venom in prayer and thinking it is OK. All the while claiming to be Christian in public. That makes me irritated. I do not claim to be perfect. I do not expect others to be perfect. I expect you to realize that neither one of us are, and accept it or move on down the road. Do not wrap a 'I think what you're doing is wrong please Big G pray for these people and help me to keep my mouth shut' package and proclaim it as his word. It does not work that way in my world. We are all different. We all choose to believe or not believe certain things. I am fine with that. But do not tell me what I believe is wrong, and I will not tell you what you believe is wrong. Because then you are doing it all wrong. Big G made us all different for a reason. And He wants us to get along and live in peace and love one another. Not criticize each other, when really it's all the same Big G.
When I moved the summer before the third grade I was devastated. I missed my friends and my family. The first thing we did, was hit up the local parish and boom instant friends. Matter of fact, one of my best friends still today, my Small Surgeon, was one of the first people I had met through school. Why? Because we were both Catholic, she was new, I was new, battabingbattaboom, instant friends. We have stayed friends. Her with her medical degree and me with my two heathens. All because the church was in our lives.
One thing I have noticed over time is that at one time or another Catholic's will do one thing...stray from the church. At one point or another in their lives, they get tired of the ritual and routine. And they stray. I strayed. After I finished high school I really tried to continue with church but my anger over losing my mom was too strong. And I hated Big G for taking her. She was the church secretary, a devout Catholic and Christian woman, who had fought to have the kids she did. She and my father were active in everything church, made sure they brought their kids up in the same loving environment, and were kind people. Why on earth he chose to take her when she was so needed at home, made me angry. It took me a long time to get over that anger with Big G. But as a Catholic, I knew it would pass, he would forgive me, and I would return. You see, it is that ritual and routine that as we get older we long for. The 'I had to do it and you will too' part of it. I was baptized, made my sacraments, enjoyed CYO, and did what I was supposed to do, and by the heavens so will my kids!
I tried to return when I was pregnant with Big'K and did for a long time. After she was born I got her baptized. After that I got back in it whole heartedly, was the CYO leader, taught CCD, and really enjoyed my time. After a small disagreement with the priest for reasons I will not discuss, I left the church. Completely. After the birth of Lil'K, she was baptized, and I left again. When Big'K hit second grade I realized that it just was not right. I needed to get back in and get her sacraments on the right course. When she was in the 5th grade we jumped in and got the ball rolling. I have been back in the church off and on since then. But about a year and a half or so ago I just felt empty. Like I was missing something. I started going to early mass after I got off my night shift and realized what it was. I was missing my church. The church I grew up in. The church I had had a love/hate relationship with for so long. I was ready. Since then I have made an effort to get to mass every weekend, and get the kids there too. I have really tried to make it a priority on the weekends to make sure we go. Which, believe me, is just as surprising to me as it is to everyone else. CCD started today and the girls were there. Even Lil'K who had to wake up early just to be there. She did great! By the time we were half way through mass though, she began to get a bit sleepy and started to get fidgety. But all in all it was OK.
Being back in church, seeing all the faces I remember from what seems like ages ago, is comforting. I do not feel as if people are judging me, looking at me and the girls and thinking what I must have done. It is all the same old eyes, and faces, and they are welcoming. Most of them watched me grow up or grew up with me and now as adults are returning as well with families in tow.
That year and a half ago I do not know what made that push for me to feel like I needed more. But the intensity of it hit even harder about 8 months ago. I can feel something calling. Something really deep. I am just not sure what it is yet. I mean I know what it is. It is Him. He wants me to do something. For Him. In His name. I am just not sure what it is. And being how flighty I am lately I do not want to commit to the things I see opening up at church just yet. CYO leader. CCD teacher. Alter Society. That is all just too much right now. But I know He will push me and I will end up further into the church. Like my mom was. It is only a matter of time and He will get me back. I had asked one of my cousins, who is a very big part of her parish, what I should do. She told me "One morning before mass I was overcome with emotion. I had been getting very emotional after communion and could feel something stirring. I was not happy in general and knew He was calling me. I kneeled down and said a short prayer. I told Him, if it was his will to just show me what He wanted me to do, that I was ready and would follow. And He did. So when you are ready, tell him and he will give it to you. Just be careful and be sure you are ready." It was some of the best religious advice I have ever received.
I am not an overly religious person. I do not walk around making sure everyone knows I am Catholic. I do not 'thank my Lord and Saviour and Father God above watching down on me' in public or out loud every time I am given the chance. I know He is there. He knows I am here. I am good. I do not go around and convert people, or tell them they should go to church. Every once in a while I will say something or get a tiny bit religious about something. But that is it. But lately, when I go to mass, after communion I get emotional. Moved to the point of tears. And I just cannot help but feel he is calling me. To do something.
But I know what will happen when I tell Him I am ready.
And I am just not sure I am ready yet.
But eventually I will be, and he will accept me, and forgive me, and lead me. And I will feel whole again. I hope this time comes soon. And although I may not be praying for him to lead me at the moment I am praying that he makes me open to his wishes. And helps me to prepare to get ready.
And that my friends is the religulous side of your YaYa.