Catholic Rituals

My son is a devout Catholic. He has internalized the teachings of the church after the decade of indoctrination I helped pay for. As a 14-year old, he is an altar boy. He takes his job seriously. As such, he serves each Sunday.

Now that his parents are divorced, getting to mass is more of a chore. His mother signed the family up at a parish a few towns away. The boy is with me most weekends, so that means I am carting him off to mass.

This isn’t an issue. It is interesting, however, as I have certainly turned my back on the Catholic faith specifically and Christianity as well. Even so, my daughter (a devout non-believer herself) and I sit in the pew Sunday after Sunday.

This began with me taking the approach that despite my issues with the church, the underlying lessons are good. I don’t need to genuflect, receive communion, etc. to reinforce the lessons of how to lead a good life.

Way back when I went through RCIA (Right of Christian Initiative for Adults) to become a Catholic. Father Carmel stated upon hearing I was reared Episcopalean that Episcopals know thei bible and that Catholics would do well to emulate that more. That always stuck with me.

Mass yesterday brought that to light. The Gospel and Monsignor’s homily certainly preached a lesson. The balance of the show was all dogma. Kneeling, making the sign of the cross, bowing, praying, paying, etc. There’s a hell of a lot of ritual to the mass and not much good stories.

I happen to be reading Meditations right now. There was a passage that I read:

“40. The gods either have power or they have not. If they have not, why pray to them? If they have, then instead of praying to be granted or spared such-and-such a thing, why not rather pray to be delivered from dreading it, or lusting for it, or grieving over it? Clearly, if they can help a man at all, they can help him in this way. You will say, perhaps, ‘But all that is something they have put in my own power.’ Then surely it were better to use your power and be a free man, than to hanker like a slave and a beggar for something that is not in your power. Besides, who told you the gods never lend their aid even towards things that do lie in our own power? Begin praying in this way, and you will see. Where another man prays ‘Grant that I may possess this woman,’ let your own prayer be, ‘Grant that I may not lust to possess her.’ Where he prays, ‘Grant me to be rid of such-and-such a one,’ you pray, ‘Take from me my desire to be rid of him.’ Where he begs, ‘Spare me the loss of my precious child,’ beg rather to be delivered from the terror of losing him. In short, give your petitions a turn in this direction, and see what comes.”

Seems dead on to me.

I will not dissuade my son nor will I cease to attend mass. It’s an indifferent, I suppose. It is so interesting, however, to sit in the pew non-engaged for the first time in my life and see the show in such a different light than I was reared to see it.

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