Friday, November 16, 2007

The Things I Never Knew...

The Vatican has an observatory and an official (well retired) astronomer. I wonder if he has a replacement? Interesting.

I think one of my biggest fantasies is to wander the many rooms and buildings inside and around the Vatican, its library and private collections just to see what's inside.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Little steps

After about 6 months, maybe a little less, I finally became a member of the church where I've been going. I've never been a member of any parish on my own as an adult. This past weekend I signed a pledge that I'd support the church a certain amount every week. When it all comes out, it's not all that much per year, (I really can't afford a lot) and I don't mind giving. I just realized that if I'm going to promise to give the church money, I should "officially" join. I've been wanting to join for many other reasons as well.

My parents were a member of the "Mother Church" downtown for their entire lives. They may still be on the record books as being members. I was baptized, confirmed and made my first communion there, then I graduated from high school and pretty much stopped going to church. I'd go from time to time at the Newman Center at College with my sorority sisters and friends, but I wasn't part of the community. I didn't really feel like I needed the church in college.

Like one of my characters, I felt (back then) that it was antiquated and far too conservative for me. Yet, I have always believed in something. I'm not going to deny the fact that I'm a political liberal and sometimes feel a bit at odds with the conservative nature of the church especially as a whole. BUT... I'm also not so sure that priestly celibacy is a bad thing and while I'm a feminist, I don't accept the notion that women should be priests. Right now they cannot and probably never will be in my life time, but I don't think that's such a bad thing either. (Funny, how just a few years ago I thought I'd like to see those two things change one day, but in now I don't.) Yes, there are married priests in the Catholic church-- they've come from other religions and have been dispensed of the requirements of celibacy. I'm sure they are assets to the church and I accept that. I'm glad they are part of our church. The enhance it and probably make it a lot better. Maybe one day celibacy will be an optional thing and maybe it will work. I just am (surprisingly) more traditional than I thought. I'm not big on hand-holding during the "Our Father" or all the other gestures that seem to have come to the church since the days I went away. I've yet to see liturgical dance, Mom says it does happen in our parish, and I might just cringe at the sight of it, or maybe I'll go with the flow and accept it for what it is. Who knows?

The priests at my church are quite orthodox, quite human and reverent. I don't go around looking for mistakes or liturgical abuses, (as so many people seem to do and complain about in Catholic forums, blogs and newsgroups Oy vey... that's a whole other post.) that's not why I go to Mass. I go to hear the words of God and the Lord read, celebrate the sacrifice of the Mass and listen to what words father has to say that day. They're usually always right, thought provoking or pertinent to what's going on in the world today. I've never heard a light and fluffy homily yet.

So while I'm also very fond of tradition, I am also fond of the open mindedness and tolerance of my local archdiocese. It's progressive, while rooted in tradition, culture and history. It embraces and accepts, rather than rejects and casts aside. That's probably why I am able to practice Catholicism. I'm probably naive enough to think it's like that everywhere, but probably cynical enough to know otherwise.

Despite the "lost years", I've always felt Catholic. I have been around other faiths enough to know they don't fit. Catholicism, to me, is like a comfortable pair of old slippers. Always there and always comfortable. No matter how bad I feel come the end of the day my slippers always fit. I can pretty much walk into any Catholic church and find something I need: peace, soothing words, God, love... so...after all these years I've joined the parish where I've been going. I joined under my own name and we'll see where I go from there.

Back to my characters. It's interesting in how in one story one character goes back to the church and the other, probably never will. She will always be Catholic but I don't know if that particular character will find herself fully and wholly Catholic again.

The other interesting bit about this, my characters are first cousins (main characters in their own stories respectively). If anything my stories show where I've been in the last ten years I think.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Quiz Time...

I'm headachey...

So why am I taking quizzes? I should lie down till dinner.

You are 87% educated in Catholic truths!

Wow! You are totally educated in the Catholic faith. A real genius! Have you thought of teaching the faith to others? Be sure to share your wealth of knowledge with those who need it.

Catholic Truths
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You are a 92% traditional Catholic!

Congratulations! You are more knowlegeable than most modern theologians! You have achieved mastery over the most important doctrines of the Catholic Faith! You should share your incredible understanding with others!

Do You Know Your Baltimore Catechism?
Make Your Own Quiz

Friday, November 2, 2007

Boo! You Scared Yet.

So... I'm glad to know that I'm a Catholic and a relatively sane one. I have the "documentary" channel on my DISH line up and just saw (passively) a documentary on some Evangelical church (probably in the bible belt) about the "Hell House" it does every year. I've seen news pieces on these alternatives to haunted houses and yes, they scare me... not because I'm worried about my soul or anything about that because I don't find any truth in that sort of message.

I've also read an interesting thread on a Catholic news forum. I've believed nor was lead to believe that there was anything intrinsically evil about Halloween. (I don't like dressing up in costume-- I didn't as a kid, I don't know. I don't care for costume balls either) but I enjoy watching kids in their costumes, passing out candy is a lot of fun and I know if I am lucky enough to have my own child one day, I will do the Halloween scene with my kid)
But lately, I've read more about how Halloween is evil, Satanic and just not at all a good thing. There is evil that happens on Halloween, but I believe it's man-made evil, which has nothing to do with Satan. I believe True Evil exists but I don't think that it all comes out on Halloween. It's all around us a, but I also don't believe that "the Devil made me do it" is the eve before All Saints Day and it's not a bad thing.

Their version of Christianity is not what I believe nor what I grew up to believe as a Catholic. I don't believe that I believe blindly nor do I feel like my faith (and religion) is any better-- Catholicism has its faults-- but it just makes so much more sense to me. To others, it doesn't, but I wasn't taught to hate, condemn or judge anyone when I was growing up. I know other non-Catholic Christians who feel and believe just as I do, but some of these Christian Extremists, as I think that these folks are, exist only to create fear and hate, not love and peace which should be the true message of Christ. I just found myself sitting here perplexed at all the effort these Christians put into these "productions" when they could be doing something so much productive than using scare tactics to evangelize.

Updated: I read later, that the creator of Hell House came from Roswell, NM (I believe) so... it didn't realy come from the bible belt per se.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

All Saints Day...

I've been unintentionally absent from this blog. I have a post that I am still trying to articulate in my head before I actually sit down to write it. I'm just muddling through life and working through a lot of things.

But I continue on my journey back to the Catholic Church. Honestly I don't think I've really been that far away and I've always known that I'd never become any other religion. My non-denominational and evangelical acquaintances (some family and maybe even a few friends) have all invited to me to their churches and services but I usually politely say no thank you, I'm Catholic and not interested. I've never had a negative reaction-- and oddly enough they have not pressured me to come to their church once they discover I'm Catholic.

Lately, I don't know if it's because I've been doing a lot of reading and studying about Catholicism these days-- (as I'm writing a story which is turning out to be very, very heavy on the Catholicism. I hope it's not heavy handed, preachy and not overly religious because that's not the story I planned to tell. But when you make a main character have a brother who is a priest, some of that inevitably comes out. I really hope my story is rational and that someone who isn't Catholic can read it and enjoy it) -- and I've also become quite aware of all the anti-Catholicism out there. I really grew up in an unique place. Most of my peers were Hispanic and Catholic and so I never felt any animosity based on my ethnic background or religion, but with the Internet times are a changing.

Also, I've discovered that there are a lot of Catholics (I think maybe a small percentage) that I just can't agree with or understand. I won't deny that I'm liberal politically and socially. I'm pragmatic and try to see the world with eyes wide open. I'm not saying that a lot of Catholics don't, but sometimes, when I see or read something so conservative, so utterly "evangelical-like" or ludicrous my mind boggles. I'm totally not making any sense and will have to come back and think these thoughts through.

Nonetheless, the Internet is an interesting place. I'm leaving this a bit cryptic and will save my thoughts for another time-- however, I wonder if I could be comfortable worshiping in a Catholic church/parish/diocese that isn't like my own?