When this post landed in our inbox,it spoke to me. I love it because it’s cleverly written, very honest, funny and thought-provoking but I really LOVE it because it makes me feel a bit uncomfortable. Weird, I know. You see, I was raised a Roman Catholic and if I’d held on to my ‘faith’ as it were, I could very easily have been in Katy’s shoes prior to our wedding. The fact that I didn’t keep my faith and wasn’t in those same shoes are interesting facts for me to face, as well as not knowing how I would have felt or reacted had I been. Lots to think about for a Thursday morning, that’s for sure! Over to Katy…
Here is my confession.
I am a Roman Catholic. Therefore, I am a Catholic Bride-to-be and soon to be Catholic bride and Catholic wife and eventually will be a Catholic Mother.
Why is this a confession?
Because in our current society declaring yourself to be a Catholic (or indeed some other Christian religions) in public feels like something akin to declaring you are actually a fluorescent yellow alien sent from Jupiter to suck people’s brains out at midnight on a full moon. And being a Catholic Bride to be means having to declare yourself a Catholic regularly, and therefore I have had a lot of practise recently.
People’s reactions to this confession tend to fall into 4 categories:
1. The Richard Dawkins disciples: They immediately tell you how stupid and misled you are and will throw facts, reasons and quotes at you in an effort to make you ‘see the light’. They will not rest until the party/meal/meeting/date is over and if you do not declare atheism to be “the only way an intelligent person can live” by the end of your time together they will often bombard your inbox with reasons as to why you are so stupid as to believe.
2. The Ignorers: They look nervous and change the subject straight away. They will search for someone, anyone to talk to apart from you. They will glance at you throughout the party/meal/meeting/date as if you are about to stand on your chair and shout “Crucify him” and get your rosary out. They will not, voluntarily, socialise with you again.
3. The Curious: They weren’t brought up within a religion or their parents are Christian but they never went to church. These ones look at you with interest and will ask questions. They may even ask you to say the Hail Mary. They look astounded when you explain about certain rituals and when you dispel certain preconceptions. They are interested and curious. Invariably, they are impressed and say “Well, good for you. I mean, in this day and age to hold onto your beliefs like that. Good on ya!”.
4. The in-the-closets or brought up Catholics: Yes, their parents and family is Catholic. No, they don’t practise anymore – but will probably baptise their children and probably take them to church. All said in a whisper to you or later on when you find yourselves alone. They normally say something like “My Mother goes to church every Sunday”. If you ever meet their Mother she will say, “Oh, but your (name), my sons/daughters Catholic Friend! How lovely, I have heard so much about you!” You will then chat about your parish, her parish and amateur flower arranging and then she will try and convince you to take her son/daughter to church.
So, those are my 4 categories. I’m sure others will disagree. My preference? Definitely category number 3, at least you can have a good conversation with them!
There are also invariably the FAQs – about the wedding, about me and about our relationship. Most people ask the same thing. Maybe I should answer them now as over the years I have developed automatic answers.
1. Yes, I was a Catholic school girl. Yes, I wore a kilt and knee high socks. Yes, there were Nuns and they wore habits. No, we weren’t sluttier than any other type of schoolgirl.
2. Yes, I have considered being a Nun. Very briefly.
3. No, I have never been ‘touched’ by a priest, nun, monk or any member of the church.
4. Yes, I go to church – not as regularly as I should though.
5. Yes, I am having a catholic wedding ceremony – yes it will be a Mass and yes, the priest is Irish.
6. No, I am not saving myself for marriage. No, I don’t believe that I will go to Hell because of this. Yes, we will both have to confess to our priest before we get married and then we can get married with a clean slate.
7. Yes, there will be hymns. Yes, there may be some in Latin. No, the whole mass is not in Latin. No, it does not last over 3 hours – it will be an hour and half tops.
8. Yes, we had to do a before-marriage course. I know that the priest who leads the course has-never-been-married-and-therefore-what-can-he-teach-you-about-marriage. I have never been married before either, so I can’t really tell if he is teaching us the right things or not.
9. Yes, we are getting married where I was baptised, had my holy communion and was confirmed. It is my Parish. It is my home.
10. Yes, I believe in the vows I am going to say. No, they don’t seem terribly old fashioned to me. No, I don’t ever intend to get a divorce and once I am married in the church I am married forever.
11. No, you don’t have to say anything during the mass if you don’t know what to say. Noone will poke at you and tell you that you are going to hell. You do not have to confess your sins to anyone. All you have to do is sit still and be quiet. No, no one will be healed and miracles will not be performed.
12. Yes, we will bring the future children up catholic. No, we will not wait until they can decide for themselves. It is a lot easier to decide not to believe at a later date than to decide to believe.
I know it would be easier to reply to people
“Yes, we are getting married in a Church – Why? Oh, you know my parents are Catholic and my Mum would be really upset if we didn’t have a church ceremony”
But, its not true. And that is why it is my confession. I am proud to be planning a catholic wedding ceremony and I have not been coerced into it. I will be walking into the same church and seeing the same faces that I have seen every week for most of my life and I know they will all be wishing us happiness with every cell in their body. The vows I am going to say are the same that generations before me have said. My future husband believes that God watches over us and so do I. The Church and its people will be the place we turn to when we have problems and we both know that we are never alone, He is always there.
I am a Catholic. Forever and ever. Amen.
p.s. Yes, I believe in Evolution. I’m a biologist. That’s a whole other kettle of fossilised fish!