Friday, March 29, 2013

Has Vatican Been Reading My Blog?

     It is kinda funny how excited people became over the installation of the new Pope.  I mean, like non-Catholic people.  There were all these "authorities" interviewed on the news speculating on who the candidates were, special news editions outlining the leadership of the church; live coverage of the smoke coming out of the chimney of the Vatican; so weird.  Then when the Pope was finally chosen my Facebook feed lit up with everyone announcing their thoughts and opinions, most of them not Catholic.  I mean, sure, it's a big deal but it is just so bizarre that anyone cares about it outside the Catholic Church.  Maybe I am just unsure how to handle news coverage of the Church that isn't scandalous.
     I've got my fingers crossed for this new guy; he's got a lot of potential.  Whats more, I am excited by this new direction the leadership of the Church seems to be taking by making this decision.  For starters, I like that the cardinals did not choose anyone who was once a Nazi.  I am firm believer that when faced with a difficult decision, the step that leads away from the Nazis is a probably safest.  Write that down, and put it in your wallet: that advice is golden.
     But this guy has a lot of promising qualities, outside of his not being associated with the Third Reich.  For starters, I am pretty psyched that he is a Jesuit.  Jesuits are kinda the rebel order of the Catholic Church.  They are the academic branch of the Church that while technically vowing submission to the papacy, are definitely willing to go their own way if they don't like what the Vatican is up to.  They are more into good theology and social justice, and not so much about dogma, or maintaining specific traditions.
     And they make the conservatives crazy, which is super fun.
     Now, that is not to say that they are necessarily socially progressive.  This Pope in particular while  demonstrating a liberal attitude towards the traditions of the Church, is supposedly socially conservative.
     But, you know what? I'll take it. God knows the Church has gotten all out of whack focusing on maintaining tradition, all the while completely forgetting about the actual mission of Jesus Christ.
     Then, the new Pope chose the name Francis, for St. Francis of Assisi.  For those of you who don't know, St. Francis is AH-MAY-ZING.  Focusing primarily the brotherhood of all living things, he lived in poverty and emphasized love and charity above all.  Oh, and he could talk to animals.  So, this Pope is interested in emphasizing charity, humility, and may or may not teach us to communicate with animals?    Oh my God, after eight years of a Pope who seemed enamored with the decorated garments and gold crusted trappings of Church, it is nice to see a Pope who emphasizes humility.
      I am really hoping this guy is all his initial impression makes him out to be.  If so, we're in for a very different Church PR: a refocus on Christ's mission rather than entrenching tradition; the embodiment of humility, charity and sympathy.
Plus, learning to talk to animals.
Oh my Gosh!  Everyone will want to be Catholic!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Apparently God hates sleeping-in almost as much as my toddler does

     So, I have been looking through the Bible and Catechism for passages that let me get out of attending Mass.  Funny thing: those are not exactly easy to come by.  It seems that, for Catholics, Mass is a pretty big deal.  You have to go to Mass.  You HAVE to go to Mass.  You have to go.  You have to go.  YOU HAVE TO GO.
     That is pretty much all I am able to come up with doctrine-wise.

     And that is really too bad because I really just hate Mass.  God, it is like nails on a chalk board for me.  I just sit there and feel anxious, and guilty, and like I want to run away as fast as I can.  Okay, well those were my pre-Amani days.  Now I pretty much just hold Amani while she screams and tries to climb up on the altar.  Still, not very spiritually fulfilling.

     I do understand the purpose of Mass.  I know that Communion is supposed to be the greatest sacrament in the Catholic Church.  I know that as Catholics, we only believe that we can experience the full revelation of Christ by coming together.  I learned about the paschal mystery as a child, and have told my students about it as a teacher. Honoring the Paschal Mystery; reaffirming our covenant with God; coming together as a group and reflecting on the mission; spending an hour each week reflecting on your own journey as a follower of Christ: all good, and important and...awesome-

     But God Almighty, Mass is dull.

     And I know there are those out there that say Mass is not supposed to be fun: that mass is my demonstration of my dedication to God, and it is the least I can do to remember Jesus' sacrifice.  And I have really only one thing to say to those people: Oh my God, please don't make me go.
     I am not alone in this whole hating Mass thing.  Seventy percent of Catholics don't go to Church regularly.  Doesn't that just seem like something is wrong there?  If seventy percent of your membership does not attend your meetings, shouldn't something be done to engage membership more?   Now, I am fully accept that people are lazy, and are probably not trying hard enough to find the benefits of regular mass attendance.  But should it really be THAT hard?  I mean, it is not like people are against quiet reflection!  Yoga is HUGE in this country, and you have to pay a TON of money for that!  If seventy percent of people who claim to be Catholic- WANT to be Catholic- do not attend Mass regularly, it seems to me that maybe something needs to change in the service.
     I know, I know.  The Catholic Church is not very likely to alter the Mass in any way that changes the fundamental form that has been around for 2,000 years.  There is all kinds of symbolism and meaning in each word and phrase of the Mass that has been perfected over time; it is not going to change just because most people find it dull.  It's a shame though, because I want to be a part of a Catholic community, but I really do not see this Mass thing getting easier.
Plus, you know, if you don't go to Mass you guilty of a mortal sin and are going to hell.  So that's a downer.
If you have any suggestions, please let me know.