C was baptized on Sunday, at three months old.
D was also baptized when he was three months old.
But other than those occassions — and a few token Sundays leading up to them — as well as major religious holidays, Darling Husband and I have not been to church very much in recent years.
We both grew up in Catholic households. We were both baptized, received our First Communion, made our First Pennance (First Confession), and we were both confirmed. Done like dinner.
When I was a tween, I hated that we went to church every Saturday evening — although, believe me, it’s not like I had any kind of social life. My mom always told me I’d be grateful for making all of the sacraments, in case I wanted to marry a nice Catholic boy someday.
Well, I did.
And I was.
We had planned on having a nice church wedding, but when life got out of control — me losing my beloved newspaper reporter job when the paper shut down, our condo sucking all of our savings and forcing us to get a massive loan, etc. — we eloped instead.
We ran off to Las Vegas, alone, and got married in a very unconventional way. In a “religious”-ish ceremony that cost like $30, I think. With “Pastor Bob,” who was most certainly not a Catholic priest.
We loved our wedding — we still talk about how it was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made — but
we knew our parents kept reminding us it “didn’t count” in the Catholic sense.
grudgingly kept our original church wedding date (which was about eight months after the day we *actually* got married), and had a small ceremony there as planned. Just immediate family. No invitations, no reception (just cocktails afterwards at my in-laws’ house).
I refused to wear my wedding dress, as I was a bit haughty about our real wedding “not counting in God’s eyes,” so I wore a Le Chateau dress instead. I wouldn’t carry a bouquet. I didn’t even let anyone take pictures, because I didn’t want anyone to remember that as our wedding.
Our wedding was real. It happened. And I know God was there, in Vegas, with us. Don’t laugh. It’s what I believe.
So needless to say, Darling Husband and I did the church wedding because we felt obligated to do it. We went along with it, though, because we knew we’d want our children baptized in the Catholic church (and you need to be married in one for that to happen).
Fast-forward to two years after we got married (or like a year and a half, if you’re counting the church marriage — this gets confusing, doesn’t it?). D was born, and we scheduled his baptism. They wrote down the “church wedding date” as our wedding date, I bit my tongue and tried not to mention Las Vegas, and it was done.
We only went to church a handful of times as a family — me, Darling Husband, and D — before C came along and it was time to baptize her. By this point, we were living in our House of Dreams in a whole new town, so we found a new church close to our home.
Unlike our previous churches, which were my family’s church and Darling Husband’s family’s church, this was one is all ours. It’s not tied to either family, and it’s something we picked out on our own. I admit, that makes it feel kind of special.
During a prep session before C’s baptism, the priest — who is really nice and even kind of funny — talked to us about what it means to be baptized, and how it’s our responsibility to bring C (and D) to church regularly. He told the group (which included several other couples and their babies) that we need to think hard about if this is something we can commit to, and that this “could change (our) lives.”
I was surprised by how much I thought about his little talk. I hadn’t really considered anything beyond C’s baptism, except making appearances here and there for Easter mass, Christmas, etc. I had just known I wanted my children baptized, because … well, I am? And Darling Husband is? And we’re Catholic? And suddenly that wasn’t seeming like enough of a reason, you know?
However, just because we weren’t going to church didn’t mean we weren’t (trying?) to be (good?) Catholic in our own way. I have prayed every single night since I was very, very young. I always say prayers with D when I’m putting him to bed, and now I do the same with C. We often read bible stories at bedtime, and when D was a baby we read through two entire children’s bibles — little by little each night.
I feel close to God through prayer, but I’ve never felt that connection in a church. I always feel like I’m being watched (by the other parishioners, I mean, not God Himself). I know most of the speaking parts and prayers, but sometimes there are parts I don’t know, and I feel awkward trying to figure out what everyone else is saying. All of the standing and sitting and kneeling cues aren’t something I know unless I watch everyone else. I just spend most of the mass feeling like I’m desperately trying to fit in.
The idea of going to church regularly (i.e. weekly) is foreign to me, at this point. I haven’t gone regularly since I was a teenager, and neither has Darling Husband. We have only ever gone because somebody made us, or guilted us into it (we Catholics are all about the guilt). We have never gone because we wanted to, just on our own.
But I feel like I want us to do this.
For our own little family.
We both grew up going to church weekly. I think our children should grow up that way, too. I don’t want to be the family trying to sneak in a few visits here and there, attending only on holidays out of guilt, skipping catechism classes, and basically just scraping by to get the sacraments (i.e. how my family kind of was once I was confirmed).
I want this to be good for our family. I want to be able to listen to the homily (sermon) and take away bits of wisdom on patience and love and kindness. I want us to be actual members of the church — which, by the way, is about 98% senior citizens, so I think young blood is essential there. I kind of even want to find a way to volunteer somehow!
I don’t know exactly what we’ll do, at this point — or if I can even get Darling Husband on board — but it’s something I have thought about a lot lately.
Are we going back to church? On our own terms? For real? …