Saturday, July 14, 2007

a history lover ponders this future

"Liberal Catholics in Turmoil Over Return of Latin Mass"

I love to know about history. Really, I like to know why things are the way they are and inevitably going back far enough in history and comparing different parts of the world's experiences gives you some reasonable answer.

I don't know a ton about Vatican II or why it was a good or bad idea. I have heard over the years from my family that it was when the church tried to be modern and a lot of the stalwart traditions of the Catholic mass were changed. I've been to a traditional mass in Latin. It was much more enjoyable than the ones in English. I even like the ones in Italian or Spanish. Any language where I understand less makes something very familiar to me seem more interesting. I'm not much for the priests' sermons. Most of them really do play on the you-must-feel-guilty-and-repent -- and the few that are worthwhile seem to be from priests who are in demand and don't stay long as a single parish.

I'm a bad Catholic. My family and my husband's family are very good Catholics. They go to mass, they pray, they believe (really) in the holy trinity, they think that everyone has the right to practice their own religion (or none), they believe in God, and the Mexican side even confess regularly. I'm my cousin's daughter's godmother. I've been to mass about 10 times in the last two years. I believe that having a church around the corner from my apartment that I've been to twice gives me no excuse for not going. It's right there.

I'm a bad Catholic because I'm a hypocrite.

I, like most humans, enjoy a routine and therefore find something 'safe' in tradition. I like the idea of mass. I like the idea of reading the bible and cross referencing it with other historical documents. I have a problem with the church. Well, truthfully I have a problem with being told what to think about big concepts. I completely disagree, like most Catholics, that the bible should be taken literally. I'm not a fundamentalist and if anyone wants to believe that the men of the Old Testament really lived to 900 years, then go ahead. I'll still think you're a bit nuts and you'll still think I'm a harlot. I, therefore, think that some of what got translated into English is probably a bit off and if it's not. I don't want to have anything to do with a Latin mass that states there's anything wrong with Jews or being of the Jewish faith. I'll let those who know argue that point out (see the article's main position of why "Liberal Catholics" are having a problem with the conservative Pope's decision to allow Latin mass again.)

I'll tell you what I do know: I'm a hypocrite. I really cringe inside every time I think about it. I think the church is antiquated and an interesting political machine in the middle ages (my favorite time in history). I don't go to mass, I don't confess regularly, I actively disagree with statements by the Pope (well this one more than the last, John Paul II was a great people person so I would at least listen), and I have a very hard time with the concept of the holy trinity and immaculate conception. So i don't have faith, because that's what faith is. It's believing in something you can't prove. Or at least that's my take on what faith is.

But I do believe in god. Maybe it's for fear of not believing and then when I die I'll be wrong. Or that believing in it makes me feel less like a speck on the planet which is barely a spec in the known universe. But I want my children to be baptized in a Catholic church. I want them to go to holy communion and get their confirmation. This is where I'm a hypocrite and a traditionalist. I don't want to have much to do with the church, yet I'm getting married in it in two weeks. I don't feel that our civil wedding last year has the same authority or validity as the church wedding will in two weeks. I love my husband and so getting married twice is okay even if the planning is driving me up a wall.

Thing is I want the church wedding. I want my children to go to mass and learn about our families' religion. And yet I want to have nothing to do with it on a daily basis. Hardly the model for any child who I expect to take it seriously. And that's the thing about it for me. I don't expect them to take it all in very seriously. I want them to know what religious traditions they come from. If they want to go and convert to another religion, then we can figure that out when it comes up. I'm a huge fan of Buddhism. We visited a Buddhist temple in Seoul and watched my Thai friend do prayers. She was welcome because she is Buddhist even if she isn't a Korean Buddhist. So not anyone can participate, plus it's really complicated motion if you don't know what they're doing. And that made me think: Do Catholics let in anyone? Not always.

I agree with the Church of England and Lutherans on this point. Invite everyone, God is a benevolent entity, and we're not too sure about the Pope making decisions for us all. I even think that the Muslims make more sense than the Catholics sometimes. But like every religion, it depends on who you're talking to and what their take on the 'party line' is. I might just know some level-headed people to discuss these things with...

I don't even know what to make of this 'perfidis ludaeis'. Even if it "only" means 'anti-faith' that's still pretty insulting. So they have a different faith than Catholics, does that mean that Jewish faith isn't valid? This may be a good time to have not failed out of Latin classes. Maybe I'd understand the context in which those two words showed up. More importantly, does anyone think that the Jews feel that Catholics have a more valid religion than they do? No, of course now. So why would it work the other way around. Catholics and Jews are like two fighting brothers. We're not going to agree, let's just not try to piss each other off.

I was in Salt Lake City last year. I think that Mormons are a little odd. I, however, don't think my family's religion is better or worse than theirs. And I believe that I would find talking to a Mormon about their practices and faith would be terribly interesting. I'll bet my finding them odd is because I don't understand. Or maybe not. I've been watching "Big Love" to get some insight and I know it's just drama.

To finish this explanation: I wanted to be Jewish around the time I was 13. It's fairly easy to figure out why, that's when all my Jewish classmates were having bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah. Who doesn't want a party the size of a wedding when you're 13? I went to two temples and sat through two services. I was impressed. I liked that most of it was in Hebrew and my friends were up there trying to remember their 'lines.' I should have avoided the bagel with lox at that time. I didn't become a fan of that until MUCH later.

There was something vaguely familiar about Judiasm and it took me a little moment before I realized their Torahs are the Old Testament. Plus their torahs are old and historic artifacts, which I love. And I have a problem with believing some dude was the son of god, too. So I felt a bond there. I'm just not waiting for the messiah to come. Maybe he's already showed up, maybe they have come and gone many times, or maybe it's not coming. I don't know and more importantly I don't care, so I'm not going to engage anyone in conversation about it. I'll just piss someone off by my own ignorance and that's hardly the way to have a day.

No matter what's going on, I'm a hypocrite and trying to deal with that. Really figure out why I want all these important moments to be validated by an entity I claim I don't respect. If my grandparents were still alive (and I wish they were most days) they would probably be disappointed in me. Still love and accept me but be disappointed that I don't share their beliefs which were really so very important to them. I think they'd like my husband though, he's a much better Catholic than I am.

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