A cradle Catholic
This is Part 1 of my personal reflection series My quest – 30 years and counting. You can read my introduction here.
My daughter is a vegan and one of my daughters-in-law has a gluten intolerance. So on holidays and at other family gatherings I always prepare dishes suitable for their respective diets. Like this past Christmas…gluten-free Chex mix that was also vegan, G-free french toast that was not vegan, vegan cookies that were not G-free, G-free cookies that were not vegan, vegan “sausage” soy cheese balls with gluten plus G-free ones with real sausage and dairy cheese. It is a little extra work and they always appreciate it and will sometimes tell me I shouldn’t go to the trouble for them. But the way I see it, I can’t not do it. I’m a mother and making sure my children are fed is my main job. Right out of the womb, you know…that’s what I was made for.
Of course, parents have other responsibilities to their children and one of those is teaching them about reality. Physical reality – don’t play in the street or you could get hurt very, very badly. And spiritual reality – there is/isn’t/may be but we just can’t know if there is a God. I must begin this series on my own spiritual quest at the beginning. As I’ve written about before, my dear parents were devout Roman Catholics and I was baptized about two weeks after my birth and subsequently immersed in the rites and doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church.
My religious upbringing was generally positive and affirming. My mom and dad loved God, they loved the Church, and they loved me. So there was nothing in particular from my youth to emotionally predispose me to reject the faith later on. I do, however, have one powerful memory of lying in bed, bottom bunk, crying tears of great anguish because my teacher Sister Someone-or-Other told me we must love the Blessed Virgin Mary more than we love our own mothers. I loved my mom so much and hardly even knew Mary. How can I possibly love her more? I thought. And I feared that I was either going to have to disobey God or disappoint my mom, and that had me quite distraught. But I was never challenged with this hard teaching again so was able to reject it as a misguided exhortation from an overly zealous nun.
Many who were raised Catholic remain in the church their whole lives. I suspect many more do not. Only one or two (I’m not sure about one) of my seven living siblings still are. As for me, though there were certain doctrines I never quite embraced, up until 1986 I was content enough to call myself a Catholic, consider myself a Christian, and not concern myself with questions about whether the faith my parents raised me in conformed to truth.
So what happened in 1986? Inquiring minds want to know. I’ll give you a hint: I began inquiring. And I’ll tell you more next time.