On my way to the train this morning, The Foliage texted me that Pope Benedict XVI had resigned. And oh man. The shock! THE GLEE!!
I went to Catholic school for 9 years, from kindergarten through 8th grade. I've talked to other people who did the same, who remember lots of abstinence-only and homophobic education. Like...a LOT. But I don't remember ANYthing like that. I remember being raised by my parents to ask questions and figure out what things meant to ME and the faculty/clergy being in full support of that. And I never heard anything about premarital sex or gayness at school. Not once. Or if I did I had no idea what was being discussed and just zoned out. What I was taught, over and over, every single day, was to be kind and accepting and to give 1000% of myself to others. And to do lots of art projects to decorate the gymnasium for all-school-mass.
I can make pretty much any seasonal decor out of construction paper and styrofoam cups. Just FYI.
I don't even remember hearing anything about birth control or AIDS during homilies on Sundays. Children are a blessing? Yeah, that one happened. But in the vein of, "Include your kids in stuff! Church is for everyone, even if you're too little to really get it yet! We're gonna have doughnuts in like half an hour and then send your tiny sugar-wracked body home with your parents!" Not in the "HAVE ALL THE BABIES ALL THE TIME" sense. But maybe I accidentally missed the point.
But lately? Every single homily seems to be ANGRY or SCOLDY or PREEMPTIVELY ANNOYED. Or asking for money (those ones, granted, happened when I was growing up too). Things have just felt...different. Unfamiliar. Instead of feeling renewed and proud of going to church, I left glad that I'd gotten to take Communion but annoyed that I wasted the other 55 minutes of prime Sunday time.
So, lately, I haven't gone.
I went through a lot of BS to make sure I could get married in a Catholic church, with a full mass. We found an AWESOME priest, who we love and still visit as often as possible. He reminds me so much of my priest from growing up in Catholic school. Father Don. He was THE MAN. (I assume he still is but I haven't seen him in over 10 years.) The priest who married me, Father Dillingham, has so many similar qualities.
Those are the guys who MAKE the faith for me. I have my relationship with God, but priests like them make me want to keep showing up to the building every week. They are what I imagine Pope John Paul II was. I really, really miss the Pope John Paul II days. Pope Benedict XVI has just always been so...out of touch. Exclusive. Pro-scolding.
So here's to you, conclave! I'm not THREATENING to leave if you choose someone lame, but I mean. I've been trying to prepare for my favorite liturgical season, Lent, this year, but have just felt really mopey and uninterested. And I feel super jazzed about this opportunity we have. I just want my church back. Please don't blow it.