07 December 2011

Sin-free Five

Last Saturday, Five participated in the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time. This used to be called Confession. Now, no one, not even the Director of Religious Education at our church, believes second-graders have "sins" to confess. But sometime in the recent past, the celebration of Reconciliation and First Holy Communion got lumped together in the same year. I don't really know who makes these decisions, because I'm not Catholic. I was raised as a Presbyterian, but we baptised all the boys in the Captain's faith.

I don't regret that decision. We had moved back to the Captain's childhood home when we started having the boys, and we attended his church because his father is a deacon. It's been special to have all the boys baptised by their grandfather, and it sometimes makes it easier to get them to Mass if Grandpa is on the alter. It's a little weird for me, because even after all these years, the service is still not familiar, but I'm sure I could rectify that through simple memorization. Which, for some reason, I keep resisting.

I think it's one of my "identity" triggers. There are some things I've never wanted to change, because I feel like they make me, you know-ME. When I got married, I didn't change my name. That didn't matter after I had children--I simply became Mrs. D. But every time an adult calls me that, I feel like I'm acting a role. The same goes for church. I wouldn't even say I was a practicing Protestant, but I was confirmed in that church, and I guess I don't want to renounce that part of myself.

I took Four up for communion once, and after he received the Eucharist, the priest offered it to me. I declined, asking only for a blessing. It was the first time Father realized I wasn't Catholic. After Mass, he came up to me and said, "We have to make you one of us!" and I felt like I was being chased by the Borg. I don't want to be assimilated!  But I did seriously consider it once, after Two stood up for Communion and asked, "Why can't you join us?" It's a valid question, perhaps for both the church and me.

I'm an aide in the sixth grade CCD class at our parish. My mother and I were talking about one of the lessons, and I said I didn't necessarily believe in Heaven. She wondered why I was raising the boys in a faith that I questioned. I told her it was because I believe Jesus was the son of God, and we should live according to his teachings. But I don't think we should do that to get an eternal reward, because our lives are happening now. The reward is now. This life is a gift. The people we love are a gift. We should honor that by doing good works today. I'll find out if I'm right, eventually.

This post was supposed to be about Five's day, but I guess I'm still thinking deep thoughts. Unlike Five, who struggled to find anything to share with the priest. We asked him questions, in an effort to help:

"Are you always nice to your brother?"
"Nicer than he is to me!"

"Are you sometimes sassy to your parents?"
"No."

"Do you always try your best in school, and listen to your teacher?"
"Yes. Except for that time when I got in trouble at lunch."

"Do you blame Mom for things?"
"Only when it's her fault."

Five met with the priest, and we watched from a distance as he talked and talked. We didn't ask what he shared, but we were pretty confident he left with a clear conscience. The same one he walked in with, apparently. God bless him.

15 comments:

  1. Julie: You made me nervous, so, in the interest of saving your hair, I have deleted your comments. Now try again, with closed parentheses. :)

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  2. that kid is made of awesome. i remember first confession but i had been in trouble at home enough to know my failings well!

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  3. It's probably a good thing you haven't memorized the mass, because they've just changed it. You'd be lost. Also, I wonder if the reconciliation/communion in the same year is a regional thing, because we don't do it here. Reconciliation comes later. (Which, incidentally, we've always called it. Confession is just colloquial.) I'm glad Five had a good day. :)

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  4. @lora:After we sent Five to the priest, I turned to the Captain and said, "Well, maybe it's a good thing we've given him such high self-esteem?" We'll see.

    @Delia: there were booklets with the new responses, but boy was it a jumbled, garbled mess in that church! I think it's going to take a while for everyone to get it right, so I won't stand out so much!

    Reconciliation used to happen in fourth grade, which is better. Those little stinkers know what they've done wrong ;)

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  5. Oh, five is just adorable. I attended the same church (irregularly, but often enough) for eighteen years before joining this past year when they finally changed the one of their policies that made me cringe the most. There were many times over those 18 years when refusing to join felt like a defense of my self, even though it became a bit absurd after awhile that I hadn't joined. Somehow it was easier to attend a church I didn't belong to-- it gave my cynical self an out, while my believing self got to enjoy the parts of it I liked. I sort of miss that now that I'm a member.

    what in the world did Julie say? ha. Inquiring minds, you know.

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  6. I was going to comment, but now I'm all distracted wondering what Julie wrote.
    What was I going to say? Right, I've always been a Presbyterian and currently belong to a Presbyterian church. I've felt that to convert to another religion or another church that isn't in the Reformed tradition, I'd really need to feel like I could believe in the doctrine of that religion or church. I don't hold with all of the beliefs and doctrines of the Presbyterian church, but since it is my home base, so to speak, somehow I am okay with it.

    And I wish I had Five's conscience!

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  7. God Bless 5; he is concrete as others 'like' him...and you.. much of what your said in this post sounds a bit like a Sagittarian (unlike and Aspergian :)...
    As to the whole religion thing; I wrestle too; believe in God and Jesus; am singing at mom's church for the Christmas season- DO believe in Heaven because it sounds like a wonderful place and final rest for those of us who, mostly, do good in this world. Yet, don't go to organized church. [Not that I think that is a deal breaker] Good for 5 to have made it through confession; as a non- Catholic I have never understood that. Who needs it when we've had matriarchal mamas who ask pointed questions! Gotta love 'em.

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  8. Lol, thanks Megan. My hair thanks you as well.

    Everyone else, I merely mentioned how we ALL love that kid, but then I had to get all jokey and add one of my useless, smart-assed parenthetic statements. And forgot to close the parentheses. Which caused my Virgo brain to nearly explode and potentially light my head on fire, so I had to quickly write ANOTHER comment begging The Lone Woman to save my sorry wee self elf (ya know because she doesn't already have a shit load of work to do).
    Julie
    (Who seriously can't help it.)

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  9. I loved this post :-) I understand about the identity thing. Good for you for sticking to your guns when it is important to you. I wouldn't want to be assimilated either!

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  10. Five is hysterical. I wish I could fast forward 20 years and meet him, I can't imagine what he will be like. Glad to hear he has reconciled. That must have been a fascinating conversation.

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  11. It's Jen not Skip. Too lazy to create my own account.
    Luke is too funny! The twins went with us to Maeve's First Reconciliation. Keira was telling her all the terrible things that she has done to them just in case she forgot:) If I understand your interpretation of why we should follow Jesus's teachings, as it is just for the eternal reward of heaven I am confused. Not sure if I am correct but I always thought we should follow God's word during our present life on earth because we genuinely believe in his word. I always thought of God as being a little more savvy and knowing whether we are following his word just to get into Heaven or that we genuinely love him, believe in his word and have faith that we could live eternally with him forever.
    Love ya, Jen

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  12. @Jen-Hi! Thanks for commenting.You and I are on the same page concerning God's word. That was sort of my point-that we need to do good works now, because Jesus told us/showed us how. I just don't think there's a guarantee of eternal life, so we need to treat this time on Earth like it's the end.

    That Keira is a hoot! It sure is nice to have siblings that will remind you of your failings!

    Love you, too.

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  13. Sometimes, when there are more than a few comments, I wish I used Word Press, which allows one to respond directly after the initial comment. I have to scroll up and down to respond, and it gets confusing! So, here's my not quite direct response:

    @Barb: I have considered the possibility that I'm just being stubborn. And when I was young, I was definitely cynical. But I think I'm just more interested in being open to all practices of faith. So, perhaps it's a committment issue?

    @Karen: I do miss the familiarity of the Presbyterian service. And the awesome choirs. I agree that I would have to believe in the doctrine, but as I've gotten older, I think that all faiths serve one purpose: to teach love. I am partial to the ones that are more encompassing in that regard, but I don't discount the good that all can do.

    @Bobbi, my fellow Sagittarian: Well, I am wrapping up my month of deep thoughts, although I'm sure to continue my silent ruminating. I'm a lot like you, as you know, so I'm not compelled to attend church. I think I'm fairly spiritual, and I carry that within me. But I wanted the boys to have an understanding of God's love, so that they, too, can one day think deep thoughts. How can one do that, if they don't have a starting point?

    I wish I could hear you sing! Two just had his holiday concert, and it was beautiful.

    @Julie: I hesitated deleting the comments, (which weren't useless or jokey) but I felt there would be a restlessness in the Universe if I just let that open parenthesis dangle out there. Plus, your hair is really long now, and I didn't want it to burn off.

    @Deborah: Thanks for dropping by! I find I am much less stubborn as I age (STOP LAUGHING CAPTAIN), about certain topics. But I do like to be clear about my motives. So, it's an identity issue, in that I'm not sure I need to join something to make anyone else happy. It should be because I want to, you know?

    @June: Yes, that Five is a laugh-riot. Remind me to tell you about the cookie-related meltdown at Two's concert. It was, of course, my fault.

    Okay, I'm caught up! I love chatting with you all!

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