Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Silliness - mood buttons 6

In the spirit of silliness, here's another quick excerpt from my memoir to go along with the last of the mood buttons.

I’ve always loved the formality of what I describe as super organized religions, like Catholicism and the Episcopalians. There’s something about their beautiful ritualistic ceremonies that makes me feel very connected to a higher power. Several of my friends over the years have been Catholic and I was always intrigued by the concept of confession.

While living in Chicago, I actually snuck into the box and confessed once. Right before I hit rock bottom during my cancer, I was riding a bus home from work one day when we passed an enormous Catholic church. I have no idea what compelled me but I jumped off the bus at the next corner and went into the church. I’d never been to confession before, but I saw lots of people confess in the movies, so when I saw someone coming out of what resembled the confession booth in the movies, I scooted in.

The priest quickly observed that I didn’t know the mechanics of confession and was therefore probably not Catholic. I think I said something like, “Look, I’m not one of you, but I have a really big problem and I need someone to listen. Are you in?” I thought for certain he was going to throw me out, but instead he was very kind and allowed me to bare my soul for quite a while. Then he told me to do a few things I didn’t really understand, and told me to “go with God.” I didn’t quite know where I was supposed to go with him, but then I figured out that was just the priest’s way of getting rid of me.

When I left, I put a lot of money in the offering thingy hoping God wouldn’t strike me dead for attempting to impersonate a Catholic just to be absolved of my numerous sins. I didn’t get hit by a bus on the way home, but it did take a long time to resolve my problems. Maybe that was her punishment.

If hell freezes over and I ever get married, my ideal wedding would take place in a cathedral type church. They’re vast and awe inspiring, but they also feel very intimate and spiritual. I don’t envision hundreds of guests. In fact, if it’s just me, the groom, an official and a witness, that would be absolutely fine. And as soon as the official says “you may kiss the bride,” I would like for a choir or soloist to sing “Ave Maria”. I know the song is associated with all things Catholic, but it’s one of my favorites and always evokes such a sense of peace and serenity. Of course, my mother would lobby for a rousing rendition of the “Hallelujah Chorus” but she doesn’t get a vote on this one.

Hope you enjoyed the buttons!


Demon Hunter said...

I love Ava Maria---and I'm not Catholic. It's okay for a priest to hear your confession. God doesn't care about the namebrand, just whether you believe or not. :*)

sex scenes at starbucks said...

I just started attending an Episcopal church and I love the ritual. People bow their heads as the cross passes and we take communion every Sunday. I like to think of all the millions of people who have worshiped just that way for the past several centuries. It's a great comfort.

The Anti-Wife said...

I like God. She's very forgiving and that's been a plus in my life.

I find rituals very calming and inclusive. They help keep me grounded when things are moving to the hectic side of the scale.

WriterKat said...

I'm envisioning you in a bridal dress covered with mood buttons. :-)

I am a converted Catholic & had my 1st confession in my late 20's. I'm not so evil a person so just had the normal things to report. After I finished the laundry list, the priest asked me "Is that all?!?" I wanted to ask, do you want me to report the murder or something?

The Anti-Wife said...

Love the idea for the dress! I envision a priest asking me more like, "How much longer is this going to take?" rather than "Is that all?"

Mary Witzl said...

I think cathedrals are lovely and they are certainly awe-inspiring, but I like homey little churches too that reek of cheap wood and mothballs. Perhaps it's the hick in me, but I feel less of an interloper in those homey little churches. I love the music there too, but I also love Episcopal hymns.

As for confession, though, I'll bet that the majority of non-Catholics yearn to do this. I know I do, but I've never had the guts. Some day maybe I'll get a Catholic to run me through the whole process. Good for you for doing this cold -- I'm very impressed!

Merry Monteleone said...

Oh, my goodness, AW, you have the best timing!!! My son just made his first Reconciliation (the big fancy Catholic term for confession) on Saturday... I'm a lifelong Catholic and I almost never go to confession... our church doesn't even have confessionals, it has to be face to face, and frankly, I don't want to look at a priest while I'm telling him what an ass I am. I grew up in a big ornate lovely church, with confessionals, and I miss it.

A good priest will hear anyone's confession - how could a priest turn someone away just because they're not Catholic? They just don't consider it a Sacrament for non-Catholics, which I'm sure is fine with non -Catholics.

It was fun watching my son go in the line, and introducing him to the priest, and waiting outside for him... he reminded me after that I'm not allowed to ask him what his sins are, which I thought was pretty funny, and fairly bright for a seven year old. Hopefully none of the little hooligans will let him in on our old tricks - when I was in grade school, we had a standard rule: whatever your confession is, always include one lie - that one covers the lie of omission for all the stuff you didn't have the nerve to tell a priest... Leave it to a kid to think they can fool God!

The Anti-Wife said...

I also love the little intimate churches. They have a lovely intimate feeling, but there's something about the huge ones that is awe inspiring.

I figure one confession per non-Catholic is about right. I'm sure that priest needed a couple bottles of holy wine after talking to me.

The Anti-Wife said...

Good for your son. Hope he learns all the proper procedures for keeping those priests in line.

So it wasn't a sacrament when I confessed? Was it more like a sacrilege?

Stephen Parrish said...

I was raised Catholic and briefly attended Catholic grade school. The nuns preparing us for our first confession taught us to divide our sins between the "venial" and the "mortal." The former are minor sins, easily forgiven. The latter are major sins that will send you to Hell if you don't confess them.

I composed a list of sins that included lying to my brother. Of course, I lied to my brother routinely back then, but I figured that by confessing to one instance, and classifying it as mortal, I would be absolved of my wickedness.

I explained all this to the Priest-in-the-Box who laughed out loud and told me to recite ten "Hail Marys." My soul was clean.

Later, at home, my brother (who had endured the ritual a year earlier) asked me whether I had mentioned him in my first confession. I said no way.

My soul was dirty again.

Josephine Damian said...

AW, read your earlier posts about how quickly you wrote that memoir - you were on fire!

Have you considered an online or live workshop class in memoir writing? How about reading some best-selling memoirs to see how it's done?

I wonder how many of us fiction writing bloggers are planning a memoir as well?

Bernita said...

I collect those " a few...short of..."
Hadn't heard the clowns/circus one.
I love it.

The Anti-Wife said...

If lying is a sin I'll see you in hell. Sometimes just saying "I'm Fine" when someone asks how you are is a lie. And, oh the excuses for not having my homework done!

The Anti-Wife said...

I've often thought of taking some classes. I'm exploring some online ones now but haven't decided whether to look at fiction or non.

Always glad to contribute.

Ello said...

Hey my daughter is going to have her first reconciliation in a few weeks! And isn't it terrible of me to tell her that I haven't gone to confession in years? Like Merry, we don't have confessionals and everything is face to face with a small screen that doesn't cover anything. I keep meaning to go to confession up in NY at my parents church cause they have the good old fashioned confessionals!

I think you have to be catholic to get married in a Catholic church but there are some beautiful cathedrals out there that aren't Catholic (Here in DC the Washington Cathedral is huge and beautiful and not Catholic!). The biggest problem with Catholic weddings is how long they are and how many times you have to stand and kneel!

But loved the story!

The Anti-Wife said...

If you do confession face to face, does the priest ever blush?

Merry Monteleone said...

You actually can be married in a Catholic church if you're not Catholic, though it's largely up to the Parish priest (probably depending on availability and donation). If neither party is Catholic, it can't be a Sacrament, but if one of the parties is Catholic and the couple's gone through the pre-cana(I don't remember the spelling) they can be married in a Catholic church by a priest legally.... the thing is, the non-Catholic party is not held to any of the vows by the Catholic church - they can't be, they're not Catholic... my husband loves this loophole, he's Lutheran. He also lied to the priest at our meeting before baptising our oldest... which about made me fall over... I think I actually stuttered, and then screamed, "You can't lie to a priest!!!" my husband calmly replied, "I'm not Catholic. To me he's just some guy with a funny collar."

Good thing it was an older, Irish priest with a great sense of humor.

Stephen, I went straight through Catholic school, even an all girls' Catholic High School... I kind of miss the nunny bunnies (a term coined during our sarcastic high school years which can be very misleading to non-catholics who actually think they're cute).

My kids have never met a real nun, I think they're under the impression the species died out hundreds of years ago.

wordtryst said...

I too love Ave Maria. I've got three recorded versions - two by Pavarotti (one Bach, one Schubert) and the Stevie Wonder version. They never fail to transport me.

I was raised Catholic, went to Catholic schools exclusively, but have 'fallen away'. I have a friend who loves the Catholic experience, though. She calls it 'great theatre'.

Loved those buttons!