Wordpress post from 1st June here.
Sometimes it's hard being Catholic . I find the company difficult sometimes.
Yesterday I was at my husbands neices Confirmation. I was there for most of it . Although I had to leave about 45 minutes in owing to Honors patience having run out. I did get to see Frances being slapped ( ever so lightly) by the Bishop before I left though. So I can confirm that she was indeed confirmed. She is a lovely, elegant little thing and I love her and her two sisters. I do especially love her mother who has been the truest sort of sister to me and is probably one of the noblest and kindest people I know.
That was the good bit.
The less good bit was another encounter with my own less than impressive advance in the area of personal sanctity. To wit, a tendancy towards irritability and judgementalism when I'm at these kind of 'churchy do's'.
I used the time outside feeling frustrated and penitent at my own judgemental attitudes. Why did I think it was my business what that girl in the next pew was wearing? And how much balconette cleavage she had on display was NOTHING to do with me. Ditto the adults outside who were hanging around in their best bib and tucker chatting and having a smoke while waiting for the ceremonies to move on, so that they could progress to the party bit afterwards.
I HATE judgementalism. I am SO disappointed in myself that I slip back into mentally totting up the SQ ( spirituality quotient) of other people.
As if MY OWN was giving Mother Teresa a run for her money.
So I beat my chest and prayed and apologised to God for neglecting the log in my own eye.
And then, in the soiree afterwards I got chatting with someone who gave me a whole new challenge altogether. She was a confirmation catechist. She was a bit sniffy about some element of the practice in that church and told me loftily that in HER church, catechists are VERY closely vetted and have to 'go on a course'. Unlike 'other parishes where they take anybody'.
SHE was clearly not 'anybody'.
I enquired what sort of qualifications were required in her church. The answer to that was that they had to be weekly mass goers. Oh. A basic minimum I would have thought. But hardly a demanding one.
I shared with her some of my own cynicism about confirmation programmes based on reports of the children of friends who have been on them, I take a dim view of the 'weekend away' which often turns out to be a tempting challenge to some wags to get up to high jinks. Which include smuggling in fags and booze and letting off fireworks in the dormitory corridors.
And then there are the 'discussion points' which apparently have included Jesus's s*xuality ( "Was Jesus a s*xual person?") a topic which I suppose grabs the attention of even the most feckless youth, which perhaps is the idea.
Another one was the showing of a video last year about a boy who wears make up to school and is teased for it by his peers. The discussion afterwards centered, I am told, on the importance of not being judgemental, and issues around homophobic attitudes and why we shouldn't hold them .
My friend the catechist thought this perfectly marvellous, citing the urgent need to combat homophobia and to teach the youngsters about how awful it is.
I don't care for discrimination against any group of people so we were approaching common ground here. Except I feel that it's a missed opportunity not to discuss the churches much fuller and more coherent teaching on the dignity of every human person. To boil it down instead to a discussion on homophobia, which, quite frankly, the local authority probably explains much better in their leaflet on homophobic bullying, seemed like a wasted opportunity in my view.
I mean, if we're going to talk about person phobia, why the narrow focus? How about ugly phobia? Fat phobia? Poverty phobia? Or slow witted phobia? Because in my opinion, if you are unfortunate enough to be poor, unattractive and a bit of a dim bulb, you don't have too much going for you in the way of spokespersons, role models or fashionable causes. In fact, you are probably amongst the most discriminated against people on the face of the earth.
And hey! what has all this got to do with the sacrament of confirmation anyway?
But I digress.
My point was that I was starting to take a dim veiw of the catechist. A view that wasn't helped much by her trumpeting of herself as being a class act catechist and her sniffiness at those parishes who 'just let anybody do it'. And the other little matter of her enthusiasm for a medium on the telly who contacts those ' on the other side'. She got tickets for a big show at the Gaumont for her and her husband because this medium definately has 'the gift'
I was starting to get judgemental again. My bad.
And then she said this
" The biggest problem our church has got at the moment are the Africans"
"I'm sorry...the Africans? How?"
"Because they have a different culture"
"But the catholic church is a universal church"
"Yes, but most of them also go to a Pentecostal church, and Pentecostals aren't Christians"
"Oh, they are. they most definately are Christians"
"No they aren't. I know them. They are in my church. Pentecostals don't believe in the Holy Spirit"
"But they certainly do! That's why they call themselves 'Pentecostal' "
"Oh...yes, i meant the Trinity, they don't believe in the Trinity"
"Are you talking about Jehovahs witnesses?"
"No. Definitely Pentecostals. They just want to go off and praise the Lord" And she said this with a 'praise' hand action and a little mocking roll of the eyes.
*Sigh* I was getting all judgemental again. And this time I was loftily being judgemental of HER judgementalism.
And all this on the back of my not very much earlier prayers apologising to God for my bad attitude.
Sometimes I find myself so annoying.