The Green Room + LIFE

Catholicism

Part 1 is here.

At some point that summer I decided to do some reading about Catholicism. Gregory hadn’t shown any signs of wavering on religion so far. Before him, I had just expected whatever man I’d marry would change for me - obviously I’d be the more religious in our relationship and it would be more important to me. Yet now I was browsing through books online, trying to find one that presented the beliefs of Catholicism and Protestantism impartially, without trying to convince you that one was right or wrong. I could make my own decision about that, thank you very much.

I flew through the books, beginning to make some sense of Catholic teachings. I loved the history and tradition of the Church, so that was good. They didn’t actually pray to saints, they just asked them to pray for them, just like I did with the women in my Bible study group, so I was okay with that. There were still many things that were completely unpalatable, though. I told Greg that I might be able to become Catholic. Sometimes I said that. Sometimes I said there was no way I could ever do something so ridiculous. I prayed about this situation constantly. I had never prayed so hard in my life. If only God would give me some guidance on this one way or the other! But He remained silent.

One of the motivations behind my intensity was that I was so ready to marry Gregory. I didn’t really acknowledge this, though I think my mother knew it. I figured I had to become Catholic before we could get married or the marriage wouldn’t count.

Luckily, I was wrong. We got engaged the following May and married that August. Of course the priests in Philadelphia wouldn’t hear of an engagement lasting less than six months, but things are more flexible in the rural Midwest. In my hometown, my family’s church is right next door to the Catholic church, and the preacher and priest are actually good friends. Both pastors were happy to co-officiate our wedding.

The marriage preparation in both churches consisted of filling out a survey and going in to talk to the pastor. We were relieved that was all there was to it. After starting the pill two months before, I nervously waited for the priest to bring up contraception. But he only asked a vague question about whether we’d discussed how we would plan our family, and so we glided right past the issue.

So we got married and lived happily ever after. Except we still hadn’t resolved the question of where we would go to church. So I guess it was “happily ever after except on Sunday mornings, an hour of which one of us was quite unhappy.”

We were determined to be united in our faith, for the sake of our future children. I had spoken to several people about the issue, and was quite disappointed in the responses. Even the three different preachers I talked to all seemed to think it was just fine for parents to go to two different churches. This was not acceptable to us.

I kept praying. Still no response.

We church-shopped. We went to four different Catholic churches and three different Protestant churches. Nothing clicked. I began dreading stepping foot inside the Catholic churches - all I could see were these glaring differences. "Why don't people talk to each other beforehand? They must not be a caring community." "How can they sing One Bread, One Body when they don't let everyone take communion? That's so hypocritical!" "I might be okay with choosing to go somewhere where I'm not allowed to take communion, but I can't stand the thought of anyone denying it to my mother!"

It was draining. Finally I declared that I was going to take one of those classes on becoming Catholic, at the parish that we should belong to based on where we lived.

Gregory didn’t want me to. He knew that I didn’t actually want to become Catholic and I was saying this out of exhaustion and frustration. He discouraged me and offered to check out still more churches. But I was tired of hopping from church to church. And they only offered the classes starting in the fall each year – I couldn’t imagine going for another full year without having come to any sort of conclusions. So I decided to take the RCIA class, with Greg accompanying me each week as my sponsor. If I didn’t want to become Catholic by the time Easter rolled around, that was fine – I just wouldn’t. At least we’d know.

Part 3 is here.

God, HAPPY, and more:

Catholicism + LIFE