By: Mia Bencivenga
I, like many other children, was raised Catholic.
For those of you who are not familiar with exactly what that entails, please allow me to sum up our important sacraments.
Shortly after your birth, a priest dunks your head into holy water, thereby cleansing yourself of the “original sin” we are all born with, because Eve had a little bit of an attitude problem with God and went ahead and ate some forbidden fruit. This is called “Baptism.”
The second major sacrament is “Reconciliation.” This is when, at the ripe old age of seven or eight, you are taught to confess your sins to a priest in a dark room towards the back of the church. These sins may include drinking Mountain Dew before bedtime, giving your little sister a wet willy, lying about shaving your cat’s tail with your fathers Schick razor, or any other types of equally heinous crimes.
Then, we have the cream of the crop, the big sha-bang of Catholicism, also known as your “First Communion.” This takes place after Reconciliation, because your prepubescent soul must be cleansed of all sinful tomfoolery before eating the body and blood of Christ. Now, you may be a little wary of the strangely cannibalistic turn this has taken, but fear not. The children are merely consuming bread and wine which are blessed to be made into Jesus’ body and blood, although thankfully, they still just taste like stale wafers and cheap wine.
A child prepares months for this big moment, and it is a very formal occasion; little girls wear white gowns and veils, and boys wear formal suits…Now, the attire itself may have other implications, but seeing as we don’t have time to do a Freudian analysis of this particular sacrament, I say we carry on.
Finally, the last right of passage that one experiences when growing up Catholic is that of “Confirmation.” This is undoubtedly the most intimidating of all of the sacraments, because at this point, you are about fourteen, and are aware that this is all a little freaky. This sacrament is such a big deal that you have to go to Sunday school to prepare and study for it. You also attend retreats with your Sunday school class, and pick out a saint that you want to be named after.
Also, supposedly, during your confirmation, the holy spirit touches your forehead with tongues of flame. Not to mention that a bishop is there to quiz you, look intimidatingly at you with his giant hat, and remind you that once you are confirmed, your ass is Catholic for life. Or you know, until you get divorced/fall in love with a member of the same sex.
I know what some of you must be thinking, that I’m being disrespectful to the Catholic Church for no good reason.
Well, my dear friends, please forgive me if you think my opinions are so misbegotten, but I think that I have a pretty damn good reason for feeling the way I do.
The Catholic Church, itself, shows no respect to anyone that is outside of the Catholic Church, so why on earth should I go out of my way to polite? Now, I’m not saying anything bad against Catholics, considering I technically am one, was raised one, and the fact that most of my family is Catholic; but rather, I am not pleased with the way the Church and those who run it conduct themselves...especially the Pope.
Just a few days ago, the Pope declared that gay marriage was a direct threat to the survival of humanity. A few years back, he likened saving the sanctity of heterosexual marriage to the saving of our rain forests. That’s right folks, not only are gays a threat to the survival of the human race, they also have a personal vendetta against trees.
This amuses me. The Catholic Church claims to be trying to protect our souls and our morals as a society…But what about the many abuse scandals that have come forward throughout the years, many of which the Church either refuses to acknowledge publicly, or has flat out denied? If there would be any legitimate threat our children’s safety, it’s not coming from homosexuals. It’s from those who are sexually repressed, with high authority, and are allowed a significant amount of alone time with our children.
I turn on the television, and see glossy, expensive, well-acted, commercials that are trying to get Catholics to “come home” to their church…And yet Jesus’ principles of unconditional love, tolerance, and charity go unfulfilled. Abused children must suffer in silence. Gay catholic members of the church must hide their sexuality. And children at the age of seven, are taught to confess their sins to a priest, because even when you are a child, everyone is telling you that you are a sinner. Even bad thoughts can be sins, and frankly, living through that and seeing other children go through the same thing is simply infuriating. And I think it needs to stop.
The fact of the matter is, the Catholic Church refuses to move forward in time. They refuse to accept that things are different now. Repression and guilt don’t stop people from making bad decisions. Instead, this way of thinking can lead them down a path of self-destruction.
If the church wants to survive and thrive, then they need to reevaluate their goals and their message. It seems to me, my friends, that it isn’t the sheep that have gone astray. Rather, I think it’s the shepherd that needs to find his way back to his flock. And until then, we sheep are just going to do our own thing, and perhaps, if we really want to stick it to the shepherd, convert to Protestantism. But that’s for a whole other blog.
Do you agree that the Catholic Church needs to move forward into the 21st century? Tweet Mia your thoughts @miasminirants.
twoday magazine wants to know: Were you raised Catholic? What was your experience like? Have you strayed from the Church or do you find it to be a place of comfort? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page!