As many of you know, Lila goes to a Catholic school. We made that decision basically because I went to Catholic school and the public school option for where we lived was not a very good one academically. Well this year (2nd grade) Lila is making her first communion. Along with that, she has to make her first penance (or confession for those of you not hip to the Catholic lingo). So for 14 weeks, every Sunday, she has to go to classes to learn about making her first penance and communion. One of the requirements is that she go to mass every Sunday during this time. This means that every Sunday, I have to go to mass during this time.
I am not what you would call a practicing Catholic. Honestly, I don't think I believe in God at all. So taking her to mass every Sunday is kind of a stretch for me. Part of me loves the pageantry of it. I love the big open church, the stained glass windows, the priest supposedly turning a cracker into the body of Christ. It reminds me of childhood days spent going to church with my class during the school day. But I spend a lot of my time in church sitting there wondering how anyone really believes this stuff. And then the Catholic guilt kicks in and I find that I feel somewhat lost in that I don't have a set of beliefs to get me through those tougher times.
Lila, as far as I can tell, believes in God and Jesus and the Virgin Mary and all of that. But honestly it isn't something we ever talk about. It just never comes up. Even with her making her first communion and having to go to classes on Sundays, she has never once come to me to discuss anything that she is learning about religiously. So I have no idea if she knows what the 10 commandments are or if she feels that she is a sinner.
I remember being very upset to learn that we are all born with original sin on our souls. That we are marked as sinners before we even learn to speak. This is one of the beliefs of the church that I have a real problem with. My daughter doesn't know enough to sin. I really have no idea what she is going to tell the priest when she goes into that little box for the first time. I imagine that she will tell him that she got sassy with me once or twice or that she told a little lie. I think she may do what I did and make some stuff up just to have something to talk about while she is in there.
I often feel that I am supposed to be bringing up God and Jesus to her. Like there are times when I could use them to my advantage. Just like the Elf on the Shelf, I could threaten her with "God is watching you" when she misbehaves and perhaps that would make her stop whatever annoying behavior she is doing at that time. But I don't believe in God enough to threaten her with him.
I just read an article over at Bluntmoms.com (you can read it here) where the writer confesses to being a closet atheist and that was what got me thinking about my beliefs. I just don't know what I believe. I don't know that I ever really did believe everything that they taught me in Catholic school. I think I always doubted. I always asked questions about the validity of the Bible and the possibilities of redemption. I was no doubt influenced by my parents' lax attitude toward the church and their lack of faith.
I just hope that Lila believes something. Because I envy people who have that faith that can carry them through tough times. I wish I had something like that. Some belief in a higher power that makes sense of the awfulness that happens in life. I honestly hope that she feels some sense of connection to God so that she has the benefit of faith in her heart and for her soul.