Sunday, October 10, 2010

Losing my religion...part 2

It wasn't until mid-September that RCIA began again.  Over the course of the summer, Bobby and I had big plans to make it to church every Sunday (ok, more like I had big plans to drag him with me...but still).  Sadly, we always found something else to do and, though we started off strong going every week, by July it had dwindled down and we skipped the entire month of August so my quest for faith hadn't gotten very far when I was back in the saddle to decide if Catholicism was really it for me.

Now, one thing I forgot to mention in my last post was that at our first meeting back in May, they asked us to think about someone that we would want to be our sponsor through our religious journey.  Heather picked her husband and Lizzie was thinking about her mom, but I wasn't sure who I wanted to share that with.  I didn't feel like Bobby would take it seriously if I asked him to come with me to the meetings because I still don't feel comfortable talking about that stuff with him (and please don't take offense to that, if you're reading this).  I need someone who will take it seriously and understand why I have so many I haven't figured that part out yet.

Anyway, back to where this is all going...We had our first meeting back in mid-September and there were 3 new people going through the process with us.  It made me feel a little better and less like we were the center of attention, but I still wasn't in it for me.  It wasn't until this past week, when I picked my sister up to head to the church that it really hit me.  On our way up, Heather and I talked about why we were still skeptical of the whole thing.  It's great to know that I have her to go through the whole process with because there's no one who could understand my feelings about it better than my sister, who is starting at the exact same level as me.  We talked about how it's hard to follow something that doesn't have concrete evidence and we talked about how we're constantly looking for signs from something to let us know that there really is something for us to believe in...and then we got to class.

This week's class was about the different terms that we'd encounter and what everything meant.  We discussed the 4 stages of RCIA (pre-catechumenate, catechumenate, purification and enlightenment, mystagogy) and the different rites that we'll go through in each stage.  We discussed different common terms (Advent, Liturgical year, and triduum) and learned a little bit more about the process as a whole.  By the end of the night, I was feeling a little more connected and felt better on our drive home....and then the shocker of all shockers (and you'll probably find this incredibly cheesy but...) the signs began flying in.

Every day this week, since Heather and I had that conversation, I have encountered some type of sign...maybe they're just coincidences, but they're pretty freaky if you think about it.

  • Tuesday morning: Rachel's challenge assembly - Rachel Scott was the first person shot at Columbine in 1999.  The speaker talked about how Rachel knew that she was going to die young and had written an essay six weeks prior to the shootings about her codes of life and how she thought that if we could be compassionate and kind to just one person every day, that we'd start a chain reaction.  Two weeks after her death, a man from the other side of the country called up her father and explained how he was having reoccurring dreams of Rachel's eyes crying onto hollow ground and flowers sprouting up.  A week later, Mr. Scott was able to pick up Rachel's backpack from police evidence and found her last journal....on the very last page was a drawing that one of Rachel's teachers says she made a mere 20 minutes before the shootings of her eyes crying onto ground with a single rose sprouting appeared that her teardrops were turning into blood drops as they reached the flower....there were 13 of them, the number of people killed that day.
  • Tuesday after RCIA: I got home around 9:30 and Bobby and I watched the episode of Glee that had aired at 8 but we dvr-ed....this week's episode was all about religion and faith.  I immediately text messaged my sister and got a chill.
  • Wednesday night: Bobby and I hung out on the couch watching Modern Family.  In this week's episode, Manny and Gloria want to go to church but Jay would rather go play they're arguing about it and Jay says that God doesn't matter, an earthquake yes, it's a little bizarre that 2 tv shows talked about religion this week....but more bizarre that neither are on the same network
  • Thursday morning:  As I'm driving up 23, I notice a rainbow in the I get closer to Kinnelon, the rainbow gets brighter and I notice that it's a full and complete arch right over the town....and there's another one next to it.
Now, these things might not seem like much...but I definitely see these as signs.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

That's me in the corner...losing my religion

Religion isn't something that I really talk about much and it's not something that I've really opened up about with Bobby, but lately it's been on my mind a lot.  In addition to our experience at God's Plan for a Joy-Filled Marriage, RCIA has begun.  For those of you who don't know, RCIA stands for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.  Basically, because I was not raised with a religion, I'm going through the process of becoming Catholic so that we can get married in the least, that was the initial reason.

Bobby's family is pretty religious, not super jesus freaks, but they attend church regularly and take pride in their faith and when we first started dating I was fascinated by it.  All three children went to catholic school their whole lives (minus a brief stint in public middle school for Lizzie) and Mama O was almost a nun, so you could imagine how radically different this was for me to come into....having only gone to church a handful of times and never really learned anything about any religion (aside from my Mystical Encounters class at 'Berg where I learned a brief snippet of several).

A year ago, when my sister started her second trimester of pregnancy, she explained to me how she wanted to find God...and I made fun of her for it.  She wanted to have the same feelings of faith and spirituality that her husband had but didn't know where to start.  She began reading up on different religions and wanted to attend services at different churches to get a feel for things, but I think she was too afraid to go it alone.  It wasn't until I really knew that marriage was on the horizon and I had spent more time with the Olson's that I felt comfortable enough to consider my own faith and spirituality.  I knew that I believed in some higher being, I just didn't know what or who and I knew that organized religion in general angered me because I wanted hard evidence to form my beliefs so I decided to look into Catholicism and take the leap with my sister.

I had attended Easter mass with the Olsons and Kate had just made confirmation and I felt very comfortable in their church.  I can remember when I was in middle school and all of my friends were going to church, I wanted to know what it was all about so I would go too and I felt so uncomfortable at mass, like I was being judged by everyone around because I wasn't getting up to receive the eucharist and because I didn't recite the Lord's prayer....I didn't get that feeling at St. E's so that was the first place I turned to on my quest to find faith.

I called up the Director of Faith Formation and explained my situation.  He suggested Heather and I go to a get-to-know-you meeting for RCIA, so we did and, to be perfectly honest, I still wasn't signing on for myself, but because I knew the Olsons wanted us to get married by a priest and I wanted to please them.  When we went to the get-together it was just Heather, Lizzie (for whatever reason she never got confirmed even though she had received all of the other sacraments so she's technical not official), and Me in a room full of Catholics ranging from those who had just become to those who were born into it.  Needless to say, it was a little overwhelming and I still wasn't in it for me, but I had the entire summer to get into it.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Contraception was created to damn women even more

Saturday we spent our day in the cafeteria of Corpus Christi for God's Plan for a Joy-Filled Marriage.  I'm not going to lie, I was dreading Saturday like you would not believe.  In addition to having to spend my day off in a basement cafeteria, I had to sit in a crowd of soon-to-be's and listen to a bunch of jesus freaks.

Man was I wrong.

We got to the school and I was surprised to see at least 35 other couples, 2 of which I knew from high school.  We grabbed a workbook and another book and had a seat near the front.  I was shocked to see a pretty average looking middle-aged couple rocking out to a little Jack Johnson running the show.  They began the whole shpeal and I was relieved because it was actually interesting and I wasn't terribly offended or bored out of my mind.  They gave us the history of marriage in the catholic church, told stories about their own marriage and where things went wrong, and approached the whole day in a pretty relaxed manner.  The whole thing was supposed to last until 4pm and then planned on getting us out at 1:30...score!  We flew through the workbook and had several opportunities to ask our future spouses questions and reflect on our own answers.

The part I found most interesting was the brief tidbit about natural family planning.  I was actually intrigued about the whole process and the science behind it (although our speaker was the mother of 7, through NFP, I was more interested in the process than why she would choose to have that many kids in a time like this).  One of the things she said that really struck me was about birth control and how it's just another thing to put women down.  Here I was thinking that birth control was another way to make women free and give us control and the point she made was so takes the onus off the man, objectifying the woman even more.  Now, I don't want to get into an argument or great debate with anyone over this but it was the first time I'd have heard a statement like that and I actually found some validity in it.  How true is it that by taking birth control, we're giving the guy more opportunities to ask for/want sex because the possibility of getting pregnant is no longer there?  It's actually taking the control away from us (although, let's not kid ourselves here, who has the ultimate say in what goes down?).

This was something that really got me thinking....and when I got home, I looked up the science behind NFP.  It requires you to take your temperature every day for a month and track changes in your mood, discharge, and blood flow and from that, you can have a better understanding of when you're ovulating and when you have less of a chance of getting pregnant.  So if you know you're ovulating, you know that sex is off the table, in the event that you don't want to have a child.  I think it's really interesting, but don't think I could stick by something like I'll continue to use the patch until we're emotionally and financially ready to deal with a little bundle of joy.