I joke about my religion. Apparently that’s on the list of venial sins and I could go to hell for it, but in the same way that I continue to indulge in the mortal sin of lesbianism, I am choosing to ignore the warning. I find it easy to joke about Catholicism in the same way that I joke about myself. It’s a bit of an embarrassment (“these days”) to be one, never mind the obvious guilt that accompanies not only my transgressions or the joking, but also the act of believing itself (and it is an action).
On Sunday, I made my Confirmation. I chose the name Christopher: the patron saint of travel, and my late granddad’s name. No, not late… dead. It’s not that he is or was a particularly un-punctual character.
My Granny came down to be my sponsor (hand on shoulder before the Archbishop). My Mum and sister came down too, to see it all unfold and to give my Granny a hand with travelling. The Mass was really funny; the Archbishop (of a place I don’t recall) gave a very down-to-earth sermon about the Last Supper, which was a lot like the Children’s Mass we used to have at St. Joe’s. I liked him a lot.
Speaking of personalities, the Uni Chaplain is a really good guy- a licensed pilot and barholder, and former Anglican (and so, married). He is also really kind: he offered to come and see me while I was in hospital, he was supportive of my decision to be confirmed. Personalities are important to everything.
Until I came here, it was so long since I’d been to Mass that I kept saying “John Paul our Pope” at that bit of the service. And they’ve made changes that I dislike (sin?) to the Mass. And it was very strange. But one of my housemates and I went with another housemate (regular Cathsoccer) because we wanted to explore spirituality. I don’t think I am a “Catholic” in all senses: there is a lot I don’t believe, obviously. There are a few important things I fail- no, refuse, to comply with. I refuse to feel ashamed of who I love and how, and seeing as I feel ashamed or guilty about most things, that has to mean something important. And though I got confirmed, I am not entirely sure I believe in what I think is a truly beautiful story: the Virgin Birth, Jesus, God as portrayed by many. I want to and I try to and sometimes I reach that. But I don’t always. Though, as discussed elsewhere on this blog, I do have a tendency to believe all stories and especially the ones I like.
I do have a quite definite belief in Something. I truly believe that all people have souls. The soul is not the mind, or the brain, or a bundle of chemicals, some pot pourri of biology and chemistry and physics. A physicist husband of one of my former Religious Studies teachers, told her that energy never dies. A belief in ghosts, or spirits, is not incompatible with a belief in science. There is something beautiful about that and, I reckon, something true. There is an energy within us we can’t account for- we are not automatons, we are not animals. Each person is truly unique and each person has a soul. Even the evil. I think that.
More than that, I think that our souls are watched and cared for by something/one. And I don’t know for sure what that thing is. Nobody can. I can’t even form a true image. And it makes it easy for me to do a Peter-style denial of religious belief. But it’s there.
So I got confirmed because I believe that sometimes, the best way to access a thing you believe in, is via the route that you know. I was brought up Catholic and more than anything religious, that culture has been important to me- jokes and seriousness, songs and sadness. So I am accessing the thing I believe in through a process that I know and I hope that in doing so, I am doing right. I hope that my faith is founded. If it isn’t I’ve lost nothing as compared to what I hope I will gain.