Saturday, June 24, 2006

DaVinci Discovery

It’s been four nights of DaVinci lectures and I have made a startling discovery. No, I haven’t located The Holy Grail. I have discovered that I am indeed Catholic.

The first night of the DaVinci Debates, the pastor at this church said to keep an open mind and that he would be curious to hear what God whispers in your ear as we explored the claims made in this book. I didn’t just get a whisper; it was like it was screamed to me…loud and clear.

I had never doubted my religious beliefs until we moved and I joined a new parish eleven years ago. It seemed several times a year my children would be told or instructed to do something in Religious Education classes that just didn’t sit well with me at all. Things I personally considered to be hateful statements such as “The Jews don’t know what they are talking about.” and (one of my personal favorites) “If Osama had a better mother that spent more time teaching him about Christ and less about being a Muslim, then none of this would have happened.” Pleeease!!

There were homework assignments for a 10-year-old that included protesting at a local Village Hall because it was decided that the Fire Department can no longer put a nativity scene on its front lawn. While I emphatically believe that people should not be offended by a religion other than their own, I also think that you should keep religious symbols to your own body, your own home, houses of worship and private schools. While I’m on a rant here, I’m also going to add that people should stop knocking on doors trying to convert people. I had one very friendly man come to my door once. I told him I was quite happy being Catholic and that I wasn’t interested in taking any of his paraphernalia. His response was that the two kids who shot up Columbine High School were Catholic. I wondered if their mothers spent more time teaching them to be Jehovah’s Witnesses, then none of that would have ever happened????? Gimmeabreak.

Regardless of what I personally believe, I don’t think any 10-year-old should be protesting anything.

Then there were these lectures we were supposed to attend if we had a child making a sacrament that year. These speakers would try to teach us to work prayer into our lives constantly throughout the day and explain how their parents made them “Good Catholics” by making them kneel on a two-by-four and repeatedly say The Rosary in their front window while their friends played outside and watched them. The woman kept speaking of this “great saint” Dorothy Day. I know the process had been started, but she is not a Saint. We were told that anyone looking at our houses from the street should know immediately that we were Catholic. There should be morning prayers, evening prayers, bible reading, daily examinations of conscience, daily masses, rosary beads on two-by-fours…..seriously, I was exhausted thinking about it.

I thought these things were more than a bit over the top. I asked our Religious Education Director about all of this and basically even though she didn’t outright say so, I was left with the sense that I simply wasn’t faithful enough. I don’t know what I was thinking, but over the course of the time I spent at this parish, I started to think that perhaps I really wasn’t Catholic. Some of the things I was told there didn’t make any sense to me at all.

Several months ago in the midst of the umpteenth priest scandal was handled, and combined with how I doubted I belonged in the Catholic Church, I pulled my children out of the Religious Education program and informed my parish and the Archdiocese that we weren’t coming back. I have since been churchless.

Two nights ago, there was a guest speaker from Opus Dei at the DaVinci debate. If you’ve read the book, you would know that Opus Dei, which is a personal prelature of the Catholic Church, isn’t portrayed in the best of lights in the story. Honestly, I didn’t know that much about Opus Dei. I had heard of them and I had heard they were secretive, but that’s about it. Basically, the speaker was there to say that Opus Dei was not a group of albino serial killers as represented in the book. He did go on to talk though about the corporal mortification such as the belts around the thigh and the self-flagellation that is told in the story and all of a sudden I understood the “kneeling on two-by-fours”. He talked about the required amounts of time they are to pray each day and something about how all members can be saints. Dorothy Day. All of these things that caused me great doubt came flooding back to me. I have absolutely no doubt now at all that the speakers and lessons at my parish were Opus Dei.

I am really angry. It’s not that I am not Catholic or not faithful enough, it’s that I am not Opus Dei. Why wouldn’t they simply say “The speaker is Opus Dei”? I also found out that a private school I drive by every single day is Opus Dei. I was shocked to learn this because I had no idea that the school had any religious affiliation at all. They have a sign with no religious symbols and there is not a religious symbol at all on the building. Why is my house supposed to be identified as “Catholic” by any passerby on the street, but their own school has no religious markings on it at all? This shroud of secrecy combined with what I consider to be extremist ideas seriously frightens me. I'm a little confused about what to do.


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