Having listed some of the more pressing reasons that I may be called to reject Catholicism, I’ll begin to look at the reasons why I don’t want to do that.
I. All That Mumbo-Jumbo
Recently, I was talking to some friends who aren’t Catholic about some of the issues I have with the church. One of them said, “Well, the Catholics have all that mumbo-jumbo…”
And I confess, I bristled for a moment. Some of that mumbo-jumbo is the very thing I love about the church.
My friend went on to talk about the connection between some aspects of Catholicism and the pagan religions that pre-existed Jesus. After that, we slid rapidly over to saints, recognized and “deleted” ones, so I didn’t have a chance to say ~
“Hang on. That connection with pagan religions – and Judaism – is part of what I love about Catholicism.”
After all, religion of some sort has been around forever. It’s not like the Christians came up with the idea of religion. So why wouldn’t we hang on to whatever traditions and rites we could? I’ve heard people fuss about that before, as if it proves something bad, but it’s always made perfect sense to me.
Being a martyr for Christianity was one thing – why would people have to give up a celebration around the winter solstice too? In my mind, the carry-over reflects our connection with the collective unconscious, and I don’t want to lose that.
The other thing that people often mean when they talk about the “mumbo-jumbo” of the Catholic Church is the saints – and I plan to keep them. No, really, I do.
I’m not giving up St Christopher – I know, we don’t count him anymore, but we really do. Not giving up St. Therese – not St. Therese of Avila or St. Therese of Lisieux either one. Keeping St. Francis of Assisi. St. Martin de Porres. St. William. St. Augustine. The list goes on and on.
Ok, maybe they’re kind of like imaginary heavenly friends… still. How could I let go of a saint who in his wild youth says, “O Master, make me chaste – but not yet.” (St Augustine.)
Or St Therese of Lisieux, who created “the Little Way” – who first said, “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.”
St. Therese of Avila, who said, “If this is the way You treat Your friends, no wonder You have so few!” and “From silly devotions and sour-faced saints, good Lord, deliver us!”
Nope, not letting go of them…
Other “mumbo-jumbo” – sometimes that used to mean the Latin mass, and that’s already gone. I don’t long for those good ole days, so I don’t have to worry about that.
Or, “mumbo-jumbo” can mean the rites and rituals of Catholicism. Once again, I’m fond of them. That’s not what bothers me.
I’ll miss the mass. It’s part of me.
I remember when I was little, maybe 8 or 9, getting up real early in the morning in the summer, riding my bike to 5:00 mass. Yes, 5:00 in the morning. Even back then, not a lot of people picked that mass, but some did. There was something magical about going alone in the quiet pre-dawn…
Those first mass memories were at the Newman Center in Lexington, at U of K. I loved Father Moore and remember how exciting it was when Vatican II started.
Then we moved to Louisville, and found St. William, back when Ben O’Connor was there. John and Vince Grenough were still priests, and sometimes we’d say the “Our Father” in sign language. And the priest from Nigeria, omigosh, I can’t remember his name – Emmanuel, maybe? Drums were a new experience in church, and we used to sing “If I Had a Hammer…” Kenny Wade was young and used to wear a peace sign round his neck.
Those are memories to pull out and look at another day.
I get to keep the memories, I know that, but they will not have the same meaning.