Today I got myself all worked up about going to confession, only to get to the church and find that a wedding had spilled over into the confession time slot. Where usually there were a handful of penitents, there were instead bridesmaids, bagpipers and a band of chilly-looking well-wishers. It was like a sacramental take-over (or, as I like to think of it, a sacra-jacking.)
I was actually sort of disappointed, because – as I’m eventually going to have to explain to a priest – it’s been a long time since my last confession. I’ve been having guilty dreams about my pastor lately, and I’ve been reading novels induced by the troubled faith of Graham Greene, and this morning I decided that it was time to go back to church and try to make it stick for good. So I printed out the Act of Contrition, started corralling my sins and tried to look forward to the sacrament, or at least to the moment when I would exit the confessional.
I’ve been putting off both church and confession for a long time, and I was sort of hoping that this particular confession would bring me to a turning point in my very ecelctic, very rocky faith. Because I do want to be a Catholic. I’ve tried to be other things, but none of those things worked terribly well. Then again, I haven’t been all that good at being Catholic. I just get so mad at the church that sometimes I wonder if I can even go back. I can’t stand its position on birth control. I’m appalled at the sex abuse scandal. I think its treatment of women is backward and insulting.
But here’s the thing – I was raised with the Catholic faith, and I do care about it. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t spend so much energy being furious with it. The church is part of my culture and my heritage. And so I don’t see myself leaving, any more than I see myself defecting from my family. Unfortunately, the church might end up being the family member with whom I cannot have a conversation without having a fight. I don’t know. But the Catholic church married me, and it’s likely to bury me someday, so I may as well give our relationship another shot.