With Easter Sunday this weekend, I’m taking a moment to reflect on the beliefs of my upbringing versus my current beliefs, now that I’m raising a child of my own.
I was raised Roman Catholic. Super Catholic is what I call it. I had one or both of my parents as Sunday school teachers, throughout elementary school, in our small parish on a military base in England. Stateside, we joined a small country parish, where my mom was the parish secretary and my dad was the president of the parish council. I attended CCD, whether I wanted to or not, until I graduated from high school, was active in my diocese, and went on to become a Eucharistic Minister attending a Catholic university.
I remember being frustrated with the Christmas-Easter people (ChriEasters), packing our small country parish pews and creating parking nightmares two Sundays a year — where were they the rest of the year? Funny to think that I’m not even a ChriEaster these days, but I don’t view myself as a lapsed Catholic either. Strange thing, that. A recent surgery had me name my religious affiliation, and that I still give as Roman Catholic. I suppose I don’t mind being buried under the same religion with which I was baptized.
Sure, I’ve attended mass a few times over the years. I remember attending mass a couple times in graduate school when my stress levels were at an all-time high. It was both a comfort and a relief to lose myself in the ritual of mass, providing respite for my chaotic mind, if only for an hour. There’s something peaceful, and a little like coming home, about the monotony of the Catholic mass.
With the passage of time, and more life experience under my belt, my church attendance waned, and my belief in organized religion faltered. Learning more about the Roman Catholic Church’s violent history, and treatment of homosexuals and unwed mothers, was enough to deter me from practicing. To be honest, my belief just wasn’t in it any longer. I was still a spiritual person (and still am), I just didn’t believe that my higher power’s name was G. O. D. And I still don’t.
My husband wasn’t raised with religion, unless you count a few Sundays at his nanny’s Episcopal church, and our marriage ceremony was strictly a legal one, with a Justice of the Peace officiating in the ballroom of a hotel (nice and neat – ceremony & reception all in one place). Now that we have a child, I think about religion more often, and wonder how we will instill some sort of belief system in our children. I know that there’s so much more to it than that, as church provides a wonderful sense of community within one’s community, but we’ve already got that covered. I’ve questioned why we even celebrate religious holidays, such as Christmas and Easter, as both held such religious significance in my childhood (anyone else remember being super excited about the advent wreath as a child?). I also question returning to the Church, if only to instill a belief system and shape my son [because that’s what was so ingrained].
The good thing about my questions is that I don’t have to have the answers now. Our son is still young and we have plenty of time. For now, we’re happy dyeing eggs, marking religious holidays with family meals, and being an Easter Bunny and Father Christmas kind of family.
Are you an Easter Bunny kind of family? How do you handle religious holidays in your home – commercialized, religious, or both?