Today is Ash Wednesday.
I was able to go on my lunch break to receive ashes. Lent has officially begun.
Don’t worry–I’m not about to go off about religion. I’m the last person that would ever tell someone that they should believe what I believe or that I’m right and they’re wrong. When it comes to religion, I am completely open minded.
But I’m also Catholic. I just happen to be a Catholic that thinks that a little skepticism about it all is a healthy way of thinking. I have a hard time throwing myself into religion without trying to rationally think through it all. Even though I know it’s not how I’m “supposed” to think and feel, I don’t think I will ever 100% agree with the Church and its teachings.
Does all of this make me a bad Catholic? Some would argue yes. I happen to think it just makes me human. *shrug*
Looking back on my life, I’d say I was taught to be spiritual, but not really religious. My mom was raised Catholic, and my dad was raised Baptist. My mom didn’t like the strict Catholic Church she grew up in (it’s quite a bit different now!), so she didn’t really want to raise us Catholic. As you can imagine, my dad didn’t want to either, so my brothers and I were all “dedicated” in a non-denominational church after we were born (as opposed to being baptized). I remember being taught numerous prayers and little Christian songs when I was a young child, and it was a nightly ritual to “say our prayers.” I remember my mom or my dad would sit next to my bed and we’d go through the whole family–”God bless mommy, God bless daddy, God bless Tyler, God bless Trevor”–we’d even go on to include grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins!
After my parents divorced and we moved here to New York, we became involved with a church here, and I vaguely remember the little religion groups I was a part of. While visiting my dad in Virginia in the summers, we used to attend Bible Camp with my cousins (at a Baptist Church). So we kind of got a little bit of everything in our younger years.
My mom says that eventually, she didn’t agree with the views of the church we were attending, so we just stopped going. And we never really went back. We would sometimes go to Catholic Church with my mom’s family for holidays and special occasions (baptisms, weddings, etc.), but that was it. I always continued to believe in something, just nothing really organized.
I always said that someday, when I got married, I would most likely convert to whatever religion my husband practiced (if he practiced at all). Because in a lot of ways, I’m OK with all religions. I just think it’s nice to believe in something, and be guided through life in a way. Since I grew up feeling like I didn’t really “belong” to one religion or another, I kind of always wanted to do differently for my children.
So, well, I kept my promise. When Michael and I started talking like we were really going to get married, I looked into RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) programs so that I could become a part of the Catholic Church. Michael’s family is Catholic on both sides, and I think it meant a lot to them for me to become Catholic.
For about six months, I attended all of the RCIA classes, and then, on the night before Easter in 2007, I was baptized, confirmed, and received my first communion as part of an Easter Vigil. It was a pretty cool experience. And I was officially a member of the Catholic Church.
Michael and I attended church really regularly for a while, but in the months leading up to the wedding, we got out of the habit, and then it fell off completely. Around Christmas time, we realized that we hadn’t been to church since our wedding day. Oooops! So bad.
SO… this year, for Lent, instead of “giving up” something trivial such as soda, chocolate, or TV, we’re going to add something good back into our lives.
We’re going to go back to church on Sundays.
We know we’re supposed to be doing it anyway, but the fact is, we’re not. So this seems as good a commitment as any. And we have always been good about giving up meat on Fridays for the Lenten season.
Enough of my rambling for tonight. But I’m curious, if you observe Lent, what are you giving up (or adding) this year?
AboutI'm Heather. I just turned 30. I'm happily married, and mommy to the most beautiful little girl in the world (what, you're saying I could be biased?). Determined DIYer and homeowner. Sarcastic. A perfectionist. A bleeding-heart liberal. Frugal. Loves a little dog way more than many humans. Loves food, hates exercise (it's an ongoing battle). A loyal football fan. I love to laugh. Value family and friends above all else. Vie to be a world traveler.
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