Sunday, May 4, 2014

I know it's taboo to discuss sex, politics, and religion, but today I'm writing about religion.

I am a Catholic, and I will be until I die. But to be honest, I've been struggling a lot lately--going to mass has become more of an obligation (which is probably true for many others), mostly because I still haven't found a church where I feel at home, that gives me the feeling that I truly am spending time with God, and that gives me serenity, the way the best masses do. I used to go to mass every weekday at Tektite, mostly because I really like the priest there--it's like I really feel like God is talking to me. But he says Sunday mass at some far-flung place. I decided to stop going to the church near our house because of the parish woman who rudely and loudly told me in front of other churchgoers that my son was distracting (to her I say: 1) you could have said it nicely--we ended up slinking away in shame, not even finishing the mass; 2) I only took my son to church because my favorite priest suggested that I do; 3) we were actually outside the church because I am aware how distracting a toddler could be; 4) "Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these'"; 5) sigh, maybe you were having a bad day so I really should just let it go). I'm not comfortable going to mass at malls, particularly one mall where the priest once said, "If you're sick, it means that you're sinful." (I kid you not.) I like going to mass at Gesu (I tend to like Jesuit homilies) but I never know when there's a mass there.

Today, I went to mass at a cathedral, which I thought was The One. But in the middle of talking about the Gospel, the priest started yelling--YELLING INTO THE MICROPHONE--at the congregation. For being late, for being so easily distracted, for coming only because we felt like we had to, for not taking advantage of the opportunity "to feel the presence of God." To be honest, I wasn't really feeling the presence of God as he lambasted us all. I felt like I was in the principal's office, getting berated for doing something bad. I felt like I was seated before vengeful Old-Testament God, who was about to unleash a plague because we were all so disobedient. I felt like leaving.

I understand he must have been frustrated, but is shaming churchgoers really the best way to encourage them to find meaning? I struggle to understand the words spoken, the rituals we sit/stand/kneel through every week. And as a good Catholic, I suppose it's up to me to really find answers to my questions. I guess today all I'm asking is: Is there a Catholic church out there that makes going to mass something I would joyfully do, rather than something that makes me tell myself, "It's just one hour for God, suck it up"?