Some time during my freshman/sophomore year in college, I found going to Mass was giving me headaches. I decided to take religious classes to try to come to terms with all the questions I found myself struggling with after my dad died. One of my assignments was to attend a religious ceremony from a religion that wasn’t mine. A friend of mine’s stepmom had a Dianic Circle which suited where I was in my feminist development so I attended there and then just never stopped.
I went to a progressive church with kind priests so I didn’t really have any issues with my church so much as The Church which seemed to make a lot of arbitrary rules that didn’t make sense to me logically. My biggest issue was that The Church wouldn’t allow women to be deacons which didn’t make sense to me. We had kind of a crappy deacon and I knew I could do a better job than him so that kind of aggravated me.
I came out of the broom closet to my mom and to say that was poorly received would be the understatement of the year. She took it as a direct insult to her faith and her parenting and no matter how many times I tried to explain otherwise, it was a dead fish on the floor. But with time, she started to accept my faith as a Pagan and even be proud of it in her own way.
Flash forward over ten years later. My sister was having a baby and I wanted to be godmother. My sister had stepped away from the Church herself but with the birth of her baby, she found herself wandering back. Jow was asked to be the godfather so after some discussion, we decided we wanted to make a good faith effort to do so. For me to be godmother, it required some careful logistical maneuvering but I was granted the right to do so. During this time, Jow and I started attending weekday Mass. For me, that was like a whole new world. First off, it’s a half hour so no dawdling. My attention span for Mass it turns out is approximately a half hour. Only people who want to be there attend on a weekday versus a Sunday so that cuts down on a lot of the empathetic static I was having trouble with. Since it’s a small, short Mass, that’s when all the awesome radical stuff sneaks out which also delights me to no end. I found myself coming to terms with my past and coming to peace with it. However, everything I observed or participated in was now through a Pagan lens which was interesting for me. I didn’t really feel “called” to be a Catholic again but attending did give me some peace with myself and also smoothed things out with my mom some. Once I started going again, we were able to have a more honest dialogue about the things we both thought were not good about the Church and I realized as the future keeper of the dead for my family (after my mom), it would be good to feel comfortable with the religion they felt comfortable with as having Masses for the dead is part of that. I think my mom also felt reassured that when the day comes, I’ll bury her according to her wishes. At the same time, it’s weirdly made her more respectful of my Paganism. I think we needed to do this this way so we could meet in the middle.
So at this point, Jow and I got engaged. And we talked about it, and since my mom has been so good to both of us and this time smartly didn’t make any noises about where I should get married, we decided that since it would mean so much to her that we’d get married in the Church. She was thrilled which made us happy to make her happy. We weren’t sure how the process would be for us but strangely, it’s been really good. Our priest is into exorcism and Downton Abbey and having to go through such a process makes you be really thoughtful about what is entailed in a marriage (not a wedding) even if it’s just you saying to each other, “This particular part of the process is bullshit and here’s why.” There’s also something to be said about being reassured by a person of the cloth (and the FOCUUS test) that we’re well suited to each other. It made us more confident about going into the marriage. It’s been nice to have an engagement that’s been way more focused on the marriage than the wedding.
But yeah, we’re both still totes Pagan. I identify Catholicism more as part of my heritage than a religious view for myself (sort of like being culturally Jewish) and we’re still going to get handfasted first privately.