I’ll catch myself doing ‘church things’ from time to time. Mostly little stuff, like I’ll do the sign of the cross if I’m passing a church while I’m driving. If a hearse or funeral procession passes me in traffic, I’ll scramble for something metal or the seat belt buckle to ‘ground myself’ and make sure I’m not next. I don’t even know if that is actually a church thing or not – I learned that when I was younger, so maybe my family was just always kind of weird. Maybe both.
When people ask what religion I am (which is a strange question to begin with) I’ll own up to being Catholic, but ‘Lapsed Catholic’ is probably a better way to describe what I currently am. I’ve definitely become one of those ‘Christmas and Easter’ types the good parishioners would complain about. Lately I’m not even there for that. I haven’t been to confession since my first one, and I wouldn’t think twice about hitting up a steak house on Friday.
Time wears on and my Catholic quirks and tendencies start to go away. For example, I’ve only recently stopped feeling compelled to ‘cross’ myself every single time I pray. Growing up, this was just how you start talking to God, like I had to dial his number before I could talk to him, and then sign off when I was finished to hang up. I had an impressive streak as a kid of rattling off my Big Four prayers (Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, and Act of Contrition) in about one minute thirty seconds. I don’t go in for the rundown anymore, but instead talk out whatever is on my heart. When I do try to pray word for word, I have a tough time remembering them, resulting in something like “Our Father, who art in Heaven, who may only be televised with the approved written consent of the National Football League…” So yeah, probably better for me to keep things informal.
I’m not against being Catholic – I even think there is something beautiful in the sacred rules, I just think they can sometimes get in the way of what religion is all about. God, however you go about it, should be simple. Isn’t the Cliff Notes version of Christianity, “If you trust God, and follow Christ – you’re good.”? There’s almost definitely a bible verse that describes that eloquently – but there’s no way I’d remember – but I know that’s it. I’m sure if my local priest heard that, he’d have a few words for me, but it’s true. My faith, as lax as it has been, has been a part of who I am as person. It will continue to be there with me as I continue my journey through life. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll be able to show my own children what I believe. Maybe that’s God working through me.