The Confused Catholic
I'm not a religious person.
As a little girl, while spending summers with my grandma and grandpa in Illinois, my grandma would wake me early on Sunday mornings to attend 8 o'clock mass at Christ the King Catholic Church. I loved it.
"Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen."
I'd watch my Irish Catholic grandmother, kneeling, clutching her rosary beads with her perfectly manicured, soft hands, praying the Rosary with such purpose and meaning.
I had no idea what it meant. I just loved that Grandma would give me Life Savers peppermints during mass and a dollar to put into the collection basket. And although I didn't typically understand what the priest was talking about during his homily, and I was usually bored out of my mind, I always left mass with a feeling of cleanliness that I didn't have before. Now, I could go on with my day knowing that my sins had been forgiven.
My grandma passed away in 1996 when I was 15, and that was the end of my church-going for several years. My tree-hugging parents weren't exactly into organized religion, and so I didn't find myself inside a church again until my senior year of high school, when I went to Illinois to live with my grandpa (who, like me, hadn't been to church since Grandma had passed). I attended Ursuline Academy, a private Catholic school, for my final year of high school, and I was reminded of everything I loved about going to church. After graduation, my mass attendance was regular, but soon faded as other, more important, things began taking precedence: jobs, cars, friends, sleeping in.
Once again, religion was out of my life.
My mom passed away in 2001, when I was only 20 years old. It's funny how the death of a loved one can impact one's faith. My mother's death was untimely, and I was so angry at God. How could He have taken her from us so early? My siblings were still so young - her job as "mother" was not finished. "Everything happens for a reason?" That's garbage. What reason could there possibly be to take our mom from us?
As time went on and the anger began to subside, I would think of my mom in Heaven, and how happy she must be there - free from the demons that she could never escape during her short life. I would talk to her, hoping she could hear me.
I started going to church again, but this time it was to convince myself that there was indeed a God, and an afterlife. I could never accept that my mother was simply gone... She had to be in Heaven, pain-free and watching over her four children who missed her dearly.
It wasn't long before I stopped attending mass yet again.
When my son was born in 2008, I convinced my once-Catholic-now-agnostic husband that we should have him baptized in the Church. At six months old, Henry was baptized at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church.
Because I was scared.
Scared that he wouldn't go to Heaven if he wasn't baptized.
"You don't know." I told my husband. "And just in case God does exist, and He happens to be Catholic, I want Henry to start off on the right foot."
So, he did.
Henry and I attended mass for a few weeks after that.
Then we stopped, again.
I like Bill Maher. His documentary, "Religilous," was fantastic. It perfectly portrayed how fanatical organized religion can be. Basically, there are so many religions out there, and many of the followers of those religions are absolutely convinced that their religion is the right religion. How do we know? Is anyone right? Are the unfortunate souls who aren't worshipping the right god going to burn in Hell for an eternity?
If there is a god, I can't believe he or she would punish people who just happened to be born in a part of the world where the people follow some religion that isn't the right religion.
Maybe my agnostic husband was right all along.
My grandpa passed away two weeks ago. He was the greatest man I've ever known. I loved him so much. My little boy is named after him. We spoke on the phone twice every day. He was important to me... really important.
I was with him the day that he passed. And although I haven't been to church in a while, and I've completely questioned everything I've ever believed when it comes to religion, I felt so at-ease knowing that he received Communion and that a priest gave him his last rites. As the priest was reading his last rites, I was holding my grandpa's hand, watching him as he looked at the priest, soaking in everything that was being said. He seemed at peace, even at a time when he knew death was upon him.
I know that my grandpa is in Heaven now. I hope he's watching over me and the rest of our family. I hope that when it is my turn to go, my grandpa, grandma, mom, and others who have gone before me, will be waiting to greet me in Heaven.
There has to be a Heaven.
"Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen."
I'm not a religious person.