Botched Assignments

Since I was Catholic for 25 years, I acquired a couple of goddaughters. One being my sister Bernadette, of whom I was not technically godmother, because I was not old enough in the church’s eyes at the time. But they made an exception for me, giving my good standing in the church and in school. I really was quite the exceptional Catholic at age 13 . So when she was a couple months old and I was nearly 14, I dressed up and went to church and we had a ceremony initiating her into Catholicism, and making me promise in front of God and the congregation that I would raise her in the Catholic Church as a spiritual guide. A couple of years later, D was born and we went through the whole thing again, with me promising much more reluctantly to make sure she stayed a good Catholic. Well, she turned 21 the other day. She is the legal full adult now…although I still wouldn’t rent her a car. I started to think about the fact that I left the Church, and sort of stopped guiding those I was supposed to be guiding. I wondered where she stood spiritually, because I know my sister didn’t pan out the way my parents had planned. Both of their daughters left the church, and became flaming pagans. So naturally, I had to check in with D to see where she was. Turns out, exact same story.
Forced when she was younger, bailed as soon as she could, took up an interest in Wicca. Not practicing, but definitely investigating. So in the end, I didn’t so much end up raising a couple of good Catholics soldiers, so much as a couple of heathens…just like their godmother.
[  ] I remember being young and thinking about the possibility of having children. This was never forefront in my brain, but was more of an implied future that I, at the time, didn’t really think I had much say in. But still, I picked out names, considered what colors I would paint bedrooms, and mentally considered godparents. As time went on however, my options dwindled. People who I would have chosen left the church, and it made me consider why. I mean, I had my first problem when I was about 8 with Catholicism. That would be the day that I learned I could never be a priest. See, in school we were taught about the sacraments- we were told that when you got older, you were called to one of two sacraments: Marriage, or the Holy Order. The Holy Order seemed pretty cool, mainly because my aunt was a Sister of Mercy and I saw the way she lived. She got to share a house with her best friend, go on lots of trips, and spent her time working with the church- which, again, as an 8-year-old who had been Catholics since the day she was baptized, this sounded rad. The thing is, however, I was a preformer. I was not interested in the second-banana role of the nun. I wanted to be in the spotlight. I wanted to say Mass. And then my very loving Aunt Ka very gently told me that was not an option, as I was a woman, and thus the first seed of doubt that I was in the wrong game was planted. But I held off on expressing my contrary reviews even as they grew with age. What would have happened? Would my mother have disowned me for wanting to give up the Church and turn from God? Would I have had to leave my friends and switch schools? Would I have had to give up teaching the littles at Religious Education, something I really did love doing? So, I kept my mouth shut. I was very happy to be asked to be Bernadette’s godmother, and at the time that really meant something to me, religiously. It was a little different when D came along. Her mother, Beth, was not quite simpatico with the church at the time, but *her* mother was….and is…hugely involved. When D  was about two or so, it was agreed that she would be baptized at our church. Beth chose me and her brother Tom as the godparents. I remember asking her why, with my doubts, did she choose me? She replied something about how we were best friends, and she was a single mother, and if there was anyone that was going to take care of her baby should something happen, it was going to be me. The Church describes godparents as the leaders of a child’s spiritual upbringing. Some people define godparents as a sort of backup, just in case. My own parents did that in two ways for me. Ka was my godmother, and while she would never be able to take me in should the worst happen, my godfather Uncle Terry and his wife Sue, certainly would. And so, I became both those things to a baby D. Beth knew I wasn’t going to make her Catholic, but she also knew I would always have that child’s back. I think my parents felt similarly, because while I am Bernadette’s godmother, one of the best Catholics I know is her godfather. He is a humble man, so he probably doesn’t feel the same way I do about it, but him and his family exemplify what good Christianity is, and that has always given me hope.
[  ] So no, I don’t go to church anymore. And neither do my godchildren, mostly for the exact same reasons that I left, and it would appear we all found the same answers in the same place. So maybe, in the end, I did exactly what I set out to do

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