I’m excited to be participating in a series created by Jana at An Attitude Adjustment called Spill it! The “Spill It!” series is where bloggers wear their heart on their sleeves and share parts of themselves they might not otherwise feel comfortable discussing. This is my second post. The first Jana was so kind to host on her blog. I’m nervous about this discussion. Jana wrote a similar post herself not so long ago. But I wanted to explore the ideas more, as part of project finding me, but also to open them up for discussion and find out what others think.
When our first son was born we faced the decision of whether to baptize him into the Catholic faith. Both my husband and I are Catholic. However, we are not, nor were we raised to actively practice our faith. I attended a Catholic elementary school, received all of my sacraments, but my family didn’t attend church on a regular basis. In fact, outside of the main denominational holidays, we hardly went to church at all. My husband was much the same, though he didn’t receive most of his sacraments and didn’t attend a Catholic school. For whatever reason, be they faith or tradition, both of our parents preferred to see our children baptized, though there was no real pressure to do so.
When I was pregnant I thought about it often. At the time, my general feeling was that I preferred not to do it. I didn’t believe that I had the right to make that kind of choice for my children, particularly since we weren’t what you would necessarily call a “faith-filled” home. Yes we believe in God, and yes we subscribe to several of the value tenets associated with the religion, but we also have trouble with many of them and find little meaning in the “rules” they impart. It wasn’t something we felt strongly enough about that we felt it necessary to impose it on our children.
That was, until my son was born. When he came along, when he was a real living being in our life, suddenly my perception about life and faith and spirit became amplified. I won’t say that they necessarily changed, I just suddenly felt this intensity of emotion that because my husband and I had been baptized, that our children must be too. I believed that if we didn’t baptize him we would somehow leave him behind. To be honest, the thought terrified me. I wasn’t comfortable with the idea that he would somehow be different than us, even if it was only in the spiritual sense.
So we had him baptized. I rationalized it with an understanding that should he choose to renounce the Catholic faith and choose another, there would be nothing to stop him from doing so when he was ready. And, of course, when our second son was born, with the three of us already baptized, there was no question, he was baptized as well.
My husband and I were married in the Catholic church. When we were married we made a vow to have children and to raise them in the Catholic faith. I could take the easy road and say that we are simply honouring that vow, and I suppose, in a sense we were. But I won’t mince words, I’m not sure I did it for the right reasons. It’s ridiculous to have baptized him simply because we were. I am not normally the kind of person who does things “just because that’s how they were done before.” I usually make my own choices. In this case, it could be argued that the choice was made for me, much as I have done for them. I realize all of these arguments. I thought about them a lot when we were deciding what to do.
But perhaps, if I really stop to consider it, maybe we did decide for at least some of the right reasons. I believe in God. I believe in the holy spirit. I believe in Jesus Christ. I believe in heaven. I suppose, given earlier statements, that it stands to reason that I must believe in hell. I’m not sure really how I feel about this idea. I’m afraid to think about it to much. But that’s not the point I’m trying to make. I have to believe in these abstract notions because from them I derive some measure of peace and reason for my existence. Tomorrow will be the anniversary of my mother’s death, 28 years ago she was taken from us. If I didn’t believe in these things I think I would lose myself completely in a sense the world the inherently cruel and without meaning. And so, if I base my faith in some tiny part of the root of Catholicism and believe in finding redemption and purpose through meditation with God, then yes, I suppose I am a faithful person, and yes I do want to raise my children to feel the same. I want them to find peace through some form of inner reflection and a sense of spirituality that connects them to the world.
Is that a good enough reason? I don’t know. Now that my children are baptized will I take them to church? Likely not. I don’t believe you have to be in a place to feel faith and to believe and honour God. I believe we do that in other ways, in how we live our lives and treat others. Those are the values that I want to teach my children. That is what I believe. That is what I describe as my faith.