24 September 2008

Comfort in routine.

I was raised Catholic. I hated going to Mass. Hated. It. I used to throw tantrums every Sunday, well past the age where tantrums were expected or even tolerated, to try to get out of going to church. No dice.

Once I got older, I'd try to oversleep. That never worked either. My dad started taking me to church before I could even hold my head up on my own, and by God, when I was living in his house, I was going to go to church. I also hated my CCD classes with a passion and tortured my teachers. I shudder to think of how I might have turned out of there had ever been enough money to start a Catholic school in my home town.

So, as soon as I got out of the house, I stopped going to church. There was a brief period probably eight years or so ago, when I went back to church for a bit. I had several Catholic friends who went to a pretty neat church in St. Paul. But I stopped going and now I only go out of obligation to someone or something.

Despite the fact that I am a fallen or lapsed or recovering Catholic and quite frankly, I'm not even sure what I believe, I do welcome the routine and ritual of the church when I'm grieving. I willingly stayed through Fred's wake last night to participate in the Knights of Columbus (Fred was a 4th Degree Knight, as is my dad ... the whole weirdness and secrecy surrounding their initiation has always made me think the KCs are some sort of Stonecuttersesque organization) rosary at the end.

And of course, there was the funeral Mass today. I ended up singing at the request of Fred's widow. There is something oddly comforting to me about the ritual and routine of a mass for a funeral. On most occasions when I grudgingly attend church to avoid a fight with my dad, I pay zero attention and my thoughts always turn to sex, cursing and drinking. It's my brain's way of revolting? But knowing what's going to happen; the same prayers at the same time, songs I almost assuredly know ... it gives me something on which to focus. Especially when I'm singing, because I don't want to make an ass out of myself. I had some moments where I had to stop because I was crying too hard (I wasn't alone, I was singing with my high school choir director and another woman), but I think I held it together much better than I would have otherwise.

I sometimes wonder if my love of routine and ritual in my life in general isn't because of my Catholic upbringing. I have a lot of routines and some even border on the ritual. Though, that all could just be that touch of OCD I have. Perhaps they feed off of each other.

So, I'm back home and absolutely fucking exhausted, despite having taken a nap. On the one hand, I just want to stay home and be wiped out and do nothing. On the other hand, however, I know going to yoga tonight will provide the real centering and calming that I need.

That's my kind of ritual these days.

Updated: I fixed that broken link.


Ezekiel Barzillai Smythe said...

I was raised Catholic too. Though I'm on the same page with the drinking/swearing/sex/dunno-what-I-believe, I also feel comfort in the routine of Mass (which I rarely attend). There's something comforting in what's predictable, like knowing that my mom will use the same recipes at Thanksgiving as she ever has.

Jess said...

I suppose that's why people love routine, huh?

It's funny how a routine can become a ritual if it's say, religious/spiritual or crazy. But if it's say, an annual routine like having the same food every Thanksgiving, it's tradition.

I heart words.

Muffy Willowbrook said...

I was raised Catholic, too. I even taught CCD for two years. GAH!

I agree, the ritual can be soothing. No idea why, just having something familiar going back to my childhood maybe.

I have long since stopped going to church, because I'm not sure what the hell I believe in anymore.

But I can and will always wrap myself in comfort when going to church with my grandma - just something about it makes me feel at home.


Jess said...

Muffy Willowbrook taught CCD? Oh my.

I wish I could still go to church with my grandma -- the dead one, not the loony one.

Becca said...

I was not raised catholic but Missouri Synod Lutheran non the less. And I agree there is something comforting about the ritual. I also think I have a touch of OCD.

Glad to hear you made it through the funeral alright.

Jess said...

I think that's the same brand of Lutheranism as my mom. I did go to church with her sometimes as a wee lass.

And because I was a stupid kid, I got this bizarre idea that the Lutheran church was for girls and the Catholic church was for boys, despite the obvious exceptions to this rule at each house of worship.

I also sang "Happy Birthday" to every song, as that was the only song to which I knew the words at the age of three or four.

Little Ms Blogger said...

Since you were raised Catholic, did you ever look at the people that only attended church at Christmas and Easter and mock them? They were annoying because they took up space.

Every now and again, I think of going back, but don't. When asked if I went to Christmas mass from my family I say no. I get horrible looks, but won't. I refuse to be one of those people I made fun of as a kid.

Jess said...

You're a strong woman to stick to your guns like that.

I never did such a thing as a child, probably because the people who only showed up on the holidays (that I really noticed, anyway) were home for the holidays visiting their families. I couldn't say for sure if they were just the big holiday churchgoers or not.

I'm totally one of those people now, because I don't want to fight with my dad.

Muffy Willowbrook said...

Yeah, that's right! I taught CCD!

Kinda makes you shoot beer out your nose, doesn't it?

Jess said...

Well, it was actually red wine, but yes. It totally shot out my nose.