Saturday was a special day for the Muench family. Maddux made his First Holy Communion. There was a lot of time, energy and preparation involved in this sacrament....workbooks, prayer memorization, personal interview (yes, really) and a day-long retreat. It was a big deal, and Maddux looked very handsome in his dress clothes. I was raised Catholic, married in the church (after investigating some other avenues), and we "chose" to baptize our children into the Catholic faith. Honestly, all of this was done without much thought, but rather, out of a sense of obligation and tradition to our families. I have struggled with several of the basic teachings of the Catholic church most of my life. While helping Maddux to prepare for this occasion, I had a lot of mixed feelings about what I was doing. Although I found these feelings bothersome at times, I continued to help him in his quest to receive the sacrament. Because I made a promise in front of God and my family to raise my children Catholic.
Rather than go into the specific "rules" I don't agree with about the Catholic faith, let me say I came to the conclusion, after much reflection and visits to churches other than my own, every organized religion has it's flaws. I kind of equate it to the many, many homes I've lived in over my lifetime... there are always some good design elements, and some bad. For instance, I loved our home on the lake, but hated that it was also located on a busy street (dangerous for the kids in both directions), or, the layout of our home on Hickory Drive was perfect for our family, except the kitchen was too small and needed updating. You see what I mean? Ya gotta take the good with the bad. One of my dreams has always been to design my own home, to take all the great things from past houses and then build something "perfect." But even then I'd probably find something I could improve upon. I feel as if organized religion is the same deal.
I could concentrate on the details, like all the Catholic guilt that gets handed out (here's a stellar example: during the First Communion mass homily the priest told the children that because it was a Saturday they were to return Sunday morning because Saturday didn't fulfill their Sunday obligation...and besides, they could wear their nice clothes one more time. Even if their parents wanted to sleep in (mix of laughs and groans emerge from the pews here) the child was in charge of encouraging the family to show up).
Or, I could look at the big picture.
Going to church has always been a great way for our family to spend time together. With the wide variety of ages of our kids, it can be tough to work around schedules or to even make it a priority to be together. Families need to spend time together. Church and dinner are two ways the Muenches make that happen. I also believe many of the problems our kids face today arise because of a lack of self-esteem. Having a firm understanding that their life has a purpose and there is something greater than ourselves in this existence is critical. Also, knowing they are special, not just in the eyes of their parents, but in the eyes of something MUCH bigger is key.
Maddux felt very special on Saturday, we treated the day as if it was, and he was, cherished. I may not agree with all the terms and conditions of the Catholic church, but it will give my children a foundation from which to work from when they become adults. At that point they are free to make up their own minds on how to proceed, without comment from me.