The First Lashes

And so it begins. I had a feeling that the reason my parents took my joining the Catholic Church so well is that they didn’t realize how Catholic I am. Today, I was telling my mom that we will most likely put our kids in the Catholic school of our parish. It’s a good school that even Catholic-shy Protestants send their kids to. It doesn’t cost much more than public school and I’ve been really unimpressed with public schools lately. She wavered and stalled, then confessed she doesn’t like the idea of Catholic schools because they teach the kids things she disagrees with, like “praying to the saints and doing rosary beads for forgiveness.” I told her there are things she disagrees with that they teach, but Chris and I agree with them. It’s like I slapped her and called her ugly.

She stuttered, “You believe in things like praying to the saints????”

“Yes, mom. Why do you think I’m joining the Catholic Church this Easter?”

“But Jesus is our only intercessor!”

“He is our only intercessor in one way, but even you ask others to pray for us.”

“People who are alive and in the body of Christ!”

“Those who have died are still in the body of Christ.”

“There’s nothing in the Bible that tells us to pray to the saints.”

“There is the cloud of witnesses. If they can see and hear us, and they’re with God, there’s no reason to believe they can’t pray for us. They’re not spiritually paralyzed!”

“We’re supposed to pray directly to God.”

“I do pray directly to God. And I ask you to pray for me, and Chris to pray for me, and the saints to pray for me.”

“You are such a chameleon. You change your beliefs according to who you’re with.”

The last several weeks, since Fat Tuesday actually, I’ve had this tension headache/neck pain from stress. It gets worse when I’m more stressed. Right about this point in the conversation, my neck hurt. There’s really no reason for my mom to suggest that I just conform to those around me. There is never an instance in my past when I have changed my faith, let alone changed it to agree with the multitude of strange ideas from people I’ve come across. I’ve dated atheists (one who was “Catholic”), Catholics who believe everyone goes to heaven, a multiple personality ridden Protestant, and one guy who actually thought he was God, but I never changed the beliefs that I was raised with. I’ve been surrounded by nihilistic attitudes, scientism, “spirituality” rather than “religion”, and other religions. The most I had in common spiritually with any of my friends in college was with a Muslim friend of mine who agreed that science and religion are not at odds! And yet my own mother now thinks that despite all this resistance and adversity to my beliefs that I’ve gone through, my faith is week enough that I’ve just passively absorbed that of my husband. I’ve never changed my faith for anyone, and I still haven’t. I’m not becoming Catholic for Chris. Neither am I just becoming Catholic in the same way that my parents join different churches. I am Catholic.

She changed the subject a bit, “You believe in praying rosary beads for forgiveness?”

“That’s not why people pray the rosary, mom.”

My faculties failed me while I attempted to explain the power of forgiveness in confession. I recounted Christ breathing the Holy Spirit on the Apostles and telling them what sins they forgive are forgiven and the sins they retain are retained. She answered, “I’m not sure where you’re going with that.” I considered going through the whole Apostolic succession through the laying on of hands thing. The words that Father Andrew said last week at the RCIA class on confession ran through my head, “Well, how can they forgive sins if they don’t hear them?” The look on her face stopped me. Instead I ended it with “Oh look, Isabel wants to watch Star Wars.”

I think my mom accused me of being a chameleon because she was rather shocked, and couldn’t think of another way to explain the fact that I believe in praying to the saints. Unfortunately, all this came after a bad day in which I was rather frustrated and annoyed with the kids, perfectly demonstrating how Catholics shouldn’t act. I’m holding my breath, waiting for the phone call from my dad. And bracing myself for the next barrage of challenges to Catholic beliefs.

20 Responses to The First Lashes

  1. lenetta says:

    Well, this member of the body of Christ will pray for you! And I’ll offer up dealing with a cranky no-napping Goose today for you, too. And how about some cramps that mean no baby this month? I’ll throw those in for good measure. I say all that slightly tongue in cheek but I do mean it – not sure why bad days seem to just pile it on and get progressively worse and worse.

    In case you didn’t see my public appreciation, thank you SO MUCH for the package you sent… it will be well-received and loved. And I’ll figure out some way of returning the favor, hopefully when you least expect it.

    Not sure how your insurance rolls, but have you considered seeing a chiropractor? (Have I already pushed this?) Mine does wonders.

    And finally, why didn’t you just give your mom’s puppy a kick after you slapped her and called her ugly, huh? Ah, let’s hope the week only gets better from here on out.

    Again, be assured of my prayers. I just set my little altar back up today after having taken it down … um… Christmas before last. So I’m hoping it reminds me to be more prayerful throughout the day. I’ve already had “the talk” with Goose about which things are OK for her to touch and which are not. Here’s hoping it sticks!

  2. kkollwitz says:

    You have given your mother “reason for the hope that is in you but with respect and gentleness.” That’s all you can do right now. Give your mother time, let her reflect on the fine answers you gave to her questions.
    For what it’s worth, you have my blessing.

  3. stirenaeus says:

    No matter how much we achieve or how much we’re on our feet, we’re always our parents’ children, and so whenever we do something they don’t like or get, they come up with some reason to explain it. I got my PhD, have kids, pay a mortgage, save for retirement, etc etc etc and my mom still thinks I’m her little boy. So I’m not surprised at all that your mom reacted so.

    “Chamaeleon”. Heh.

  4. Stacey says:

    Thanks for your prayers, Netta πŸ™‚ I did see that you’d gotten the “carebear care package”. I just couldn’t resist all the super cheap carebear goodies I knew Goose would love! No returns necessary.

    Chris has consented to pay for a visit to the massage place around the corner from us. Hopefully that will ease the neck pain.

    I love the idea of having an altar in the house, and I want to try that sometime in the future, children allowing. Hope it goes alright for you now. And I didn’t know you were trying for baby #2 πŸ™‚ I’ll send some prayers your way as well.

  5. Stacey says:

    Thanks for the encouragement, Christian πŸ™‚

  6. Stacey says:

    Good to see you back around here, Irenaeus πŸ™‚ I think you’re spot on about why my mom reacted that way. I know she has a strong desire to be a spiritual matriarch of sorts in our family, with all of us going to the same church and coming to her for wisdom and such. On more than one occasion, I’ve shattered that vision of hers. It doesn’t make it easier that I’m the baby of the family, and my brother and sister do listen to all her spiritual advice. So I know it’s hard for her seeing me “stray” with this added responsibility that she’s put on herself regarding our faith. All I can manage is a heavy sigh.

  7. Chad Toney says:

    Ignorant comments about Catholicism mixed with surprise that as a converting catholic, you actually believe it.

    A reasonable, biblical explanation for why, yes, you do.

    A irrational, personal, and dismissive comment.

    Repeat ad nauseum.

    I know these conversations well!

  8. Chad Toney says:

    I know she has a strong desire to be a spiritual matriarch of sorts in our family, with all of us going to the same church and coming to her for wisdom and such.

    Hah, that perfectly describes my mom as well. After my dad said, “If what I taught you for 25 years wasn’t enough, nothing I say now will make a difference,” he doesn’t talk about it.

  9. Stacey says:

    LOL… ad nauseum, eh? I’d better beef up the prayer life a bit so I can handle it better πŸ™‚

  10. Chad Toney says:

    Yes, steps one and two are usually repeated with step 3 as the most common conclusion. πŸ™‚ I think I’ll call it Butwhatabout Apologetics.

  11. Stacey says:

    LOL, I like that. “Butwhatabout” Mary being sinless? “Butwhatabout” the Inquisition? “Butwhatabout” pedophile priests? “Butwhatabout” indulgences? *groan* I’ve already noticed every reasoned Catholic response is answered with whatever black marks are in Church history and an endless change of subjects aimed at proving the Catholic Church as a whole is just plain stupid.

    My dad is a bit more of a mini-sermon type. He hopes to remind us of the “basics”, to ensure we go to heaven no matter what wonky beliefs and practices we have in the meantime.

  12. Ragamuffin says:

    What’s funny about this is that if you trade out “Mary/saints” and “rosary” for “recited prayers”, “kneeling/standing/sitting constantly” and “doing communion every week”, it sounds like some of the conversations I’m beginning to have regarding my decision to bail on contemporary evangelicalism for the Anglican church and methods of worship.

    Prayers being offered up for you.

  13. lenetta says:

    So far so good on the altar, but it helps that there are some things on there that are specifically FOR her. The only thing she’s messed with that I don’t want her to is MY rosary. There’s another one on there that I can’t remember where I got it so I don’t mind so much if she has it, which she does right now. I can hear her version of the Hail Mary, and it’s giviing ME strength to get through these no-nap days… :>)

  14. Stacey says:

    Thanks for your prayers, Ragamuffin. Hopefully, after a while, people will start to accept the decisions we make. Although I think it’s harder the position you’re in, guiding your entire family, whereas I’m just joining the rest of my immediate family. I’ll keep praying for you as well, that things go smoothly this time around and your wife can feel at home at your new church.

  15. Tap says:

    Interesting stuff as always, Stacey. Try giving her that Scott Hahn book that you’ve got see if perhaps her own mind won’t start to change.

    On a lighter note, i would like to know more about this guy who thought he was God, LOL. Sounds like interesting fellow.

  16. Stacey says:


    Do you mean Rome Sweet Home? I have to say I can’t in my wildest dreams see my parents changing their view of Christianity. It would have to be the work of God.

    As for that “special” guy who thought he was god. Wow… it was a humanist kind of “we are all god” load of rubbish. He was very impressed with his own intellect and thought it was his personal mission on earth to make me a “better” person. I really have absolutely no explanation for some of the decisions I’ve made in my past, and dating that guy would be one of them. No explanation except teenage girls are stupid.

  17. Tap says:

    Yeah, i Rome Sweet Home.

    Anyways, it would’t be this guy:

    Would it?

  18. Stacey says:

    Wow, that is some kind of special. You gotta wonder sometimes, with all the crazy there is out there, if there’s any hope. What gets me about guys like this, and other people who preach there is “no sin” or don’t believe in evil, etc., is that they are always falling all over themselves to call the Catholic Church evil and call for its destruction. Funny how Catholics can be evil even when you don’t think evil exists.

  19. laceymw says:

    Bah! I have been off of the internet for Lent so I just read this one but I have gotten this response: “β€œYou are such a chameleon. You change your beliefs according to who you’re with.”” EVERY time I successfully defend Catholicism to my mother. Good gracious, at least it’s not just me!!

  20. Stacey says:

    LOL, good to know I’m not alone, Lacey. I just told my mom, “Well, you can think that if you want to.” I guess she may or may not eventually see I actually believe this stuff.

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