My evenings in the early portion of this week were taken up by Baptism preparation classes. I know, I know, but “We have, we will, we will,” should be taken seriously.
Last year, I was lucky to meet the one good Catholic priest. Father Roger is a man who is not ashamed to admit that he has had his crises of faith. He is also the most logical man I’ve ever met. (He argues canon law – he should probably know his stuff.)
I can’t say that I believe in God or that I want to convert to Catholism(wow!) but this guy makes me think and teaches me more and more every time I talk to him. He’s patient, he’s always thinking and he’s passionate without losing sight. The man can relate the lack of Catholic faith to The Exorcist. It still makes me wonder how but he appears to have gotten it right. He may believe different things than I do but I can’t fault his reasoning at any juncture. There’s no point when he’s talking that I could (not that I would) blurt out, “AHA! You’re WRONG! See? THERE IS NO GOD!”
Even if Catholicism is a fiction, it’s a very pleasant fiction – some guy died just so we’d be nicer to each other and have some place to go when we died. Yeah, it’s nice. Sure, there are evil things done in the name of Catholicism – Inquisition anyone? – but Father Roger is actually able to communicate the meaning behind what I’ve always seen as empty rituals. He’s always teaching and I guess that’s why we get along so well.
We decided to go to his parish after spending the weekend at the Engaged Encounter retreat. However, we just recently actually started going. I don’t have a problem raising my children as Catholics (leaving the door open for them to evaluate their own faith when they’re ready to do so) but I’m not going to push for going to church if it’s not a priority.
We ran across Father Roger at a recent Engaged Encounter weekend (we help out on the first night, showing people around, taking their bags to their rooms, etc.) It brought back a lot of memories from last year: The uncertainty, the insecurity (hey, I was surrounded by a whole passel of Catholics whose judgment I irrationally feared.) and a lot of learning. And he remembered us. It had been a year and 50-75 married couples later, but Father Roger remembered us. And he reminds me of my uncle Al, minus the blindness and alcoholism and plus a few inches and some ceremonial robes.
So, we spent a very warm couple of evenings, cooped up in a back room of St. Michael’s Resurrection Church, learning how we… ahem… We are of the Royal Priesthood of Jesus Christ (well, excepting yours truly, who has not been, and will not be Baptized) and it is our duty as priests to bolster the faith of our young ‘uns. At one point, Father Roger said, “And it is not we, the ordained priests who perform the Baptism. Who is it?” The room was dead. The silence stretched. I offered, “Um… God?”
“Good answer, Liam,” the holy man said, giving me a Fatherly pat on the shoulder (pun intended). “But that’s not the complete answer.
It turns out that we are the ones who perform the baptism by offering up our children in the service of Jesus. Wow. We gots us some wicked God-powers. With the exception of me.
It’s amazing how little you’re allowed to do as an unbaptized person in the Catholic church. But hey, they’ll take the baby.