I've gone the cycles of wrestling and reconciling being a Catholic most of my life, and I admit that it's a hard thing to escape. I've practiced the rituals and spiritual traditions of this faith for so long, I feel bound to it - like I have a responsibility to it, like I have a stake in being Catholic.
Frankly, I feel Catholic. I really do. My parents are Catholic, most all my Chamorro relatives are, and there's a huge world population that identifies with being Catholic. When I had Misa and John-Pio, it was without question that they would be raised in the Catholic church, and currently, I've lived up to my self-induced responsibility from both a family and cultural standpoint. They attend catechism every Sunday, we make the sign of the cross before and after prayer, and they identify themselves as "Chamorro Catholics." In fact, they are so close to their godparents whom they refer to as "Uncle Nino," and "Auntie Nina," that they might have forgotten that their first names are actually Geri and Peter. Their experiences have led them towards a belief in what Catholics believe, and attention to how Catholics practice.
I'm proud of how my kids have been influenced as Catholics, but more than that, I'm proud to raise them to be discerning and thoughtful about how they go about living out their spiritual and religious lives. It can be such a hard line to tow these days here in Madison, especially because Bishop Morlino and I have never seen eye to eye, and I've been discouraged and outraged by his recent call to dismiss and punish the good works of others. I'm not so shallow as to let this represent all of what it means to be Catholic, as actions and decisions by the religious have long had an effect on my conscience. Admittedly though, Bishop Morlino leaves a bad feeling in my being.
I could not fake the season of Christmas without being open regarding this latest issue with Bishop Morlino. I didn't want to go through a mass with him celebrating, and I was plotting the church we would attend for Christmas mass based on where he was not. Frankly, for the past few weeks, I was feeling cynical and angry. And one thing I know about these two emotions is that when I go there, I have to consciously wage that battle with myself to push through and out of it.
Over dinner one night a few weeks ago, I brought up the work being done by Wisdom Well . We looked at their website together and I shared about the retreat experiences I had with them when I first moved to Madison. Then I shared the story published in the newspaper about Bishop Morlino's admonition against them. Our discussion was frank and instructive, and closed with my personal sentiments about his decision and why I believe what he has decided was wrong and is still wrong.
And that was that. I breathed a little easier. My cynicism and anger lifted. My kids chocked up another contribution to their developing consciousness.
I still didn't feel like going to a Christmas mass where he was celebrating. So we went to another Catholic church on the isthmus with an amazing choir filled with harmonic and angelic sounds. It followed all the goodness from the morning surprises and laughter of delight, and was especially heightened when, in the middle of the service, John-Pio leaned over to whisper in my ear, "This is really quite a fun mass, Mama."
That was just the boost I needed to feel Catholic all over again.