Shrove Tuesday. Pancake Tuesday. Mardi Gras. I love me some good pancakes. A good string of beads is fun too. So I’m not complaining. But I’m not going topless through the streets, whether in New Orleans or not. The waistband of my jeans was complaining last night after a feast of blueberry pancakes and sausages. But oh boy, they were good.
So now what? Now we have what we Catholics (and lots of other Christians) like to call Ash Wednesday. What is Ash Wednesday? Well, the history of it all and a pretty good explanation can be found here. Basically it signifies the start of Lent. What is Lent? Well, that explanation can be found here.
But what does it mean to me? I’ve been thinking quite a bit about that lately. So here goes.
I was born and raised Catholic. Baptized as a baby, attended Catholic school for elementary and secondary. Even the year of university that I managed to squeeze out was at a Catholic affiliate college. I attended church every Sunday growing up, with my Mom and Memere. Hardly ever missed. Usually I quite enjoyed it. Especially when there was a priest at our parish that worked really well with the people. There are a couple of priests that I can think of from as I grew up that were wonderful men, who helped me be excited about my faith, who helped shape me into the person I am today. I am so thankful to them for all that they had to offer to my childhood and adolescence.
Somewhere in my late teens, I got away from the church a bit. One priest that I was particularly close to was transferred after many years with us and I had a really hard time getting used to his successor. Not that he wasn’t a really nice man, he just didn’t mesh super well. I strayed away slightly. Then, as I got closer to where Joe and I were planning to get married, I found my way back, attending mass in London where we lived. We attended together as a couple, and it felt good to be back into the swing of things again, to belong to a parish again.
Eventually though, we strayed again. I would go through spells, attending mass with my Mom, especially when we moved back into the rural community I was raised in. But there was no regularity to my attendance. When I had my son, I had him baptized in our church, as it was important to me that he be raised in the faith, and attend separate school as I did. But here I was, not attending mass myself on a regular basis, or making sure that my son was exposed to it the way I thought he should be.
I felt slightly detached I guess. My beliefs were still there, but I wasn’t really following through on them. I would kneel beside my sons bed every night and say his prayers with him, but then when I went and crawled between my own sheets I wasn’t saying any myself. Going to church was a thing that was always there in the back of my mind, slightly nagging. Every Sunday morning when I got up, I knew my Mom was at home, getting ready to go, and that she would be super excited to swing by and pick us up on her way. But I chose to spend the morning cuddling with my kid instead.
I think that part of the reason that stopped me from starting back was that whole – the longer you’re away, the harder it is to go back – thing. I knew I shouldn’t feel that way, that I was welcome and would be accepted back with open arms whenever I was ready to go. But that didn’t really make it any easier.
A couple of weeks ago, I called up my Mom and the boy and I went to church with her. Again last week. It’s a start. He is starting school in the fall, and I want him to at least understand why we enrolled him in a Catholic school. I want him to have the same foundation that I have. What choices he makes in his life when he is older will be his own, but I want to lay the groundwork so that, combined with the values and morals that his father and I hope to teach him, he will have a running start in the world.
And maybe there’s still hope for his mother too.