Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Christian Vows

Yes, I am posting a topic relating to Christianity on a pagan blog, but there is good reason. I was reading (on one of the fora of which I am a member) about the dishonouring of the vows and affirmations made on (our) behalf at baptism and christenings. Given my post on Making and Breaking Oaths back in May, I had to think about this.

First of all, at baptism my parents and godparents undertook vows to school me in the ways of Christ, and affirmed that they repent of their sins and renounce evil/satan. Well, its up to them as to whether they upheld those values. Nothing was required of me at the time, so I consider I have not broken faith with anyone in this regard.

However, my confirmation is another matter. I undertook that myself, though not necessarily of my own free will. I attended a convent and, before we made our way to high school, we were required to take our confirmation. I wasn't too enamoured with the whole process, but I really had no alternative, being 11 years of age. I did choose a confirmation name; one that fitted with my other names and had nothing at all to do with the saint I most admired. I did choose my sponsor; a neighbour whose outlook on life was wonderful, not because he was devout. I do remember mumbling through most of the service, but not being very happy about all the hours we undertook working towards it.

It was the same for my first confession, in which I rattled off things I thought the priest might expect from someone my age, not what I really thought, i.e. that the whole thing was a farce. My communion was no different. I was a child and my parents, and, more especially my grandparents, had expectations of me. I fulfilled those as a dutiful grand/daughter, but most of what I did as a Catholic was done with my fingers crossed from the age of 5 when I first attended school and figured out life was far more complicated than the church, and the bible, would have you believe.

At 19, I held a little, itsy bitsy ceremony and renounced my religion. No-one was in attendance, and I didn't renounce deity, just the whole Catholic system. I felt it was the only thing I could do, even though I knew several good people who were devout Catholics, including my Aunty Pat (as she is affectionately known), a woman so kind, so giving, so forgiving she ought to be cannonised before her demise and my school principal, Sister Marcella who tried desperately to reconcile the bible with origin of species theory. I had no faith left in the Church, and the majority of its members seemed such hypocrites. The priests were often drunk, moaned about not having enough money for the church repairs whilst driving around town in a large Mercedes, and employing a full time housekeeper, despite a convent full of nuns living opposite. Certainly, it seemed as though they were never short of a good meal, nor did the nuns for that matter. My own grandmother would steal flowers from people's gardens on her way home from church.

Everything I read about the religion into which I had been baptised seemed false and I could no longer stomach it. I was an adult, supporting a family of four and felt I was able to choose for myself. So, one day I decided to voice my feelings.

Of the questions I was asked and what I was required to say, things have moved on a bit - to say the very least. I don't repent my sins, as I am not sure what a sin is anymore. I turn away from Christ, as a deity. I know he lived; its recorded, but he is not my idea of a god incarnate. I don't reject evil, either. I accept it is a part of our world. I believed this when I took confirmation, too, so its an odd question to answer. The only one I did not answer honestly (at the time of my confirmation) was accepting Christ into my life, because I didn't though I said I did. Once I left primary school, our family seemed to abandon regular church attendance altogether and I had a feeling that might be on the cards, but I went along with the rest of the congretation and answered in the affirmative.

So, do I consider I've broken vows? No.

I felt I undertook the whole process under duress in the first place; I certainly wasn't sure about what I was being asked to do, and I never took the process seriously, even if others did. Certainly, the Christian god does not appear to have punished me for leaving the Church. I have a feeling he might be disappointed with the Catholics, and if he had a choice, he'd probably renounce all affiliations with them, too.

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