Where was I? Oh, yeah, like I said, when I was sixteen, you wouldn’t have found a more devoted catholic. I loved my faith. I finally understood that no, the world was not made in seven days. Genesis was merely an illustration of the power and total awesomeness of god. Adam and Eve weren’t the only two people on earth at some stage. They only illustrated man’s fall from grace. Dogma was another way for the church to say,
“We’re making up all this shit as we go along, so that we can paper over all the cracks”
Fr Fergus’ words when I said someone told me that it was in the bible that Jesus had siblings, so how could Mary be called the virgin mother were
“They had a normal marriage. Of course they did otherwise how could Joseph stay married to her all that time? They were both only human. Jesus did have siblings but his conception was immaculate.”
Which, coming from a priest, telling this to a girl about to make her confirmation was pretty honest.
Very basically, a dogma is something that is believed to be true even when it isn’t in the bible. It’s true because the Christian faith says it’s true, regardless of whether there’s backup or not. So what dogmas did we have as Catholics? A lot! A few are:
- The existence of original sin
- That after the birth of Jesus, Mary remained a Virgin.
- The Pope is infallible when he speaks ex cathedra.
- By the knowledge of vision, God also foresees the future free acts of rational creatures with infallible certainty.
I’ve chosen those four specifically because they are the reasons I am now going to get myself off the register.
I’ve already deal with number two, and you can check this in your bible. It’s in a conversation that takes place when Jesus is dying on the cross. Don’t ask me where exactly, but it’s in there in black and white….or whatever colours your bible’s printed in. Trust me.
Anyhoo, in the year I turned eighteen, I had finished up my secondary school and was sitting at home, bored out of my skull, waiting for my GCSE results to come out and to apply for university.
Wanna know exactly how bored I was? When a pair (I think they always move in pairs) of Jehovah’s witnesses came around…..I LET THEM IN! Yeah, THAT’S how bored I was.** I figured I could do with the chat and besides, when I was at St Pauls, we had no ‘witnesses’ in my class so this was my chance to talk to some real live specimen…didn’t hurt that the guy was kinda hot!
So I held them hostage for about an hour, asking them questions and refusing to convert, and they promised that if I wanted to know more, they were but mere underlings and would return the following week with someone who ‘knew their stuff’.
I think I spent over four months getting to know the three of them and as is usual with me and religions, I was simply fascinated. But it made me think more about Catholicism and how much I still didn’t know about the institution itself, the basics of the bible and our traditions.
Was I the only one who thought Jesus was actually born on the 25th December? Was I the only one who didn’t blink at the fact that in nativity plays, the three wise men and the shepherds always arrive on the same night to see the baby? One thing that Paul, the …erm…elder (?) said after a few weeks was,
“You’ll make a great Christian one day when you decide to stop being catholic.”
Huh? Jehovah’s witnesses were Christians? And wait a minute, people think Catholics aren’t Christians?
So I hit my research again. And bam! Jesus wasn’t even born in December.
What else didn’t I know, or better still, swallow without questioning?
As it turned out, TONS!
I started to read the bible properly. I started on the first page and didn’t stop till the very last page some two years later. It’s actually a very fascinating read. I’d recommend it to everyone.
During that whole time, I was a good little catholic girl. Okay, so the whole purity or death thing went out the window once I found out how great sex was but what can you do. I went to church as normal but I really listened this time and tried to get what it was they were trying to tell me.
Truth is, I’ve always enjoyed mass in Zambia. The church comes alive. You feel you’re part of a community; you get to know a few people, feel like you belong…it’s a nice feeling. There’s singing and dancing, it’s fun. Again I thought well, better the devil with all the flaws that I know than the angel I don’t know.
Then I came to Ireland.
**the author would like to note here that this is not a slur on Jehovah’s witnesses, they are lovely people. In fact, one of her closest friends happens to be a Jehovah’s Witness….lovely people…*