Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Let's Go To Church

I was in Rochester for a fairly short trip this weekend in order to go to a friend's baby shower. Because I didn't get a lot of time with my parents, I decided to go to church with them. Those who know me know that this is a little weird seeing as how I avoid the church unless it's Christmas, a wedding, a funeral, or some other kind of service that I can't get out of going to. I'm an agnostic and really haven't found any kind of organized religion that I get along with. Then there's that God thing, but that's a whole other issue.

My family is what you would call good Catholics. My parents go to church every week. They've been both active in the church for as long as I can remember. I never realized how big a role the church played in our lives until this past Sunday. I also truly saw for the first time how much has changed for the church since I could be counted as a regular worshiper circa 1995.

When I was a kid, almost every service at our church was full. The weekly attendance figures were over 2,000 during the 1980s. Life as a Catholic kid meant church on Sunday, religion class one other day of the week, youth group another day as I got older, being an altar server for five years, and then a Blood minister for mass after my confirmation. I had friends I only saw twice a week that I thought of as my "church friends." I looked forward to the services that featured the town's Choral group, or the five-piece folk ensemble. I loved the singing. Everyone sang in our church during all parts of the mass. We were big on full participation.

Now? I know it was a Sunday of a holiday weekend at the tail end of summer, but the once very crowded service was practically empty. Parking spaces were plentiful in a lot where cars used to be lined up like sardines in order to get everyone in. I looked around at the faces and didn't see too many people I recognized outside of our family friends who were there to do the readings. My mom mentioned that there was talk of consolidating two of the morning masses into one. In this era when dioceses are closing down churches by the handful, St. Charles is fortunate to still have a large enough attendance to not be considered as a possible shut down.

For all the differences I have with the Catholic Church and religion, I have a lot of good memories of my time spent there. It was a huge part of my youth. Seeing it all again this Sunday as a willing participant, I felt sad. It was another reminder that you can re-visit those places of your youth, but as with anything, it's part of the past.

1 comment:

Mr. Nighttime said...

"It was another reminder that you can re-visit those places of your youth, but as with anything, it's part of the past."

Indeed, as I found out very well on my recent NYC visit. How strange is the lens we view our younger days with.

As for organized religion, (an oxymoron, if you ask me) I am on your side.

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