Sunday, March 13, 2016

Is Church attendance all that odd these days?

I'm not sure that I should write this post, let alone publish it. I don't want to appear holier than thou, and on this subject one can slip easily into that mode. Neither do I wish to put down any of many friends, many of whom will know who they are if they read it. Further, though I don't think that I hide my religious beliefs I'm not comfortable waving them from the rafters either. They Holy Father is right: our actions should speak for our religion. Yet I find that I am bugged to write it anyway and let the chips fall where they will, and hope that readers understand my point.

I spend last weekend at a curling tournament. Before I left, I did a web search for Catholic Churches in the area where it took place. It's an easy thing to do in this internet age. I found four within an easy drive from the hotel where I stayed and wrote down all their Mass times; not knowing when my team would be playing until the tournament played out, I knew I would need options. As it were, we had to play at 9AM Sunday, and a Church just down the road had a Mass at 7:30. So that's where I went. I didn't even make it a point to tell anyone what I was doing. But when asked where I was going I answered honestly, because I'm not hiding the fact either.

The response ran the gamut from respect to humor. The humor I get: Marty goes to Church? It was friendly enough and I accept it on that level. Yet much of it was an odd amalgam of incredulity, embarrassment, and even excuse mongering, though I don't believe I had intentionally laid a guilt trip on anybody. But it was at times somehow admiring (So you went to Church, eh? Good for you) laced with pity (I could almost hear the unsaid question: why did you waste your time with that?) to shy excuse making (though I never asked anyone for the reasons they did not go). I suppose what got me most was the number of people, at least a dozen on Sunday and even a few more during my Monday night curling league who somehow got wind of my churchgoing, who, it seemed, almost felt they had to come to me and say something about it.

I know that Church attendance and belief in God is down. But I never thought that it was all that unusual these days. The only time I felt similarly to last weekend was back in 1989 when my daughter was born. She is our third child. My wife and I felt on display at the hospital. We actually heard the nurses whispering: See them? They're here having their third child. Together. And they've been married the whole time!

To the point, I find myself dismayed by it all. It just sounds very sad. Yet I don't see what I did to provoke it except to do what I always do: go to Church on Sunday. I simply don't know what to make of it.

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