Why Bother Remembering Our Religious Upbringing?
My parents were both raised Catholics, and they in turn raised my siblings and me in the same religion. As infants, we were all baptized, and later, attended parochial school where we received instruction for the sacraments; confession, communion, and confirmation. Like all the other eight-year-old, while in second grade, I underwent training for my first confession before making my first communion.
I recall sitting in the large classroom with the other thirty or so other second grade classmates of mine trying hard to keep my eyes on the teacher, a nun wearing the traditional black robe and habit which framed her white wrinkly face. She explained the doctrine of sin, but I just did not see how it applied to me. Although I had seen my oldest brother get angry and cuss, I could not recall any of my own offenses. I’d never been spanked, scolded or sent to my room without dinner. I didn’t whine, complain or talk back to my parents, let alone any other adult. My siblings had dubbed me the “angel” of the family because I never did anything wrong.
Evidently, even though my comprehension of this particular doctrine was little to none, I was not exempt from making my first confession. The next morning, I followed my classmates over to the church and waited in line to make my first confession. I stood with my hands folded in front of me and chewed on my lower lip. Even the boys, normally fidgety and giving everyone goofy looks, appeared solemn and serious. Then it was my turn. I stepped inside the confessional and closed the door quietly behind. Kneeling down, I waited. Finally, I heard a little wooden panel slide open and a deep voice spoke, “What sins do you have to confess, my child?”
Making the sign of the cross and remembering my part I said, “Bless me father, for I have sinned and this is my first confession.”
“What are your sins?” he asked.
Then, I froze. We had not practiced this part of the ceremony and the only sins I knew of were those of my brother. “I got mad and cursed,” I stammered. The unseen man on the other side of the panel gave me my penance, “Say three Hail Marys, and go in peace.”
I left the confessional and made my way to the nearest pew to say my three Hail Marys. All the while I wondered if these prayers would cover the lie I’d just told or the sins of my brother.
Though I never became a devout Catholic like my parents, the religious upbringing they provided me with, planted two important concepts into my young life. First, there is Someone greater than me and secondly, we all need forgiveness even if don’t think we do.
Why bother remembering our religious upbringing? It is worth recalling our religious upbringing because more than likely, there is a seed of truth to be nurtured.