So, I took my child to church last Saturday.
One of my dearest friends has a son who attends a Catholic school, and last Saturday, he had his First Communion. They graciously invited us to the Mass and the lunch afterwards and we accepted.
My son has been to the church once before, with his friend, and he had attended a Lutheran service with his grandma. So a Christian church wasn’t unfamiliar to him. But, I still expected him to be bored and antsy. I expected to have to answer a ton of questions that I didn’t know the answers to or didn’t know how to answer at this time. I also expected to have an argument with him on the way home when he wanted to do what his friend was doing and how he wanted to be Catholic because they got to do all of this stuff.
I was mistaken.
The questions did come, but I was well equipped to answer them. With my Lutheran background, I was able to explain a lot of the items and images he saw around the church. We talked about Noah’s Ark, stained glass windows, angels, incense, altars, and Mother Mary. It was a great little talk. I explained to him that we use some of the same things (candles and incense) and how some feel that Mother Mary is another face of the Goddess.
Then the service began.
Of course, my little man wanted to participate. He wanted to kneel when everyone knelt (ain’t no leg workout like a Catholic mass! My poor knees and quads!), he insisted on having the Hymn book open and attempting to following along. He watched his friend receive his First Communion and then wanted to get in the line to receive a blessing from the Priest. We walked up together.
After the service, he had so many questions about how my beliefs are different from Catholic beliefs. It was a really great learning opportunity for him. I truly want him to choose his own path and, really, this exposure will make that decision, when it comes, and informed and enlightened one.
We went to my Circle’s Beltane ritual later that evening. He spent his usual time running around with the other witchlets, enjoying the gorgeous day! He was also quite curious about the altar, and asked a lot of questions.
Now, you see, my son doesn’t usually give a flying hoot why we’re at his Auntie’s house, he’s just happy to be with his friends. I always ask him if he would like to participate in the ritual, he always says “no.”
This time was different.
He stood in our circle, he helped me, when it was my turn to assist in calling the Quarters. He took part in cakes and ale, even repeating in his little voice “may you never hunger” and “may you never thirst.” He helped to anoint the Maypole and then danced around it with so much enthusiasm! It was so exciting for me to see him participating to so fully and paying such close attention.
I don’t know if he was inspired by seeing his friend participate in a Catholic ritual, maybe he’s just getting older and becoming more interested, or maybe he was inspired by Mama’s book (he has recently pulled out “What are the Elements” and has been studying it intensely and asking many, many questions).
Either way, I’m so pleased that he is learning this and that he feels comfortable asking me questions. I don’t regret taking him to the Catholic mass, it was a great way to expose him to something new, while I was there to support him and answer his questions.
I’m often afraid to expose him to religions that I don’t agree with and don’t believe in. And when I think about that fear, I can’t even tell you what it is that I am actually afraid of. I need to be less afraid and let him explore the world. I will raise him to be smart enough to question any religion and choose which one sings to his soul. (Though, really, I kind of hope it’s mine.)