For the record, I never claimed I was a good Catholic. I haven’t been to mass since my grandfather used his magic and effective Catholic guilt powers while visiting one weekend a few years ago. And I deemed the entire experience a miserable waste of time as the homily was all about how the church needed more money for their sacristy. Not exactly an enticing sermon to charm a lost member of the flock back to the herd. Big fail on Padre’s part.
But, the hubs is all about saving our son from the clutches of hell and wants to get our kiddo baptized. Being the good mom/wife I am, (and with no real reason other than, “I don’t feel like it,”) I figured we should splash some holy water on the kid and call him saved.
So we recently took a baptism class at our cathedral. A few hours in the house of our Lord to learn all about the sacrament, baptism ceremony, paperwork, and (ahem) donation. As you can tell, it was a hella fun evening.
Here’s one interesting fact about our cathedral: they do “full immersion” baptisms. Yup. It’s exactly what it sounds like. Padre will immerse my 10-week-old child completely into the water. Not sure if this is for grand effect or if us Los Angelinos are just really, really sinful.
Anyway, we still have some paperwork to fill out before the ceremony date can be set. A birth certificate—natch. And a little piece of paper signed and sealed by our local parish that basically says we are Catholic and live within their parish boundaries. Shouldn’t be too hard, right? Just walk right into to the church you never attend and ask them to initial here and there.
Oh so, so wrong.
It reminds me of one of those timeshare sales pitch deals. They pay for your trip and all you have to do is listen to a lecture about timeshare opportunities. Easy? Wrong again. Because once you get into those sales pitches you start to think, “Hey, this isn’t a bad deal at all. Maybe I should…” and you’re right where they wanted you. And now you have a timeshare in ski town for the middle of the summer.
Fork. You. Done.
Remember this: the Church has been in sales for centuries, people. They know all the tricks. They’ve tried force (Crusades), bribery (Kingdom of Heaven), and the infamous guilt I keep bringing up. This timeshare-esque pitch is just another tool in the arsenal.
Here’s how I envision it going down:
“Sure! I’ll sign your paper, but will we be seeing you and the lovely family this coming Sunday?”
Crap. You’re cornered. You have to agree or else they might not sign the paper you need. They have all the power here. So you promise and now you have to show up on Sunday because you promised in church. And you can't lie in church as I'm fairly certain that's a non-stop, all expense paid ticket to hell. And then you show up on Sunday and every Sunday thereafter because the priest strategically places himself by the door as you exit and asks if he’ll see you next Sunday, leading to a viscous never-ending cycle.
Then the day comes where they need volunteers for the bake sale fundraiser. You have to oblige them or else they'll start with the guilt. "Jesus wants you to bake something for our fundraiser. He died for your sins, you know. We're taking dead as a doornail here, bub. Do you think a few dozen cupcakes are too much for you to give to your Lord and savior? We didn't think so."
Then you're at this bake sale and now they need someone to help teach Sunday School. Or look over their books. Or help usher the next mass.
Now, you have to spend your Sundays as an indentured servant (mortal soul hanging in the balance and all) while you listen to some man's interpretation of what Jesus was saying, though you're pretty sure any four-year-old can pick up the whole love-thy-neighbor thing better than most adults in the room, as you nurse a burn you got making Jesus some sugary baked goods.
Then you realize that this was all for a silly piece of paper so your kid could land in a dunk tank of holy water.
As you may have surmised, I’m sending the hubs in for that signed and sealed paper. I’ll cover him from the couch. We're all safer that way.