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Being a Cool Catholic


kamurj

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Excerpted from
If I'm Waiting on God, Then What Am I Doing in a Christian Chatroom? Confessions of a Do-It-Yourself Single
By Kerri Pomarolli

Catholics were the coolest when I was growing up. My dad and his whole family are Irish and Italian Catholics. It didn't make me sound zealous or fanatical to say I was Catholic. It was cool and most of my friends went to (and slept through) Mass with their families just like I did. I couldn't stay awake. And when I was awake I spent a lot of my time jabbing my dad who would be nodding off. I'm thankful it was only forty-five minutes; then we were off to the buffet or something more stimulating.

In the seventh grade we had to go through the Sacrament of Confirmation. It's the equivalent of a Bat Mitzvah, if I were a Jewish girl, but without reciting from the Torah. The parties are much smaller and you receive less cash. But still, it was tradition. We'd have to go to these special - and boring-classes on Wednesday nights to prepare to be "confirmed" and accepted as adult members of the church. Thinking back, it's not like we were forced to really sec the meaning behind this ceremony; otherwise, I'm sure it would have been more interesting. But at thirteen, the only thing I was interested in was who was on the cover of the Teen Beat magazine that I'd smuggle into class. My heart was far from God.

Confirmation is kind of a Catholic 'coming out" party. The big thing we had to do was choose a saint whose name we adopted as our confirmation name. The bishop would come to our church and one by one he would bless us and call us by our saints name in from of all our loved ones. Afterward, we had our party.

Choosing a saint's name was supposed to be a thoughtful decision, but everyone knew all the girls would choose Mary and all the guys would choose John. Well, my friend Kathy and I decided we would be different. As I was reading an article on my crush of the month, Corey Haim (License to Drive and The Lost Boys), I was reminded of his classic film Lucas. There it was - my saint's name. Hey, no one told me any guidelines regarding gender. I would be a revolutionary, I thought. Kathy also chose a nontraditional confirmation name - Zoe.

See, here's the deal ... no one saw our choice of saint until the actual confirmation ceremony. At that time we were to write it on a card and present it to the bishop when it was our turn in line. So when it came time for the ceremony, I was in line with all the other kids in the front of the cathedral as the St. Mary's, Michaels, and Johns were being announced. Then it was my turn. The bishop took my card and with a brief hesitation said something like, "I now confirm you, St. Kerri Lucas Pomarolli!" It didn't gel the rave reviews I had hoped for. Actually, I think my parents were in shock; they didn't know whether to pray for me or kill me. They laugh about it now, and so do I. I guess I didn't take those rituals too seriously at the time. And hey, stage time is stage lime. Why not go for the attention?

What an idiot I was! I'm not proud of that incident. I realize that I never bought into the theory that rituals would bring me any closer to God. I see their beauty now, but the Catholic teachings of my youth relied on the rituals too much. My teachers didn't teach me of a loving Father I could pray to in my bedroom, a gracious God who wants to hear about my successes and failures. I did learn about the fear of the Lord, but even that seemed so distant; God seemed to be so vague and so far away. That's not the God I know now. My parents did a good job of teaching me about God's love though. I don't remember denominations really meaning much in my family. Mom is a Presbyterian and they just taught me to love God and his Son, Jesus.

Let me say this before I go on: I have met some amazing Spirit-filled Catholics in my life. I know now it's not about the denomination; it's about where your heart is when you're there. I didn't open my heart to God's teachings until I was out of college, found a pastor I understood, and stayed awake during his sermons. It could have easily been a priest but that was just not the plan. I do miss the bingo though.

When people ask me what kind of church I attend, I just say, "Christian - and it's really fun.'' And I actually mean it!

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