The email was ernest and kind. It pleaded. It joked. It wanted me to be Catholic.
It was from my future father-in-law. He’s a good guy, raised a handful of children with his Catholic wife, very into the faith.. overall I respect him. I respect anyone who loves their faith and for the most part, doesn’t push it onto me.
I like Catholicism. I’m filipino, was raised Catholic. I liked the fundraisers, the morning mass on Easter Sunday, midnight mass on Christmas Eve, eating that weird wafer that’s supposed to be Jesus’ body but somehow always sticks to the top of my hard palate. I liked it back in the day when they used to offer wine (as a symbol for Jesus’ blood) and we 10 year olds pretended we were drunk after one sip of Jesus juice. Growing up catholic was great!
But as I got older, I fell away from the faith. I became disillusioned by the history of the church, of the bigotry, of the scandals, of the fact that it was a weapon used to colonize and subdue my ancestors. I still believed in a lot of the messages, in some of the purity of love and other hopes that the bible (translated over 12 million times) contains. But I couldn’t forgive the church organization as much as Jesus could probably forgive me, and therefore I am a non-practicing Catholic and probably won’t get married as one.
But this email, sent to me last night, was so full of hope. It made me think of how certain churches were losing parish support, of dwindling numbers at the masses, of empty fundraisers. It made me feel guilty for not caring about Catholicism. And frankly, I missed the community that church gave.
My future father-in-law pleaded for a Catholic ceremony for my forthcoming nuptials to his son (also a disillusioned Catholic). A simple marriage with a simple ceremony, a ceremony that has been performed for thousands of years across the world millions of times over.
My mind pondered this: how simple! A wedding in a church! How convenient! How less stressful it would be since I’m going crazy with trying to book a venue in the mountains! How blissfully easy!
Then my mind wandered further: but then we’d have to do a unity candle. And the coin ceremony. And the veil ceremony. And a few other old ceremonies from time past that would stretch a simple “I love you and I want to be with you for a long time” to a full hour of…. ceremony. Ceremony that seems to pull away from the simplicity of statement “I love you and I want to be with you for a long time”.
How do I say this to this man, my future father-in-law? That I love his son but no, no Catholic ceremony for me. It wasn’t right for us, it’s not. We’re not even Catholic anymore. How do I disappoint people who have so much hope for us?
My email alert dinged. “We’re not doing Catholic, Dad,” said my fiance’s email response. “But thanks for looking out for us.”