Sunday, 3 November 2013

Sex, drugs and rock n roll: my parents think I'm mad

And it's not just me.
Recently I have had a few conversations with friends and acquaintances who suffer from a weird problem. Actually it was a relief to me to find I wasn't alone, because after yet another conversation with my Mum which involved her threatening to throw a book which I was reading in the bin because it had the word 'Catholic' in the title I was starting to get a bit stressed out. The only reason that book didn't end up in the bin (or the recycling, at any rate) was because I pointed out that it was borrowed. Others have had similar conversations with their parents about books written by saints or popes. We are Generation Y: hiding our spiritual reading under the bed.
The strange thing is that we were all baptised and brought up Catholic by our Catholic parents and now they don't like it.
Now, I admit that when I discerned my vocation and then entered community I didn't hand it as well as I could have done. Announcing my decision in the car as we were driving along a dual carriageway might have had a very different ending and comments such as 'over my dead body' were perhaps only to be expected. But it started long before that. When I first went to university, there was mild concern over my regular attendance at daily mass. Attending social events at the chaplaincy was also considered worrying. It was the first time in my life I had the opportunity to have friends who were also Catholic, friends who, whatever else they were getting up to at the weekend, would make sure they went to mass on Sunday. The people who thought this was odd were the same people who insisted I came home at 9am after a Saturday sleepover when I was a teenager, so that I could go to mass.
I have a crucifix on the wall and a statue of Our Lady in my bedroom which is considered excessively pious of me, and yet there is a crucifix on the kitchen windowsill (in fact, now I come to think of it, there are two). We each own a copy of the Catechism, but knowing what is written inside it is over the top.
I know that it is traditional and expected for each generation to view the other with mild irritation and bewilderment (music isn't what it was, after all) but praying the rosary, going to confession, not talking in church; these are things our parents taught us which they now hope that we don't do. And then there are the things they hoped we would do, these being 'normal', but we choose not to because we are Catholic: things like sleeping with people we aren't married to, using contraception and talking openly about the fact that we are against abortion rather than just thinking about it. We try to keep up to date with Church news, keep an eye on what the Pope is saying in his weekly audiences, and pray for episcopal appointments. We don't eat meat on Fridays, wish the clergy would dress like clergy and also hold dangerous views about such controversial things
Our parents brought us up to be Catholics, and now that we are, they find it worrying.


  1. I also face the same sort of incomprehension on the part of my parents - though, to be fair, my mother (a lapsed Lutheran) only had me baptised in order to get my younger sister into a Catholic school.

    On announcing that I returned to the Church, I got the comment "That's nice, dear!" until, a few months later, when it was clear that I meant to take things seriously, and it caused major outrage. I took private vows (my parents found out by accident a few years later, as I didn't want to face the reaction) and was told that I had wasted my life.

    Hang on in there. It does get easier... well, one gets better at ignoring the reaction...

    1. Thanks, I am getting better at the ignoring, and also a little more strategic (see: not announcing life-changing decisions from the passenger seat at 70mph). I do love and appreciate my parents and I am grateful for all the support they give me, but sometimes I am a bit mystified (classic comment: "I don't know where I went wrong with you").

  2. It is ok to be a sport fan but when one gets serious about the Christian faith then one is called a fanatic.
    my wife tells me she does not care where I worship and it is none of her business as Catholic and Anglicans are virtually the same worship -but if she found out I was a Catholic she would be the same as your respective parents.


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