Perfunctory Catholic

When asked my religion I usually just say that I am Catholic. I have been a card carrying Catholic for 23 years. Before that I was an unsaved heathen.

My parents were two different denominations. Mom is a non-practicing Southern Baptist and dad was a non-practicing Episcopalian.

Our house was not one where God was discussed, at all.

Becoming a Catholic at the age of 26 was my idea. It really was the only religion I knew. Most of my friends were of two religions – Catholic or Jewish.

For the first 13 years of my Catholic-hood I was an on and off church goer. It was every week at first, until I moved 2 miles away, then that quickly became never. It was not only the distance; it was my infant daughter who would scream like she was on fire every time we entered the church.


St. Raymond’s Roman Catholic Church – Bronx, NY                          (c) Liz Kelso 2013

The Monsignor lured (threatened) me in to coming back. There was a tuition discount for active church members. I would have to go weekly and drop my envelope in to get this discount.

I scraped together my $1 and dropped it in. My daughter was 7 years old now, and we had moved back to the neighborhood the church resided. Every Sunday I walked down the block, sat for 45 minutes, repeated the prayers by rote, and walked back home.

This was the price I had to pay for my $600 a year tuition discount. It was bearable.

Eventually I would join the choir. I found this a better use of my time. Since I had to be there anyway, I might as well do something.

My children have since left that school, but I remain in the choir. I have been a choir member for 10 years.

Still, I’m perfunctory.

Much of the stuff that is said doesn’t resonate with me. If I was not in the choir, I would not go to that church, or any church. However, I have grown to love my choir mates, and cannot imagine not seeing them every week. So I go, sit and sing. Haphazardly cross myself, mumble the creed, but sing with fervor.

One day when someone asks my religion I will say, “I’m spiritual not religious.” But right now, I don’t feel like explaining it to everyone.

Those who know the truth are the only ones I concern myself with.



About Liz Kelso
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