The Unbearable Banishment: The Body of Christ

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Body of Christ

This weekend, 8-Year Old Daughter received her First Holy Communion. Longtime readers know that I am deeply suspicious of all organized religions. But this ceremony was a very big deal to my family. My sister drove down from Upstate New York. There was a large gathering at my in-law's house. Pasta was served.

The last time my sister and I were in church together was for my mom’s funeral last year (almost to the day). It was pretty rough stuff. There were some tears. Mom loved the church so much. Not in the unkind “get saved or burn in hell” kind of way. She disagreed with some of its teachings. But she found comfort in the church and if it worked for you, welcome. She would have loved to see her granddaughter receive her First Communion.

I attended a parochial school until 4th grade. My mom and dad ran out of money and thereafter, we were sent to public school. When they first started to teach me about the body and blood and Christ, I was too young to know what a metaphor was. I literally thought that we had to eat flesh and drink blood. I remember seeing Fr. Tully raise the chalice to his mouth, drink, and a trickle of red ran down his chin. OH MY GOD!

I was ruminating with my sister on how each communicant looked like a little bride and groom. She correctly pointed out that this is the day when they marry the church. Can someone please tell me how I should feel about that?

* * *

I recently learned that the name of the city Corpus Christi, TX, means, in English, The Body of Christ.

Are they kidding? The Body of Christ, Texas?! What a terrible name for a town! It's borderline sacrilege. Is there a sister city called The Blood of Christ, Alabama or Stigmata, New Mexico?

Actually, that would be a cool name for a car. The new Ford Stigmata with all wheel drive.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

she's a really cute kid. as for your ambivalence? i understand. we want them grounded in family traditions, and clearly these traditions are important to your clan...

May 16, 2010 at 9:50 PM  
Blogger mapstew said...

Mrs. Map is very involved in the local church choir, and up until very recently the priests thought she was a widow! (Who is this handsome bald man you have been seen taking an evening walk with?)

All three daughters have been through the communion process now, with only the Youngest left for 'Confirmation'!

So far, the eldest two have taken after their heathen Da, him not being a 'god fearing' type! Mrs. Map still holds out for the Youngest! (I hope she doesn't hold her breath!) :¬)

(Hope the day was lovely for all though, it's a big thing for the kids, especially the little girls!)


May 16, 2010 at 10:32 PM  
Anonymous Rob said...

I do find it odd that parents push their kids into something that they themselves don't believe in. Then again I was raised a complete heathen. That means my children were also raised in the heathen ways (except for that Baptist pre-school when, after the first day, younger daughter excitedly informed us, "We get to SAY jebus christ!"). They are critical thinkers though. The eldest remains as abhorrent of organized religion as I am, while the younger has become Wiccan.

Ford Stigmata? I wouldn't buy it. But then, I'm a Chevrolet man.

BTW: Have you ever been to Texas? I've been to Corpus Christi once. Not too impressive. Hot, though.

May 16, 2010 at 11:37 PM  
Blogger Pat said...

I was born and bred a Unitarian but even from the grave my Irish grandmother's influence reaches me and one room is decorated with icons, crucifixes, rosaries and Madonnas. I can feel her smiling down on me:)

May 17, 2010 at 3:41 AM  
Anonymous Sid said...

Thanks for the pics. I've never been to a comminion and had no idea that the girls were supposed to dress up like in "wedding dresses". It's kinda ... eerie.

May 17, 2010 at 4:54 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Daisy: She was so happy about the whole thing and she really does love family gatherings. I embraced that part of it.

Map: The little girls really do seem to get swept up in the pageantry of it. A year ago, I overheard my daughter tell one of her friends, "I don't think daddies go to church." I must not be the only one.

Rob: My wife and mother believed in the church and I'm not one of those assholes who have to have everything my way. Marriage is a give and take. Have you heard? BTW, I've never been to TX but I lived in Phoenix for a while. There were two seasons: Hot and Really Hot.

Pat: It's passed through the generations via the gene pool. It's been with humanity from the beginning and won't end anytime soon.

Sid: It's a pretty big deal. A landmark ceremony in Christianity. Do you guys have anything similar?

May 17, 2010 at 8:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! I think you really do live near where I grew up. That looks like my grade school church (and my parent's hang out on weekends!). I'm Going through an "organized religion crisis" myself deciding whether or not to get 6-month old daughter baptized. It would certainly please the grandparents, but it leaves me and "Mr. Me" kinda cold. I'm gonna check out a Unitarian fellowship near me as many have suggested it's right up our alley. Might your reader PAT know whether or not the Unitarians have a baptism equivalent? I think that would serve to appease the grandparents AND actually mean something to us and eventually, to daughter. Thanks!!

May 17, 2010 at 8:18 AM  
Blogger Cat said...

Is SIL Mrs. Wife's sister? That is funny that they showed up in the same dress.

Your daughter looks beautiful. I have huge issues with the Catholic church, but I have to say when I walk into one, I'm always instantly at peace, so I enjoy all the First Communion's, confirmations, ect.

May 17, 2010 at 8:25 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Anon: If you want to shoot me an email I'll reveal my location. How strange would that be?! I agree that the Unitarians might have hit on something, although, I've been reading Buddhist teaching for about two years and they speak to me. The Buddhists are not at all judgmental, unlike my Catlick brethren.

Cat: If you observe the Church from the ground level, it's a beautiful thing with some beautiful people. Unfortunately, I think the upper echelon who actually run the Church are a bunch of borderline criminals. They allowed pedophiles to molest children! For YEARS! And it's not just a few bad apples like they would have you believe. It's unforgivable. And, yes, SIL and Mrs. Wife are sisters!

May 17, 2010 at 8:52 AM  
Blogger Ms Scarlet said...

I suppose, if nothing else, religion gives us the chance to dress up and drink lots of wine?

May 17, 2010 at 9:00 AM  
Anonymous annie said...

When I was first receiving the sacrament, I had been convinced by the Sisters that it really was Jesus's body, so I was afraid to chew it. I couldn't bite Jesus and then grind him up, could I? It was probably a one of those "gotcha" sins. So I would let it get all mushy and then swallow it whole. This was tricky as it sometimes stuck to the roof of my mouth and I would have to use my finger to dislodge it - another horror because I was pretty sure I wasn't suppose to touch it.

The whole business was trauma upon trauma every Sunday morning. Same wonder I am no longer practicing.

May 17, 2010 at 9:42 AM  
Blogger kyknoord said...

Next step: atheism. She's already chomped down on Jebus, so eating babies should be a snap.

May 17, 2010 at 12:06 PM  
Blogger secret agent woman said...

There is something that is both endearing and a little unnerving about all the mini-brides of a first communion.

May 17, 2010 at 4:26 PM  
Blogger Ellie said...

I wouldn't be surprised if there is a Stigmata.

May 17, 2010 at 4:55 PM  
Blogger Ellie said...

What about, "The Virgin Birth, Georgia"

May 17, 2010 at 4:56 PM  
Blogger Here In Franklin said...

In my church, kids are baptised shortly after birth and confirmed during their junior year in high school. They are encouraged to question and ponder the whole shebang.
There is no first communion ceremony. Personally, I find the bridal wear a little the boys wear miniature tuxedos?

Your girls will figure out what they believe and what they don't for themselves. I have several cousins who were raised Catholic...they are still church-goers, but they opted for other denominations as they got older.

This is all a rambling comment to say to say that rituals are ways of holding us together...and sometimes that's the most important part.

May 17, 2010 at 8:18 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Scarlet: And eat pasta. Don't forget about the pasta.

Annie: Perhaps they start kids too young on this stuff. I'm well into adulthood and can barely grasp the concept of God. But, I have to say, Daughter seemed quite joyful over the whole affair.

Kykn: Is that the natural progression? Right to atheism? No time out as an agnostic?

SAW: I didn't really make the bride connection myself. My sister remembers thinking she was dressed as a bride and it stuck in her memory.

Ellie: Too bad about the meaning because I think Stigmata is a cool sounding word for a car.

HIF: The boys wear little suits. Not tuxes, but very formal. And yes, the ritual was a great excuse for seeing everyone gathered under one roof. That was nice.

May 17, 2010 at 9:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel so bad I could not make it. This is something that can not ever be replaced; I remember when I first found out when it was going to be I said "I would not miss it for the world". I know you understand why but I still feel really bad. Wonder if I can add that to the list of "things the drunk driver held me back from" whatever it ends up being it will never be enough!

May 18, 2010 at 10:28 PM  
Blogger A Free Man said...

I will not slag off the Catholic Church. I will not slag off the Catholic Church. I will not slag off the Catholic Church....

Oh, screw it. With the latest round of molestation I finally convinced my better half that we are NOT sending the boys to a Catholic boys school. Thank goodness for that.

May 20, 2010 at 9:52 PM  
Blogger Blues said...

If the little bridal outfits mean they are married to the church what the hell do the little boys dressed up like sailors mean? I shudder to think.

Re the body of christ thing. I feel the same way when people tell me their name is "Jesus" or "Immaculada" or my personal favorite "Pain" (Dolores).

May 30, 2010 at 9:45 AM  

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