Losing my religion
It seems the song lyrics as posts theme continues… I wonder how long I could keep it up? Let’s not answer that. I am 43 and have a good stock of lyrics that pop into my head so we could be a while. 43 years old seems quite old to decide I have really and finally lost my religion, but as the cardinals elected Pope Francis I yesterday I found I didn’t care at all, other than having the usual passing interest in headline news item. To be honest, a headline about Michael Gove would have exercised me more.
But old habits die hard, and as I was born and raised as a Catholic it was a formative experience which will never entirely leave me. Having grown up with John Paul II, I was a little taken aback when I found myself moved when he left his earthly flock. Pope Benedict however was a disappointment. Now, to write that he was a disappointment, infers that I had some kind of expectation vis a vis the spiritual leader of the Catholic Church and that’s what I can’t quite unravel. What did I expect? I don’t go to church, much less pray in the manner in which I was instructed, or follow any of the precepts of the church, so why would I have an expectation?
I suppose it was the faint hope of a sign. Many was the Sunday I stood in St Norbert’s in Spalding waiting for a sign. There were none. Then, for a while we switched churches, not denomination, just venue. We stopped going to St Norbert’s (who was he anyway?) and started going to another church in Sleaford. I can’t remember the name of the church there, but I have a vague recollection that the priest was not what I expected. And there was an old man with Parkinson’s disease who used to take his seat near the front and when he stood up he the disease would have him tremble like a Quaker. We usually sat behind him, on the left hand side of the aisle as you faced the altar. His overcoat, which he kept on was of a particular sort. Grey, a little thin, somewhere between a raincoat and proper winter coat. The coat never seemed adequate somehow. Parkinson’s seemed terribly cruel to that old man then, and it has since been confirmed to be so in the case of my grandfather, also a Catholic and of course in Pope John Paul II. Parkinson’s seemed to me then to be the very opposite of a sign. Pope Benedict, formerly Cardinal Ratzinger, offered no sign either, no sign that the church was likely to move in the direction that would have any, even faint, meaning for me any more.
It seems that the resonance is lost. It is a shame in some ways. Pope Francis seems more likely to hold the attention of the congregation and that would once have included me.
Still, times change and as Michael Stipe said
Try, cry, why try
That was just a dream
Just a dream
Just a dream