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11/1/08                                                                                       View Comments

Recovering girltruth from the mask of Catholicism

Sent in by Stacey

When I was nine I had it pretty figured out. I was smart, fast, creative, bold, adventurous and curious.

Mom relocated us back to Michigan, first Hollywood and a then a brief stint in Oklahoma City. It wasn't just Michigan. We were in one of the most isolated pieces of land in the Western most Gogebic County --filled with a lot of elderly people, mostly very devout Catholics.

It seemed a bit strange. I liked the smell of incense and I loved carrying the cross when it was my turn to do class Mass. I was pissed I couldn't at that time be an altar boy or possibly work my way up to priest.

I was re-baptized at age nine. I didn't like that. And then it was First Communion. I'm the one in the photo snarling in my too itchy scratchy starchy dress.

I didn't like that by becoming Catholic I would suddenly have to give up my right for freedom --no questions asked. Being a girl baptized Catholic is a commitment to original sin and shame and very few options of how to grow as a woman. Magdalene or Mary. Sinner or Virgin. What's in between? You pretty much get split in half whether you like it or not. Soul is striving to be saved and body is confused about its natural healthy function as a woman. I'll never forget how horrified my sister was when she got her period. She kept it secret assuming she would go to hell.

Me on the other hand --I chose the path of Magdalene who they brainwashed me to believe was 'the other kind of woman'. I figured I wanted to be like her instead because it was much more interesting than the Virgin one.

I was recently in the same church of St. Sebastian --where my grandfather recently was carried out of during his funeral --and listened more deeply to the things we said day after day after day, mass after mass...'i am not worthy to receive you.' 'i am not worthy...'

i was thinking...that's quite a seed planted in a young mind in a collective setting. that's quite a wily weed. Who knows how it will grow later on into adolescence and then maturity and then elder years. That one seed 'i am not worthy' even in the context of communion, surrounded by shaming and sinning and punishment and secret confessionals...it is a recipe for low self-esteem and low self-worth and low self-love.

At least, that's how I saw it.

At nine, I was pretty sure that heaven is what you make of it, and that being a girl is a pretty cool thing no matter what. Odd how during confirmation, the girl part of me died and the realization set in that being a girl raised to become a woman in a Catholic tradition confirmed punishment of the female spirit --and punishment of the human spirit. I tried fighting but wasn't big enough. I entered the black and white 'this is how it is' reality.

I broke away by the time I left home. I never looked back until recently into my early thirties. I see now there are some beautiful gnostic roots in Christianity that I respect because they respect me. The rest --most of it --feels rooted in fear, manipulation and power over --patriarchal thinking to maintain a system of oppression.

It's a human rights violation as far as I'm concerned, and I'd like to see more people speak out against it.

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