My Adventures at a Catholic Graduation

GraduationMy step-daughter graduated from grade 8 last night. The graduation was held in a Catholic Church (yes, she goes to a Catholic school) and I went. It was quite an adventure and my wife kept looking at me side-long to see whether I was going to burst into flame or begin laughing hysterically.

I wasn’t turned into charcoal but I nearly burst into laughter many times over.

However, I can proudly announce that I didn’t laugh. I kept my nose buried in my handy e-book for much of the time instead.

So anyways, the church was very ornate. The priest sat on what I can only describe as a throne. It was raised on a dais; was rather too big and he often sat on it and looked down at us as if he were a king. The priest also wore green and white robes and instead of investing in a book holder, he would have a small child hold a gigantic bible in front of him so that he could read from it.

His first speech was (predictably) about saving up riches in heaven because riches on Earth were meaningless and hollow. I found this amusing since we were all sitting in a church that could feed thousands of people, and there was an offering plate clearly visible.

I guess these riches are only meaningless if regular people partake. Church groups are clearly not held to the same principles.

Don’t get me wrong – I believe that his message (stripped of all its magical talk) is spot on. I don’t think we need to covet huge riches and I do think we should all be helping each other live better lives here on Earth while we can. I just find it hypocritical in the extreme when one of the richest organizations on Earth proclaims that being poor is better than being rich and can do so with a straight face.

He also explained how he became a Christian. Basically, he said he too went to Catholic school and one day while the teacher-priest droned on about Jesus, he realized he believed in what he was saying and that YES he believed in Jesus.

I couldn’t help think how unconvincing this argument (or tale) was and I wondered why he bothered to share it at all. Surely there were better ways to spend the time and more valuable things he could impart than his unconvincing tale of being indoctrinated by his teachers.

Anyways, the mass was full of standing, singing, praying, sermoning (not a real word I know) and kneeling. I stood when people sang. I stood when people prayed. I sat when asked too. I didn’t pray or sing myself and I did not kneel. A few times I felt the priests eyes on me but that’s fine. I don’t believe in what he’s selling and while I won’t embarrass my step-daughter or make a scene, I also won’t condone what he’s selling or partake in it.

About halfway through, they did communion. This is where I had to stifle my laughter.

The priest held a wafer over his head and stared at it intently for about 30 seconds as if this would magically turn the wafer into something more than plain bread. I found myself wondering how a grown man could do such a thing and realized that I was living in a culture that taught this was normal behavior and a valuable thing to be doing.

People shuffled up to drink from his golden chalice and eat his wafer. My butt stayed firmly planted in the pew. My eyes continually roving to my watch.

The mass took an hour. The actual graduation took about 20 minutes. Dump the magical stuff and we could have been in and out in under a half hour.

On the good side, my step-daughter got the academic achievement award. She also dressed in a Tuxedo and looked amazing. I was very proud of her. She went out with her friends afterward, and I was glad that I could be there to support her.

Shine on you crazy diamond.

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17 Comments

  1. Congrats to your step-daughter!

    Personally, if there wasn’t someone in the graduation depending upon me not making a scene, I would have tried to make the people around me burst out into inappropriate laughter. Not that I’ve done that during church services back in the day or anything…

        • Haha that’s hilarious. They both have a great sense of humor. They clearly don’t believe in what their school teaches in religion class. However, the school gets funding from the church and government so Catholic schools often excel at education and are often better at academics than their public school counterparts. I wish it were the other way around and resent my tax dollars going towards indoctrinating small children.

            • No separation although the courts often rule as if there were. Other churches have asked for funding to open schools but our government seems to think only funding one group is fair and equitable.

              We don’t pay a tuition. The Catholic schools get funding from their church sponsor (whatever church sponsors them) as well as government funding. Public schools don’t get private funding so they have less money to operate with.

              It’s a shame really. It’s especially visible when they do things like hand out the award for the most decent of kids. I forget what the official name of the award was but the principle said it’s the kid that shows the best manners, is the most friendly, who you’d like most to have as a neighbor etc and follows that up with ‘and probably most importantly, shows the most Catholicness during mass’. As if that’s the most important thing.

  2. Congrats to her on graduating, and on wearing a tux (surprised a Catholic school don’t have more strict gender-dress codes). Your story brings back memories, I used to be one of those small children who held the Bible up like a human book-rest, and damn those things were heavy!

    • Ha! Many of the parents and teachers actually told us how sharp she looked. I was surprised as well. She did try on a dress as well, but she decided she liked the tux better, that it was more comfortable and suited her more. I agreed as did her mother. She looked amazing.

      I didn’t get the whole book rest thing. It looked disturbing. I’d be ashamed using a small child to hold my book for me like that. Besides, sometimes he would read a few lines only. If the book is so important, you’d think he could have memorized those small bits.

      Thanks for stopping in.

  3. Ha ha , reading this after my comment on my own post brought back memories.
    Yes, it was more or less exactly like this for me too. Though there were no ebooks back then and as much as I tried there was no way I would have been able to sneak in a paperback.

  4. Fascinating. Reminds me of my first time in a church at my grandfather’s Catholic funeral. I was 9 and I was spooked. It was in Latin and there was a lot of smoke.
    Glad to see that you’re back.

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