Why I Left the Catholic Church

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The real title to this post should be, "Why I Left Saint Thomas for Saint Paul."

As an attempt to get out of the house and do something for myself for the first time since having my two children, I joined the choir at Saint Thomas Catholic Church where I had been married five years earlier and a parishioner for twelve years. The fact that singing with a group of elderly strangers was my best answer to combating the monotony and boredom of motherhood, proves how intense the desperation and delusion of staying at home all day with a two and four year old was for me. Those who say "mother-shock" and post-partum depression don't last past the first few weeks after giving birth are full of shit.

After about six months of singing mezzo-soprano during Sunday mass, the choir director asked me to step off the risers and take a shot at cantoring the mass parts. Although I was quite nervous in the beginning, after a couple of months of singing solo, I quickly became comfortable singing to the congregation.  Hand in hand with that comfort, went the parishioner's respectful courtesy and tolerance of my inability to really sing on key for more than two measures.  It was something of an unspoken agreement I had with the other church goers -- they would pretend like I could sing well, and I would pretend like they were reverently participating in the Holy Mass instead of plotting their premature departure after Holy Communion.

About a year into my wild and crazy hobby, I realized that I had quite passively lost enough weight to fit back into my smallest sized clothes which had been hanging in the back of my "Closet of Many Sizes."  The I time spent singing and practicing must have replaced the time previously spent napping and eating ice cream.  I was more comfortable with my body shape and excited to wear the crisp, white, French linen blouse with buttons up the middle which I hadn't fit into since my honeymoon.

On a sunny September Sunday morning, I approached the lectern feeling fresh and renewed in my Town & Country inspired attire.  Even though my confidence about my voice was strong, I still despised being made to raise both arms straight up above my head in the "lazy touchdown" sign (and keep them there) as a gesture to the congregation to join in song.  My choir director rejected my instinct to gently and briefly raise one arm halfway, and strictly required uniformity in all the actions of the cantors.

As I began to sing "Holy, holy, holy, Lord.  God of power/God of might..." I scanned the congregation for familiar faces.  Oh wow!  I had no idea the gastroenterologist who performed my colonoscopy last month went to church here, I thought, ...I wonder if he recognizes me from this angle?  And isn't that the guy I dated during my eleven week break-up from Ken who asked me to marry him?  He looks REALLY old now, but at least his wife is pretty.  I am SO GLAD that one didn't work out for me!

As I briefly stepped down from the lectern, a woman sprang up from the end of the third row pew closest to the choir and quickly shuffled straight towards me with her hands forward as if she wanted to grab my boobs.  I guess most girls would step back from this type of approaching stranger, but being a busty broad I get this type of introduction all the time.  So I just stood there.

The conservatively looking middle aged woman came right up to me, pulled together my open blouse and said, "Oh Honey - please button up - they popped as soon as you lifted your arms!"

I looked down to see all but the bottom two buttons of my blouse completely undone.  Raising my arms so high must have brought the fitted pleats of the shirt up to my bust line where the tension forced the closure apart.  The worst part was I had about fifteen seconds for the priest to finish saying whatever three sentences he says before I needed to get back up and sing the Memorial Acclimation.

Fumbling like a panicked teen-ager to button up my blouse before Father's attention came back my way, I reloaded and dashed back up to the lectern in time to start the, "Christ has died, Christ has risen..." intro.  This time singing with my hands tightly gripping the sides of the podium in order to keep my cans confined and myself from passing out of embarrassment.  My reunion with my previously scrutinized audience was humbling to say the least.

After our final hymn that Sunday, I dashed out of arms of Saint Thomas and straight into the anonymous and all accepting love of Saint Paul...Church, that is.  Although my cups runeth over wherever I choose to worship, at least Saint Paul's has given me a chance to strap down tighter and start fresh with a clean slate of respect (for myself AND from others).  Two things I promise myself this time around:  I will never join the choir at my new parish, as well as ever wear a button up blouse again.

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