communion, eucharist and familial harmony anxiety
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15-08-2012, 06:06 AM
communion, eucharist and familial harmony anxiety
I am having a lot of anxiety over this. (my intro here: link )

This is mainly directed towards "recovering Christians"
Play along or take a stand?
Now that I have freed myself from having to make a show of playing along with church-stuff..... What do I do when it comes time for communion? Since I no longer believe in the concept or significance of "body & blood" (I always saw it as symbolic, not literal, contrary to the teachings of my adult-adopted Catholic faith), is it meaningless to play along for the sake of avoiding massive trauma to extended family? Or am I being disingenuous. I was always raised to be sincere about my faith (at least to act sincere), to be totally honest. Being a "Sunday Christian" was to be a hypocrite (that's bad), you had to mean it. And by extension, had to feel bad/guilt/shame about yourself if you didn't mean it enough.

Since communion / eucharist no longer hold the claimed meaning for me, does it matter if I partake? It's just a cracker. On the other hand, should I be taking a stand for free thought and against religion? If anybody for whom it holds meaning knows my position yet sees me partake, what are they to think about my level of conviction? And what message am I sending to my kids - should they get wind of my convictions. That one should hide ones convictions, be disingenuous, for the sake of not rocking the boat? Or that one should care enough about the feelings of others to not call them deluded idiots to their face ( because that is how they would take it.)

We are lazy-enough Catholics that we rarely go to actual church. Only when visiting the in-laws, for the most part. Yet the kids are on track for confirmation. On one level I feel I should politely play along to avoid being an asshole to my extended family. And to avoid a major confrontation and falling out. On the other hand that makes me a giant pussy. On the third hand does any of this really matter. If I play along, then I am only atheist inside my head. It's a minor lateral shift from where I was, and nobody is the wiser.

I have not even started the anxiety over coming out thread.....Confused
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15-08-2012, 06:46 AM
RE: communion, eucharist and familial harmony anxiety
(15-08-2012 06:06 AM)Gaff Wrote:  Since communion / eucharist no longer hold the claimed meaning for me, does it matter if I partake? It's just a cracker.

It's a really lousy cracker. Going into the church feels like one thing, having something put into your mouth feels like another. I suggest avoiding the latter. I'm hazy on it, but aren't there some requirements to accept communion (after your first communion) like being up to date on confession or other? Can you use that to explain not taking communion to your family?

The more important issue is your kids. I'm married to a believer (though her belief is waning) and we have kids so I face the some of the same issues (though no big family of believers around us). I agreed, when we married and before my atheism was defined, that if we had kids that they could be raised with her religion. When they got to be around 9 I started asking them questions, often when driving to a religious ed class - why does god let bad things happen, what do you think of a god that could stop something horrific from happening but doesn't, why did god kill so many people, why doesn't god heal amputees, how is god different than a mafia boss, if jesus is god and knew that he wasn't really going to die when crucified, where was the sacrifice, if we're able to do bad because we have free will, is there free will in heaven, etc. Just enough to have them thinking. My wife will often give her knee-jerk answer to these questions, and I leave it to the kids to puzzle it out. What I want most for them is the ability to think and reason.
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15-08-2012, 07:30 AM
RE: communion, eucharist and familial harmony anxiety
Attending the service is one thing. Partaking in the silly and creepy ritual is another. Just skip it. Talk it over with your spouse in terms of what your response will be if someone asks. Let them know that honesty should rule. You are participating in the family activity and you are not being confrontational. BUT if directly asked then honesty should win out. Just my two pence.
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15-08-2012, 08:12 AM
RE: communion, eucharist and familial harmony anxiety
I just sit back If I happen to be in church (usually funerals and sometimes Christmas). Lots of people do for their own reasons. No one is supposed to ask... If you were catholic that's supposedly between you and god. Some of my very catholic former in-laws did not always go up because they felt they were unworthy.

Funny story... My grandmother was catholic and had a catholic memorial service. The priest started the communion and we all kind of looked at each other. One little old lady got up to take it. The rest of us just sat. When my other grandparent died a year later, my dad made sure to let the priest know that the communion part will be really fast...

My Year Of the Bible - A blog on reading the Bible

Fear is strange soil. Mainly it grows obedience like corn, which grows in rows and makes weeding easy. But sometimes it grows the potatoes of defiance, which flourish underground.
- Terry Pratchett
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15-08-2012, 09:12 AM
RE: communion, eucharist and familial harmony anxiety
Hi Gaff,

In isolation from everything else, I would say be true to yourself. I would skip both church and communion. However, it obviously isn't in isolation and so I think the next most important consideration is how your wife feels about your views about religion. Personally, I wouldn't worry too much about the in-laws, but I would definitely be concerned about your marriage. If your wife is agreeable with whatever you do and believe, then I would still remain completely true to yourself. If she is not completely agreeable, then I would discuss the subject thoroughly and come to a mutual understanding/compromise on how to handle the whole situation. (I'm assuming she is still a believer since your kids are being brought up with church, but please correct me if that's wrong.)

Regarding communion specifically, as a former Catholic myself, I do know it's considered a sin by that faith to receive communion if you have any mortal sins on your soul. If you no longer believe in their god and are not honoring and worshiping him, that would certainly qualify. So, out of respect for their faith, it would be best not to receive communion and that is how you could explain it to them as well.

Regarding the kids, that's a tough one. I think the answer to that largely depends on what you work out with your wife and how important it is to her that they be brought up as believers. However, my suggestion is to be honest at least in what you don't say if you can't be completely honest in what you do say. By that I mean, don't do anything that gives the opposite message in relation to where you really stand. You don't have to actively engage them in discussion about your beliefs, but I don't think it's a good idea for them to find out later that you were pretending to be something that you're not.

"Religion has caused more misery to all of mankind in every stage of human history than any other single idea." --Madalyn Murray O'Hair
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15-08-2012, 09:43 AM
RE: communion, eucharist and familial harmony anxiety
I'd take the cracker then vomit, run from the church, screaming... RUN, RUN FOR LIVES. THEY ARE CANNIBALS!

The subtle approach is usually best.

A very wise forum member uses this line in their signature:
"The VALUE of life is the legacy we leave behind"

So the only question is... What position should you take that is best for future generations?

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15-08-2012, 01:27 PM
RE: communion, eucharist and familial harmony anxiety
(15-08-2012 09:12 AM)Impulse Wrote:  Regarding communion specifically, as a former Catholic myself, I do know it's considered a sin by that faith to receive communion if you have any mortal sins on your soul. If you no longer believe in their god and are not honoring and worshiping him, that would certainly qualify. So, out of respect for their faith, it would be best not to receive communion and that is how you could explain it to them as well.

Since he doesn't want to out himself as an atheist, would it be OK to cop to something less objectionable, such as buggering little boys? That would explain not taking communion but avoid revealing his atheism.
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16-08-2012, 04:00 AM
RE: communion, eucharist and familial harmony anxiety
You are right - stepping aside for communion is always respected as "personal reasons" at mass, not seen as a protest. I guess my inner monolog is only loud to me.

Not so much with the other side of my family - my own parents - who, while not catholic, take communion beyond seriously, and will sometimes do that "as a family" at holiday meals or other important times of gathering. Can't wait...
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16-08-2012, 10:41 AM
RE: communion, eucharist and familial harmony anxiety
(15-08-2012 01:27 PM)Jeff Wrote:  
(15-08-2012 09:12 AM)Impulse Wrote:  Regarding communion specifically, as a former Catholic myself, I do know it's considered a sin by that faith to receive communion if you have any mortal sins on your soul. If you no longer believe in their god and are not honoring and worshiping him, that would certainly qualify. So, out of respect for their faith, it would be best not to receive communion and that is how you could explain it to them as well.

Since he doesn't want to out himself as an atheist, would it be OK to cop to something less objectionable, such as buggering little boys? That would explain not taking communion but avoid revealing his atheism.
One of the main points in my post was that I think he should be as honest as possible - with himself, his wife, his kids, and his in-laws - and do so for everyone concerned. Of those, the only one I personally consider worth compromising his beliefs for would be his wife. Obviously, it's best to get along with one's wife, not only for the two of them, but for the kids as well. So much of my previous post centered around my view of the best way to go about working that out. But, regarding the in-laws, unless that's a major part of getting along with his wife, I think it's best to be honest and let them know he doesn't believe as they do. Frankly, if they disown him over something like that, he's probably better off not having to deal with them at all (unless that's going to cause a big problem in getting along with his wife).

Also, I took this to mean he already has come out about it:
"Now that I have freed myself from having to make a show of playing along with church-stuff....."

"Religion has caused more misery to all of mankind in every stage of human history than any other single idea." --Madalyn Murray O'Hair
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17-08-2012, 03:24 AM
RE: communion, eucharist and familial harmony anxiety
Not out to anybody yet - just formulating my escape plan Cool .
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