Hello My Darklings,
WARNING---this is a very, very long post. Please take your time to read it.
I’ve had several questions asked of me, and one of them is about clarification, the other about religion.
I’ve mentioned Monica, a young artist friend of mine and Monica in relation to Coralline. Indeed they are two separate people, the second Monica is Coralline’s Mother, the first is a friend.
The other question that has been put to me, and very respectfully I might add, is my religious beliefs or affiliation.
In very simple terms I am Roman Catholic. But I received my Catechism training as a Pre-Vatican Two Catholic, very old style, Latin Mass traditional training. I even have my little book that has the blue and gold stars showing how well I progressed. “Who Made Me? --- God Made Me.”
Now a days there is a schism within the Catholic Church, there are those who are Pro-Vatican Two and there are those that have broken away from that and are Traditional Catholics, Pre-Vatican Two.
Myself I am a mixture, I prefer the old way of conducting Mass in Latin with the Priest with his back to the congregation focusing on the rites of the mass. Even Joseph Campbell said that when the church changed the focus of conducting the ritual it changed the energy of the mass instead of it being focused and upward it became scattered, confused and defused. And I agree whole heartedly with that.
The altar that contains the sacred relics and the tabernacle holding the host is behind the priest and has ceased to be the focus of energy for the people worshiping. The chanting of the mass in Latin has a rhythm that carries the energy forward and upward and could be followed in one’s prayer book.
However, I do believe that having gays in the church and women priests as well as married priests especially those who have left the Anglican or Episcopal Church and converted to Catholicism would be a great step forward. And I deplore how the church attempted its cover up of those pedophile priests. I do believe in contraception for women as well as a woman’s right to choose especially if her life is in danger, the only people that should be involved is the woman, and her medical physician, no one, not an individual person, a religious organization, a political organization or a government should be involved.
I also feel that the Modern Catholic Church has gotten a little too free-wheeling in some areas, ritual is very helpful in dealing with things in life, there is something solid feeling about ritual, and once it gets too free-wheeling it seems to knock out the underpinnings in a person. That is something I have noticed, especially among young people, the foundation of one’s soul gets shredded without ritual and foundation.
I do feel that the individual’s right to cremation or to in anyway save on funeral costs I think is good. But I do prefer the old-fashion rosary, even at the memorial service, but some people I know are not comfortable with that and many people have friends and co-workers who are of different religious beliefs and so will modify the service, which is fine.
Although I do feel that the addition of the “Mysteries of Light” to the Rosary is an excellent addition.
When I pass on, it will be an old-fashion funeral service, flowers optional, donations to a worthy charity highly preferred. I do have moneys set aside for that and my burial plot and head stone are all picked out. As a matter of fact my head stone is black granite and although expensive it will have a picture of me when I was looking my best, I have that picked out as well. I plan to have it say besides my name and date of birth and death, the statement “I will return!” meaning I plan to re-incarnate.
When I was entered as a young child into the rites of the Catholic Church it was baptism, penance, communion, confirmation, then the choice of marriage or holy orders, and extreme unction or last rites now called rites of the sick. Now they have switched the order between communion and confirmation which I find a bit disconcerting.
Baptism at birth is fine or if one decides to convert, penance is usually done with “first holy confession” at age 7 because at that age it was thought that most children will understand right from wrong, what is and what isn’t a sin so they can follow the right path, but then also at that age you were invited to join “the Lords’ Table” that is communion and to take part in the mass because at 7 to 8 you are beginning to understand what is needed from you and also to continue your religious education and training in the Church to fully understand one’s commitment to it, then by age 13 to 14 to take confirmation which as I was taught, meant you recommitted yourself to the church to become a “solider for Christ” to do by good acts and good deeds show others the way to the right path of love, compassion, healing and to God’s light.
I remember the priest saying to us “Once you take that commitment of Confirmation there is no going back, your soul is pledged to do good in thought, word and deed and to show others by your actions the way to God’s love and light.”
Pretty heady, frightening and yet beautiful when you think about it.
Now they call penance or confession as the rite of reconciliation, well I can see that in a way but more for after you have been “accepted to the Lords’ table”, but I remember how important it was for me to do my first confession so that I’d be starting my religious training and acceptance to the Lord’s table with a clean slate.
But I do have to say in the past number of years, my slate has gotten pretty dirty from time to time. I mean how do you tell a priest that you had intimate relations for the first time outside of marriage, I mean I was not married. I have to laugh, I remember the priest asking if pre-cautions were taken to not transmit any disease, not pregnancy but disease. I guess that prevented him from condemning me as a wanton woman, well I knew my health education and I knew what precautions to take, and I said “yes” and he said “Good, but remember my child, your body is a temple to God and you must not abuse or defile that temple” he told me what my penance was and added an interesting rider which was to volunteer for a month at a home for unwed mother’s.
I did, yes, my Darklings I did, why? Because I was curious and I also felt that I would be cheating if I didn’t. This home was run by some nuns, and they did everything to help these young girls some as young at 14, and to work out some reconciliation with their parents or to see about adopting their baby to a childless family. They also did counseling especially if the young mothers were giving the child up for adoption and also to find the root of why they did pre-marital sex and to give them guide lines to be morally stronger. I volunteered for 6 months. Why for so long? Well I was taking psychology classes as well in college, so it was a plausible excuse to my parents.
Who was my first love? Not a callow boy, nor a much older man, no not that, and heavens! NOT a Teacher, I was aware of those schoolish traps. No, he came into my life and even now I think of him with fondness. And now?? Well I never did marry, came close, but never did marry and now I’m “living in sin” with Doyle but at our ages and in these times who cares as long as we have a personal commitment to each other.
And Yes, My Darklings how do I, an Elder/Elderly Goth who is into the “dark side” show the way to the light? For me by piercing the darkness, by looking into it and lighting that one candle to understand the evil within it and to dispel it is how I lead to the light, but at night, in those areas where I can look up into the night sky and see the milky way, into the star lit heavens do I understand the greatness of this creation, and although I feel very small, like one of those tiny pin-pricks of light, I do shine in my own way and therefore am seen by the Creator.
The rituals of the rosary, the stations of the cross, the Easter Sunrise service, even the Easter Midnight Service with the lighting of the Paschal Candle, the burning of the old palms for next years Ash Wednesday, the Christmas Midnight mass, the blessing of the throat on St. Blaise Day, Ash Wednesday service, Palm Sunday, Lent, fasting, confession (when we need it), Novena’s, blessings at meal times and other things help give construction to one’s day, are really very important, the trick though is to do it without making a show of it.
But I am also a Gnostic as well, I’ve found that its best to look into the good parts of the Catholic Faith and take that to heart, that which is dogmatic or seems to have been tainted by Man’s greed one can leave behind, I’ve also looked at Buddhism, had some of my early old testament teachings from an elderly Jewish Rabbi who was more than happy to do comparisons without saying which was better, between the Jewish view of the old testament and the Catholic or Christian look at the same book. I’ve been to Spiritualist Churches as well, my Grandmother knew a man who was a “Satanist” and under her watchful eye he talked to me about his being one, and in my college years talked to a young man of the Islamic faith as well as Native American Shamans.
When I was a child my Mother and Grandmother loved to watch Bishop Fulton J. Sheen talk on his television program “Life is Worth Living”, his talks made so much sense and for its day were very balanced. I remember especially one talk on how it was important to have Mind, Body and Soul in harmony. Even today when I go to a book sale or 2nd hand book store I look for his works to add to my library.
My Grandmother and my parents were Catholic but they were also Gnostic as well, I think because of that it has given me a more balance out look on life. Not only on my personal library shelves do I have a Rehims-Douay Catholic Bible, but also a King James, a number of books by Bishop Sheen, and other Christian and Catholic writers, I also have works on Jewish studies, a copy of the Koran as well a commentaries on it, works on Wicca and witchcraft, Joseph Campbell’s books, the Kabbalah, as well as Nitchez (I don’t think I spelled his name right) Freud, the paranormal and others including the ramblings of Anton LaVey. It is a very eclectic and wide spread.
But as I got older even with my Catholic/Gnostic studies I found that ritual has helped give foundation and structure to my life, without impinging upon it or on anyone else’s.
At work at lunch, I’ll lay out my meal, and then take a few seconds to silently offer grace, but to someone watching me, it looks like I’ve taken a few seconds to relax before I start eating which is really a good habit to get into.
When I ride the bus and Bart to work, I have a small bracelet on my wrist, it has a religious medal on it and 14 beads, 10 for the Hail Mary, 1 Our Father, and 3 for Faith, Hope and Charity, by simply crossing my hands and fingering the bracelet I do a decade of the rosary. At work they know that at times I need a little time to myself, so if they see me sitting at my desk but my head is down and I’m not doing anything they leave me alone, I tell them I need some mental alone time to collect my thoughts, they respect that.
I do it at commute time going to work, at noon, at about 3 p.m., and commuting when I go home, and after dinner, I’ll sit down and do a full rosary silently to not disturb Doyle while he reads his magazine, we’ve found that if we watch the news around 9 p.m. (there are stations that do that) and record whatever program is on at that time that we’d like to watch later it balances our day much better.
At home next to the front door, my Great Aunt had hung a small fount to hold holy water, I bless myself when I leave for the day and when I return, to protect and release what that the day may have thrown at me. It feels refreshing.
Does my sister Marie do that? We’ll I know she blesses herself when she leaves and comes home and she does the rosary privately, anything else I do not question.
I have always felt that religion is something that is private between one’s self and God and should not be a public demonstration; there is a parable in the New Testament that speaks of that.
My brother and his wife, they are Catholic, how well do they work at their Catholicism I don’t know but I’m sure they go to church several times a year, if there is no game the boys need to go to that morning, Coralline has asked me questions but I always ask her Mother how far should I go into this, not wishing to tread on toes.
Doyle? He believes in his own way, I’ve seen him bless himself, but I don’t push anything further.
How often do I go to Church? Well as a child and all through my College years I went every Sunday, then I had these work hours that required me to work nights, when the Church started offering Saturday vigil Mass I considered that a blessing, which was a compromise between myself and my parents although I’d make efforts to join them for Mass on Sundays as often as possible, my Mother would go with me to Saturday vigil mass and then she’d go again on Sunday with Dad and my siblings. Not until after my parents passed away did I reduce my attendance. The church that I went with my parents towards the end of their lives had changed too much, so much so that I felt like a stranger in it.
When I was a child and through High School, I would go with my parents, Grandmother and my Uncle Manuel to St. Elizabeth’s, it was a wonderful Church in the Grand old-fashion Catholic Style. It had these wonderful life-size statutes of the saints in one room, it turned out that this room was where the choir would gather before High Mass, and then they’d take these stairs that led to the choir loft where the great organ was housed. There was St. Anthony, St. Theresa, St. Elizabeth, St. Clare, The Holy Mother as a Pieta holding her crucified son in her arms, but above that statue was a stain glass window that showed the risen Christ, and how the layout of the church was that window would capture the sun’s arc all day so it would always be lit.
In the main church, on the left was the statue of Mary and on the right of St. Joseph, but there was also ¾’s size depiction of the crucifixion, I do not remember if it was only brought out on Good Friday or if it was semi-permanent during Lent, but I do remember it always being there. And the pulpit where the sermon was given there was this curved shell with the painting of the Holy Spirit in the image of a Dove mounted above, to a child and young person it was very moving and impressionable and very Gothic.
But after my Grandmother and then my Uncle died, after I had graduated from college and started working, we stopped going there, my Dad said the neighborhood was changing and not for the better he felt, so we started going to St. Jarlath’s and other churches but it was not the same. In my mind I can still see St. Elizabeth’s soaring interior. It was more Gothic than St. Jarlath’s. We eventually settled on a Church in Alameda, although a little bit of a distance, our parents felt a lot better about it and its location.
One thing that I discovered about young people and it was Coralline who enlightened me about this, is that the young people are really not given the mystical reasons for why some things are done, and the mystical/spiritual reasoning behind it. It’s just simply done and “we’ve always done it this way” but when I explain to Coralline the “history” behind these various things and the spiritual implications, she always exclaims “Why don’t they (meaning her teachers) explain that to us?! When you tell it, it makes sense!”
And it also re-affirms her religious convictions. And that amazes me, her sitting at my feet while I explain things to her.
Then one day I was going through my collection of Memento Mori cards and came across two of them one of Good St. Anne teaching Mary and the other of Jesus and the children and my mind flashed back to the conversations Coralline and I have and I found myself smiling.
Maybe that is why so many young people leave the church, we don’t go into the mysticism and spiritualism behind it, maybe we feel they are too young to understand it, but if Coralline who is now 11 years old can understand it, so can others. I feel that Bible study should also include the spiritual reasons why we do certain rituals; why does this have a certain meaning, and I do believe it would not be lost on young people perhaps make them more committed to their faith.
I feel that is what the church is now losing out on and may be they should bring back the old-fashioned Mass in its full glory, I think that Bible studies should be expanded to include what I suggested above especially if they are not doing it now, I think that everyone should watch Joseph Campbell’s “Power of Myth” even if Campbell was prejudice on some areas, his understanding of the important of Myth and Meaning in the shaping of one’s spiritual life is very important. I think all of that would make such a spiritual impression upon young people.
I do believe that if one can take the time to explain things to a young person they will not fall away from the faith they grew up in but learn from it and grow stronger but one needs to take the time to do that. I believe that many young people become disenchanted with the faith of their childhood and convert most frightenly to either a suicidal cult or Islam, because I learned from an experience I had that if you convert to Islam you cannot be Gnostic and I feel that cuts you off from all life’s experiences.
It is the young minds that need to be formed and educated into a good moral life without dogmatism. That was the problem I had with a young man during my college years, who was of the Islamic Faith, he claimed to have fallen in love with me but I informed him I was not in love with him but I did enjoy our discussions, but then after a few months, our discussions turned to him trying to convert me to show me that Allah was powerful and I said God has many names and is worshiped in many ways, the only laws we need to follow is to Love thy neighbor as one would love thyself, which means have respect for people’s differences without forcing things down their throats. That seemed to irritate him so I began watching his personality and behavior.
He then came back as how Islam was a peaceful religion, and I said not as long as people in those countries still practice tribal beliefs, I told him further Catholism and other religions are peaceful religions as long as nothing is forced upon one another, in many ways it has changed over the centuries, even if it is changing slowly it must change to grow with the understanding that society changes, if a religion doesn’t do that and is dogmatic then it is not faith but fear the keeps people on their knees. And I’ve seen too many cults do that.
I had gone to an interfaith worship service a few days before and had invited him to come with me but he strongly refused saying it would taint him. I brought that up to him later asking him how could something Interfaith taint him and he said I was mistaken, that is when I mentally confirmed the two-facedness of this situation and of him, as my parents had no problem with the interfaith service and even asked me about it.
I stopped meeting him for discussions, until one day he confronted me Demanding why I refused to meet him, I replied because he was trying to force conversion down my throat and I deeply resented that.
He claimed he was not doing that and I said he was by trying to trick me with flattery and now demands, he rebutted this but I insisted that was his method pointing out certain arguments and discussions that we had recently, I told him God awakens one’s mind and soul with an epiphany not with a verbal whip.
He became so angry he started calling me “Satan’s Whore” and I started to laugh and laugh loud. He demanded to know why was I laughing and I said “You and your beliefs are very weak if you have to resort to name calling. I laugh because I am strong and I will not surrender my will to someone who thinks they can flatter me or frighten me---Now Leave Me and Never SPEAK to me again!!!” I was glad that I took precautions and had maneuvered ourselves into a public area with people around us to hear this argument. He never approached me again.
Get thee behind me Satan----He transferred from the college we were attending to another, and soon afterwards I encountered a young man who thought he was a Satanist, if you look back on my earlier posts you will find that encounter and the results.
After that as I became older and wiser, I felt that my faith as I have learned it led me to many different religious encounters, including wicca and witchcraft, Ifa, Santeria and Voodoo as well as ghost hunting, all of that was interesting experiences. And I learned the Dark side through those experiences as well.
Now I’m over 60 and in a way I’ve come home, oh not with so much of the organized religion but the faith in God, Jesus, Holy Mother Mary, St. Joseph, Good St. Anne, they remain touchstones and foundations and teachers for me. I still go to church at least once a month although with the back injuries it’s been hard.
Easter was the first time since the accident, and I found something very joyous, renewing and life affirming in the Mass. I also encountered a number of people I had not seen in a long time and it was wonderful to re-connect.
I encourage all people young and old to go to the Midnight Masses, Sunrise Masses especially for those major holidays, even do the Stations of the Cross, study the meanings behind the Mysteries of the Rosary, in many ways they are both Gothic and Goth, dealing with Life and Death and Resurrection. And if you can find a wonderfully old Gothic style Church it can give a greater appeal to it
But my Darklings, I find God in everything, if it’s raining I watch the rain and what it does, the wind, the clouds, I look up at the sky at night and admire the moon and stars, I take pleasure in hearing the birds, and watching the insects like the few bees and butterflies, even the sassiness of the squirrels, Belladonna’s forays on our walks, watching the Koi swimming in the pond with their graceful beauty, watching children play and laugh, looking at the majesty of the trees, and the beauty of the flowers, the ocean shore. They become my everyday church and communion with God each and every day and I am at peace and free.
I’ll continue this later, especially about funeral rituals and memento mori and my encounters with Anton LeVey and Jim Jones. Yes Darklings I met them, ooooh the 1970’s was an interesting time.