You want him to say what?

I was raised Catholic. Attended Catholic school all the way through. I have completed most of the sacraments, and I am pretty versed in the traditions of the Catholic Church. I believe in organized religion in general, and I believe that faith and the need to pray to a higher being is vastly important to masses of people. Whether they be of my religion or of the many others. I am what you would call a Christmas/Easter Catholic. Not present every Sunday, but was always a fan of the role that my religion played in my upbringing.

When tragedy strikes some people, they either turn to their faith, or they turn away. I fall into the latter. I very much respect every person’s beliefs, and I am actually quite jealous of people who have been able to fall into the safety net of their faith, and embrace the challenges that God has put before them. Me? I have not been able to be one of those people. I still struggle with the question ” Why would God do this?” What did I do so wrong to someone to deserve the wrath of losing a son and then having his brother be left severely disabled. I try to celebrate the blessings that I have in my life, but they are sometimes overshadowed, as I am sure anyone can appreciate.

God and I don’t see eye to eye on a number of things anymore, and I can’t say that we have been BFF’s since Aug 2nd, 2007. One might say that I am a tad jaded.

Regardless of my doubts in  God and his plans, and what has transpired, I know how much I enjoyed being raised as a Catholic, and attending Catholic school and I wanted that for my kids.  My kids are both baptized in the Catholic Church, and now they attend Catholic grade school. It was extremely important for me to have my sons baptized, even more so for Maclain, because of how close we came to losing him. When they turn 18, they can do what they like, but until then, they would be following the same path.

And so as they get older, they start to reach certain milestones in the Church. Chase had a big year in Grade 2 with his First Reconciliation,and then his First Communion, and now it is time for Maclain to do the same.

I attended a mandatory parent meeting at the church a few weeks back, bought the suggested books, and listened to a recap of how the sacraments will proceed on the day of the event. As I sat there, I of course thought about how to make sure that we will need to give Maclain extra prep, and started to formulate in my head a plan to meet with his school team to discuss getting him really ready to participate in the upcoming sacraments. Already looking forward to the party at our house afterwards with the cake shaped like a cross, and gifts of youth bibles and gold crosses.  How exciting this was going to be for Maclain, and how cute would he look in his little suit, with all of his classmates, participating in a religious rite of passage. Towards the end of the session, reference was made to any children who would be completing the sacraments, and had physical, cognitive or learning disabilities, and for us to speak with the church assistant, So I lined up, and started to talk with her about expectations, and accommodations, and she was very lovely about the whole thing. I was focused more on the First Communion part for some reason, but then out of nowhere I asked her about what Maclain would do for his First Reconciliation, aka First Confession. As it must be completed to have your First Communion. It entails saying a prayer to the priest, and then confessing your sins, and then you are given a penance, and then you are free to go. It is absolving you of your current sins. I expressed to the assistant that I was worried about all the words that Maclain would have to memorize, my reluctance to bring his communication device into this situation,  and if he would totally undertand the concept and asked her what they have done in the past with similar students. She was very nice and said not to worry, that all he really needed to be able to say was ” I am sorry Jesus”

And with those 4 words, everything came apart for me. I. Am. Sorry. Jesus.

Excuse me, could you repeat that?

You want this boy, this innocent soul, who has never committed a sin in his life. Who has never lied, or cheated, or bullied, or talked back, or had an ill thought. To apologize? To say I am sorry? To be granted formal forgiveness? For what? What has he ever done to anyone? May God strike me down, but I believe that he is the one owed the apology. He has had his twin brother taken from him, he has been left disabled, he has to struggle so much with so many things and will for the rest of his life, but you want him to apologize to God, in the Church, witnessed by a priest, so that he can be ready to receive the Sacrament of Communion? I have been beside myself ever since that night at the church. How can I just have Maclain apologize, even if just ceremoniously, for sins he has never committed?

Well, its not going to happen. Not on my watch. So unless someone comes up with a better idea, there will be no further sacraments for Maclain. Not in the Catholic Church anyways.

Is any other religion hiring?


4 thoughts on “You want him to say what?

  1. Our priest said that our son doesn’t have to participate in reconciliation. He understands that he hasn’t sinned. However, our son is on the ketogenic diet for intractable epilepsy. He is very restricted with carbs. The priest said that if he can’t injest the host he is unable to receive the sacrament!

  2. Hey, Brenda. We met briefly at OACRS this year, so I am not sure you will remember me. I am a part of the PAL group, but that’s not exactly a small group anymore (Lol). I’ve read this post several times. Powerful. Gut-wrenching. I wish we could have talked longer at OACRS – and about this. I am Protestant, so I don’t relate well to all the form and formalities you have outlined with the Catholic faith…. and I find it hard to see the “why” with all the scripted stuff. I admire you for wanting to give your kids a faith-based experience, but it must be hard on your heart when you have so many questions personally. I too wrestle with many of the questions (two of my four girls are severely disabled with little cognitive and physical abilities), but I know that we may not have answers in this life. Remember those inspiring words from our OACRS speaker, Peter Jensen… that the journey of wrestling and struggling shapes us – all is not lost when we doubt. Your words resonate with many others, and your determination to be authentic is noted. However you feel about God, I am convinced that He can handle your anger and your doubts…He gave us the ability to feel all emotions. And He does not ask us to deny our feelings or pretend to be anything we aren’t. You are a super mom, and I hope the work with PAL continues to grow and empower many more parents. Cheers, Sara Pot

  3. Hi Brenda, Your blog post brought back memories of Nicholas’ first reconciliation and first communion. I did the prep lessons for both sacraments at home with both my children. With Nicholas, I asked him, “Nick, are you sorry for anything you have ever done in your life?” “No!” he answered. “Ok, what about when Dad takes you for a motor boat ride for an hour and at the end, you still cry that you want more?” Nick laughed and said “yeah”. I admit that I made him memorize (and we programmed in to his dynavox) “sorry for whining to my parents when they have already done everything for my fun”. So… he went in the priest for confession with his school helper (also a Catholic). When the priest asked Nick to confess his sins, he answered with his dynavox, “I’m sorry that the Sens did not win the Stanley Cup”. The priest gave him a penance of an Our Father and told him to hug his parents!

  4. Hi Brenda,

    Your love and devotion in this blog entry is beautiful and heartfelt . In fact, it brought me to tears, even before the end of the story. Your loss or questioning of faith is more than understandable. I lost mine for FAR less severe reasons.You are an incredible mother. You see the beauty and importance in things even when you question them. That takes strength and grace. You have done everything in your power to give your children wonderful lives and, I admire your deterimination (if only from afar). By no means should your sweet, innocent angel ever apologize. Thank goodness he has you and your husband as parents and protectors who recognize how completely appalling it is for him to apologize for anything at all. AOE, Stephanie Fulford

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