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Guilt Driven Attendance- Easter Sunday

Posted by on April 14, 2009

Easter weekend, a time in which we all get together with our loved ones to gorge ourselves on copious amounts of food, or at least that’s how it is in my family. Everyone gathers at someone’s home and an enormous feast is prepared. We all eat until either the food is gone or everyone is a few belt holes looser. The latter scenario is always the undisputed victor.

The Italian Easter feast is a tradition much older than I, but just as important in my family is the trip to Easter Sunday mass. Even when I went to church, umm, religiously, I found Easter and Christmas services to be absolutely hilarious in the parishioners’ scramble for salvation.

On Easter Sunday the “faithful” suddenly grow to 10x the church’s regular attendance, where often there are people standing outside chatting with one another like they’re at a coffee shop or rock concert. These are the people that would likely opt for a sermon podcast and delivery of the Eucharist to their door ala Meals On Wheels, if only the Pope would allow it.

Catholicism really seems to be the religion of choice for your extra lazy, “phone it in”, “just in case” Christians. Are these Catholics trying fool god?  If these people were employees they would have been fired before their probation period was completed.

For the last several years, the last place you could ever expect to find me is in church. I might venture in a few times per year, just to make sure it remains just as silly as I remember, one of these trips is always at Easter to appease my parents that I attend with the family.

My question, When did going to church become a unifying and family bonding event?

It’s my opinion that most families, and likely all children, dislike going to church. Most people, if religious guilt was not in play, would never attend church, ever. It is something everyone feels they have to do, or, blah blah blah, damnation, burning inferno, eternal suffering, yada yada yada. You get the point.

As I recall from my childhood, there were plenty of Sundays that went like this,

“Michael, we’re going to church in an hour, get ready”
“No, I don’t want to go, its sooooooooo boring, and sooo long. Can’t I stay home?”
“No you can’t, going to church will make you a better person. God is watching you”
“So can’t I just pray from home if god is watching”
“No, and don’t get smart. You’re coming to church”
“NO! I’m not coming”
“If you don’t come you’re grounded for a week”
“Fine!” (insert stomping, door slamming, and mumbled swearing)

After arriving in church, myself, my parents, and my brother would all sit in silence for what seemed like eternity and tried our best to not fall asleep (with my father losing the majority of these battles).

Bill Clinton Passed Out in Church

This hardly sounds like a healthy family outing to me, unless you are borrowing from the school of thought that misery loves company. Church as an enjoyable family experience is comparable to renting a movie nobody likes and forcing everyone to sit through the entire thing, every week. The down side is that movies are typically longer, but the upside is that you can wear your boxers, lie on the couch, and take periodic bathroom breaks.

I just wish people were more honest with their reasons for attending church twice a year and yet still referring to themselves as practising Catholics. Either you follow your religion, or you don’t. Its as simple as that. Don’t skip out on the regular season and show up for Championship. I’m just looking for some consistency. Simply tells us you attend mass twice a year because you’re scared you’ll burn in hell if you don’t, OR even worse, you’re scared you won’t be invited for Easter Dinner.

With that being said, surprisingly, I still look forward to Easter Sunday.  Aside from mass, the Easter holiday gives us a reason to get together, have a nice meal, and just enjoy one another’s company as a family without being guilted into attendance… well, usually. 😉

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