I am a Catholic by birth and by design! I love going to Mass and I, especially, love praying the Rosary.
I wouldn’t call myself a staunch Catholic, though. For one, I don’t think there’s any such thing as a Staunch Catholic. You’re either a devout Christian or a lazy Church-goer. Secondly, I am too much of a free Spirit to be a “staunch Catholic” – that breed of pretentious boors who steal from the Project Sunday Offerings and say “Hail Mary” at every turn. Nah! Not me!
I remember my University days @ Mad.Uni.
Going to PFM (The School’s only pentecostal church) was fun. The worship session was off-da-hook and I was drawn closer to God at a time when I was spiraling down to unbelief (I nearly became an Atheist). I was depressed, in pain and off beat.
One day, while being chased by the female vampires and security men (in Madonna Uni, One must attend Church on Sundays), I stumbled across the PFM. To students, they were the “lesser evil”. No church warden or vampire (School Representatives nicknamed Vampires by Students) breathing down your neck and giving you the evil eye. A female pastor preached about the Holy Spirit as a friend and not just a higher being we ask to fight our battles. I was hooked!
No.1. She was pretty and possibly my age-mate. I was impressed, so I listened; HARD!
No.2. She spoke words of wisdom. I never thought of the Holy Spirit as a friend. In Catechism, I was made to understand, He’s that Being who guides and guards us. I remember Him when I’m casting and binding the witches charms, and when I want to take a journey!
Next Sunday and the next one after it, saw me at PFM. I joined the Foundation Class (Just like the kiddies’ Sunday School but for Grown-ups.), and took classes on God and His ways. I even had a crush on a pastor.
On Sundays, I usually woke up by 5am, was at PFM by 5:45-6am. Took active part in Church activities, joined the Welfare Department, became a devout Christian in my thinking and my deeds. It was a good experience, my soul was one with Christ. People came to see me as a “Pentecostal”, and frowned when I prayed the rosary. I rarely disabused them. It’s my life and I’m the Queen of it. Besides, revealing my “true faith” will probably get me expelled. The Catholics are that possessive.
I remember, looking up, one day, from my bible reading, during service at PFM, to see the Chief Security Officer, some security men and vampires, combing the canopies. They were singling out Catholics who attend PFM. Apparently, it was a big sin to switch faith in Mad.Uni. I was terrified – half, if not all of what was preached during that service was lost to dear 500-level-student me. All I could think about was how to get out of the mess if I am caught. But, as God will have it, everyone already thought I was a Pentecostal. Few remembered my Catholic Girl days.
I was conflicted. Do I quit PFM and go back to attending Masses? What if it raises eyebrows? Eventually, I decided to stick with PFM. Switching bandwagons at that perilous time of suspensions and expulsions wasn’t wise. In a way, I was like St.Peter who denied Jesus, 3x. Only, I was lucky I wasn’t asked if I was born Catholic.
Mulling it over, now. I don’t understand why the School Authorities did what they did. Were they jealous? Were they trying to curb religious “truancy”? Surely Section 38 of the 1999 Constitution was explicit when it conferred on all Nigerians the Right To Freedom Of Thought, Conscience and Religion? Are their actions justified?
I really have come to realize that the Catholics are a judgmental lot! They judge, judge and judge like Judge Judy! And they aren’t saints themselves.
I was in one of those unsettled moods of mine, when I decided to pay Christ Embassy, Trans Ekulu a visit last month. I was warmly welcomed and I sincerely enjoyed myself. They send me messages and call me to motivate me about work. They continually remind me that Christ is always there for me. In-fact, they called a few minutes ago, to ask if I’m alright since they ‘ve not heard from me or seen me since.
The Catholic Church I attend, on the other hand, wouldn’t notice my absence even if I got kidnapped. Yeah yeah! I know the congregation is much. But if the numbers were less, would they care?! Seriously! Assuming I’m the average member who doesn’t know the Rev.Fr or the Catechist on a first name basis, will I be missed if I miss two Sundays in a row?!
Many would argue there are societies and groups in the Catholic Church, one could join to foster unity and communications. I have joined a few and of all of them, Legion of Mary takes the lead. They are thoughtful, kind and caring. One flaw though, is, the judgmental attitude. You wear trousers and hang with boys, so you must be bahd. Uh huh! I don’t like that.
Whatever, we say, the truth remains that Catholics judge people all the time, when, like, Mary Magdalene’s “prosecutors” they are no better than the people they condemn.