Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Godmother- Part 2: Party Lines of Hell

My friend (who we're going to call Eve) called me again, last night, to talk to me about being her lil' one's godmother. I kept trying to explain to her that I'm an atheist. She kept replying "I accept that." I suppose that should've been my warning that she and I were not playing on the same soccer field, if you will. The conversations went something like this:
Me: Eve! Listen to me. I don't consider myself a Catholic. I don't even consider myself a theist. I would love to be the one charged with the responsibility of loving and caring for your daughter, but I cannot be her "Godmother" in the eyes of the Church.
Eve: I accept that you're an atheist. I know we'll have to discuss this with a priest.
Me: *thinking- ...and a bishop, a cardinal, and a pope* If you accept that I'm an atheist, then how can you ask me to stand in Church and promise to make commitments I have no intention of keeping?
Eve: I *accept* that you are an atheist. But, I don't believe you truly are an atheist in your heart of hearts. You're the best friend I've ever had and the best mother I know... you ARE a good Catholic.

Ah... that would be the rub, wouldn't it? I was slightly offended that she didn't "believe" that I truly knew my own "heart-of-hearts", but I got over it pretty quick when I realized just how desperate she was for this to happen. She practically begged me to have a conference call with her priest. THAT was fun! *rolls eyes* He was a very congenial man and at no time did he disrespect me. Actually, I think he had more respect for me, by the time we ended our conversation, than he thought he would have for me. The call started out with Eve introducing us and Fr. G (as we'll call him) inquiring about my theology (or lack thereof). He also inquired as to my "official status" in the Catholic Church. To which I answered: "well,...I was baptized, catechized, confessed, communized, and confirmed." Oh and... I also was married, and attempted an annulment, within the Church...just not to my current husband. Doh! However, I told him I "consider myself an agnostic-atheist and do not believe in the tenets of the Catholic faith." He prodded a bit more: twas' kind of fun. We discussed doctrine and my *HATE THIS WORD* "apostacy". DOH! He asked if I'd been excommunicated and I told him, "No. I just stopped going." Anyway, long story short: it was a forty-five minute conversation that ended with him suggesting that I attend the baptism as a witness, but not be her Christian Godmother. *works for me* I would be an "honored witness". LOL

Here's what was REALLY funny: at the end of the conversation, Fr. G asked Eve to let us (he and I) speak privately. I was torn by the compulsion to resist and, yet, curiously interested in what he might have to say to me, privately. I gave him my number and said he could call me. The phone rang almost immediately! He told me that he'd never met someone who (I wanna' get this down for posterity) "...knew so much about the Catholic faith, but was resigned to being an agnostic." He said he didn't condone my choice (casually left-out that he could have me excommunicated for it, but...I don't think he'd do that). He said he understood my concerns and actually applauded me for not taking on the job of being a Godparent. He then said, I SHIT YOU NOT: "I'm not suggesting that you lie to yourself. But, maybe you could find it in your heart to stand-up for Eve's daughter, as a Godmother, and help find yourself through helping her. I certainly wouldn't question your motives if you stood before me."

*jaw drop* Did he just tell me it was okay to LIE for appearance's sake? Dude!


Virginia aka Ginny said...

WOW! What a story. So it sounds like your friend is really holding out hope that someday you'll change your mind and forget about atheism. Gee I guess your just going through a phase...LOL!

erin said...

Whoa! Interesting story. The priest sounds...interesting. I'm not sure how I feel about him telling you to lie. I mean, I'm not a priest and I think it'd be wrong on the faith AND non-faith side to lie for appearance sake.;p

Fr. D said...

I don't think the priest was encouraging you to lie on the alter. I think he was merely suggesting that, if you stood before him and didn't confess your lack of faitth, he would have no reason to doubt your adhearance to Catholicism.

I think you should stand-up as a witness.

Riker said...

I know that it's likely going to be a long time before you happen upon my little comment, but I wanted to chime in with first thoughts upon your description of the priest's follow-up call...

Having known many Catholic priests (enough to have formulated a representative 'spectrum' of sorts) in my day, my 1st impression of him is that he was a rather street-smart individual that understood the intricacies of morality, and understood as well how the situation looked from your perspective.

Of course he'd have to maintain his position within the language of the faithful (as I have no doubt that he was comfortable with his faith), but I think he possessed the rare (among priests) insight that morality exists even outside the religious doctrine he studied. I really think he was considering the 'greater good' of the scenario, and in essence, suggesting that the invalidity of your Catholicism would be more than outweighed by the relief and true comfort your friend would experience by having you accept the role.

It would have of course been unpriestly not to include the clause about 'finding yourself' (in terms of relighting the christian fire) by assuming the godmother duties... but bet he said that confident that it would not be the outcome to expect... and I don't think he had a problem with it.