If you were immoral, if you danced, drank or cursed, you were made to feel that God no longer liked you. And if you were moral, you were made to feel not one with Christ, but right and good and better than other people. These things were not stated directly, but the environment left me with this impression.
That sums up pretty much how I feel about my Catholic upbringing. I remember being in Cathecism classes and learning about the Sacraments of Baptism, First Communion, Confesssion, Confirmation. But, it felt very much like "You do this because of tradition." To this day, I don't understand why I was Confirmed nor do I understand what it meant. It was pick a Saint's name and declared it, now your confirmed. But confirmed what?
And that is my problem with organized (Christianity) religion. It gets so organized, the organization becomes its purpose rather than helping people develop a relationship with Christ. Not once in my childhood can I remember developing a personal relationship with JC. All I can remember is stuff like eating pizza at Mrs. Breaux's house with other kids who were forced to be there, too. Note, I'm not faulting our parents for "forcing us" to go through these sacraments. But, clearly, at the very least, I missed the point. Perhaps, I was unprepared and/or too immature to get it. I like to think I get it now.
I remember going on a few retreats while in high school. I don't remember volunteering. I doubt that many of us did. But, it was a requirement for Confirmation to go on these retreats. Furthermore, I don't remember any of the lessons we were taught. It was very "Breakfast Club" in that the very next Monday, I was still a brian the jock and the princess didn't associate with, despite the weekend of bondage...er bonding.
Where am I going with this? I don't think finding one's religion can be forced on anyone, even a child. You CAN raise them to me moral and prepare them to make good, moral choices. But, acting good isn't exactly the same as loving God. A person has to be prepared to accept Christ into their life. They have to be able to make a conscious decision to love and follow Christ. If that decision is forced upon someone, then there's something false about it.
You know, I've started and stopped writting this post a few times over the past week, struggling to find the right words to present my thoughts. Funny, how this same book sums up what I'm trying to say. It says, "It is a trick of Satan to get us to perform religious actions without meaning them." And, that's kinda how I feel about my Confirmation many moons ago. It has no meaning to me today.
I guess what I'm saying is that I'm glad (understatement) I made the conscious decision to follow Christ and, subsequently, be Baptized... um... again.