After three years together and almost one year of wedded bliss, Dear Husband thought he had seen it all, the parties, the talking too loud, the drama, the dancing and the weird food (morcilla, cow’s stomach, tongue, etc).
Little did he know that there was still more to come. To be honest I thought also there were no more cultural differences to be introduced to him, no more shocking family secrets, or customs I had to explain. I hadn’t taken into account, however, the ever expanding gap between his religion and mine.
Now, neither Dear Husband, nor I are religious. He was raised under the very strict codes of the Assemblies of God (whatever that is) and I was raised very leniently under Catholic dogma. That said however, our views of religion are utterly different.
I knew when I was little that not everybody was Catholic. That there were other religions out there that did not include partaking in communion, rosary praying or even Jesus for that matter. But I never saw my Catholic rites as something mysterious, hard to understand and almost mystical.
After Alfonso’s Death last Sunday my mom (a practicing Catholic) decided to offer his soul a Novena. For those of you who aren’t Catholic and didn’t grow up as I did partaking in endless rituals, a Novena means “Ninth” and is nine days of offered prayers. Usually they are done during Christmas time and others when there is a death and the friends and family offer nine consecutive days or nights of praying rosaries for the soul of the deceased to help him or her find the light towards his/her maker.
I have prayed many, and I mean MANY rosaries in my life. One cannot go through five years of Catholic School education without praying some rosaries. Again for those unfamiliar a rosary is a chain of praying beads that one follows bead by bead with “Our Father” several “Hail Mary” and a “Glory be the Father”. There are five “mysteries” in a rosary (Don’t ask me why they call them mysteries) but it simply means five sets of praying per rosary with one “Our Father” ten “Hail Mary” and one “Glory be the Father” per set.
Obviously the ritual is very repetitive but I always found oddly soothing. There is something about saying the same words over and over again with a group of people that eases something inside. Dear Husband, since he has never partaken in a rosary praying was agog at our “chanting” and my sister’s Patty’s husband (another American) was also utterly confused.
At the end of the first night of praying and on our way home, DH asked me what exactly the purpose of a rosary was. I tried to explain that it was a sort of guide to the soul for the afterlife and he didn’t seem to understand why our praying would make a difference over the direction of Alfonso’s soul since he, according to Catholic beliefs, would be judged by his actions in life and a meeting of friends and family should hardly make a difference to God. Now, DH was raised to believe that if you believe in Christ then you are immediately saved. So according to what he has been taught, Alfonso’s actions in life or our praying for nine days wouldn’t make a difference since Alfonso was a believer in Christ and therefore, good to go. I tried, my best, to explain that Catholics believe that believing in Christ sometimes is not enough to be saved and the things you do (the good and bad) in life are what will determine your soul’s destination after death. I tried to explain the relatives left behind during the Novena, act as advocates of his soul, showing God that even after death we cared for Alfonso and the prayers work as a statement, almost like a witness or lawyer, of what we think of Alfonso’s soul’s worthiness.
Then we shot off to talk about Purgatory and why Baptism is important and why in the world we have to confess our sins to a priest and all those other Catholic rituals that make sense to no one else but us who learned it.
In the end it doesn’t really matter since neither of us truly gives a damn about each other’s religion. It is not a point in common or a point against us in our relationship. It doesn’t matter to me which religion he practices if he did and he doesn’t care either if I want to be Catholic, Wiccan or pray to the God of Shoes.
I am, as baffled by his culture as he is by mine. I don’t understand ANY of the religious stuff his family practices. He teases me about molesting priests and I tease about his religion’s snake handling.
I guess no matter how long we are married there will be plenty of things for us to explain to each other and for that I am grateful, we will never run out of things to talk about.