I was thinking back to my elementary and high school years. The signs were there early on that I struggled with the whole faith thing until the moment of clarity hit when I was about 15 years old and doing the confirmation classes.
That was when I point blank told the priest that I didn’t believe any of it. I was confirmed Catholic regardless.
Part of that had come from studying the Bible in a high school religion class. Yes, 12 years of Catholic schools. During the class I continually brought up the numerous inconsistencies and the fact that St. Paul aka Saul of Tarsus was a misogynistic and homophobic bigot. Also played the part of contrarian a number of times because by this point I knew that not just a chapter or verse was pure bovine effluvia, but the entire book. Everything. It’s all a fairytale.
I could do the whole sit/stand/kneel/make the sign of the cross by rote memorization. Basically an automaton. Even now I still recall the prayers and all the gobbledygook required in a Catholic mass.
Another one, they should have known that something was up when I rarely went to confession. I especially never went to confession when you could do it face to face with the priest. Probably a good thing too, known what we know now I probably would have been abused if I mentioned to the priest that a neighbor boy and I were getting it on.
It got to the point where later in life when I’d be at a wedding or funeral, when the Eucharist would be trotted out I’d step up. My little point of rebellion even back then. Then of course they switched to where the priest would lay the host in your palm. A few times I dropped the fucker on purpose. Caused all sorts of commotion, they altar boy would sweep up the dropped host and I’d get a new one.
Didn’t matter if I’d sinned or not. I knew that it was a cracker and that it didn’t magically turn into the flesh and blood of Jesus H. Christ once it hit my mouth. Actually I knew it turned to a sugar since the amylase in our saliva has that effect on certain carbohydrates.
Once I’d moved out of the parent house I never set foot in a church again other than for weddings or funerals. Then again even when I lived with the parents after 16 I never went to church. They tried dragging me to Christmas eve ceremonies but I did it once and that was enough.
I just don’t have a religious bone in my body. They should have known. All the signs and portents were there clear as day.
My father figured it out though. I recall one conversation during a car trip when he point blank said “You never believed in God anyway.” Yep, right on the nose.
As I like to tell people the mistake was sending me to Catholic schools starting in the period just after the approval of the Vatican II accords. It’s when the church got highly liberalized, priests and nuns doffed their garments and habits for secular clothing, the theology wasn’t as strict.
Another thing, being that the high school I attended was a college preparatory institution they taught logic and critical thinking skills. As I’ve said many a time, a dangerous combination is religion and logic/critical thinking.