I'm sick of all this faith, belief, blah blah blah that my mother seems to have taken up. Catholics never cared about that stuff until the Protestants made it fashionable, or even worse, patriotic. As long as we understood the authority of the clergy and attended Mass every Sunday, no questions were asked. We didn't have Christian lingo like the evangelicals. We didn't even discuss Jesus Christ outside of church. Did my mother ever read the Bible? Not until I moved out. When I read the Bible as a teenager, she thought I was a little weird and wondered whether there were something more productive I could do with my time.

(I learned a lot from reading the Bible, as you may imagine. Catholics do not, traditionally, read the Bible. We never even had a bible that wasn't in Latin until very recently.)

Now when my mother asks me if I have faith and belief, what am I supposed to say? Suddenly she's decided it's okay and proper to ask direct, Protestant questions. It was easy to go from churchgoing Catholic to nonbeliever, because I barely had to put any thought into dismissing Jesus and the saints. I just had to reject the church. And the church has made rejecting it very easy. Especially for women.

What boggles my mind is that my mother doesn't seem to notice the attitude change she's undergone.

It's a weird and disturbing kind of brainwashing, in which she quietly readjusts her sense of what it means to be Catholic to incorporate these new concepts, and the transition is so gradual that she hardly notices it herself.

I've noticed it, though. And even though I've been exposed to a wider sampling of Protestant-talk and nothing she says is new under the sun, I refuse to pretend it's all right.

She wants to know if I believe?

Is she absolutely sure?

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