Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Staying Catholic in the Church

It is an easy insult when arguing with a religious person, to say that they are "not being very [insert religious affiliation here]" because they are disagreeing with you vigorously. Among Catholics, we'll change it up a bit and say "you're not being very charitable," which always makes my skin crawl. I agree that sometimes people are uncharitable in arguments, but bringing it up at that time rarely does much to turn it around. (besides, if you can't argue on facts and get your feelings hurt too easily, then don't get into arguments with me people!)

This week, I have witnessed three instances of outright rudeness to church personnel over what amounts to a petty disagreement. Verbal cruelty, cursing, raised voices - like an argument between my parents before they became Catholic! (just kidding, Mom, just kidding) It was something of a shock. I'm a convert; I've never worked in a parish or even belonged to one before  (just Campus Ministries). I had no idea that this sort of thing went on; it took me several months (and many awkward conversations) for me to realize that someone saying they were "Catholic" did  not actually mean we had a whole host of things in common.

I want to dwell on it; more than that, I want to talk about it. I want to talk about what horrible, nasty, rude people they are - how these are the same people who don't kneel at the consecration, won't staff the Adoration chapel, quibble over $5 extra when they own multiple homes, think that the Church is a democratic institution designed to make them happy, etc. I am furious, I am irate - and I am sad.

I love my faith. I love that my Church is big enough for everyone, and that no one has to be perfect although all are called to strive for perfection. "The Catholic Church is for saints and sinners. But for respectable people, the Anglican Church will do," said Oscar Wilde, with a wink no doubt. I don't want to be respectable in the sense of being inline with the status quo - I want to be radically in love with Christ, living a life of heroic virtue. I want to give without measure, even to people who are cruel to me or to my friends or to my Church.

This sort of love is difficult, but the Litany of Humility is making it easier. Tugging on Mary's mantle and asking her to pray for me (aka the Rosary) makes it easier too. I keep repeating to myself  "That others may become holier than I, provided I may become as holy as I should..." to keep my scrupulous tendencies in check. And I keep inviting people over. Hospitality is a wonderful way to love others, and it is a way that I particularly enjoy. Action must be the form of our love as much as prayer, if we are to take Christ as our model. I know that if I keep looking for ways to love, He will show them to me and I will forget about those other people - not in terms of not taking notice of them, but I will forget that their behavior can have any affect on me at all. I will realize that I can love them as much when they are horrid as when they are good, and I will care about their behavior only as it affects their soul and not as it affects my mood. I keep comforting myself with this thought: I will learn to love them if I keep asking Him to show me how.


  1. I love this. I love how honest and real you are here, which I realize is why you have a blog. :) It is something I struggle with a lot, too. Just because someone says they are Catholic, really can mean nothing. And, it is sad. :(

    Keep it up, love!

  2. Hello! I found your blog as I was looking for other Catholics. I am a newlywed too, and love the faith. Anyway, wanted to say hi, and I am going to become a follower :)

  3. Hi Victor - enjoy reading!

    Jen, I know you know what I mean...that's why we love each other so much! I hope I can come see you while you're down there.

    Hi Miss Mary! There are A LOT of great Catholics in the blogosphere, so keep looking around - we're here! Congratulations on getting married - isn't it the best? Thanks for following, and I hope to get to know you more!

  4. Martha, How long have you been Catholic and when did you acquire the ability to see into other people's souls? As an RCIA catechist of over a decade, I'll tell you that humility is the best kept secret in the Catholic Church. Unfortunately, most catechists don't model this during the process. Focus on your own faith journey, prayer and reflection, keep close to God and let him worry about the spiritual lives of other Catholics. You don't know their stories or struggles or how God is at worl.


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