And why I’m not a good Catholic
I always feel the need to qualify statements like this with “probably.” Because whenever I use absolutes, I end up doing the opposite. Like when my family was living in the Midwest, and I swore we would never move away, until we up and moved to the Pacific Northwest. I learned my lesson.
But I digress; this is about my flawed Catholicism.
I grew up in a full-on, hard-core Catholic family. We attended mass every Sunday, I received all the usual Sacraments, and I attended Catholic grade school and high school. (Our town didn’t have a Catholic middle school, or I would’ve been educated there too.)
I grew up, got married — in the Catholic Church — and had kids. My husband isn’t full-on Catholic (he never experienced all the Sacraments of Initiation), but he attends Mass with me, and we (mostly) raise our kids as Catholics. (My kids think Jesus was a hippie, but that’s another story.)
At one point, I went through the whole “crisis of faith” where I questioned God’s existence and whether or not I even needed him to exist.
However, I eventually got the proverbial kick in the butt, and God pulled me up from my rock bottom. That was enough for me to ditch the crisis.
Shortly after our move to Washington state, we found and joined a little Catholic church that we have been with ever since.
But I’m apparently not a good Catholic for a number of reasons. I don’t attend Mass on the Holy Days of Obligation unless they happen to fall on a Sunday. (Christmas is an exception). I don’t regularly participate in the sacrament of Penance. (To be honest, I don’t remember the last time I did participate.) I don’t have the Catechism memorized. I don’t pray the Rosary. I don’t attempt to convert others to the Catholic religion. And I even occasionally eat meat on Fridays during Lent. Yeah, I’m definitely not role model material.
I like to think I do some things “right” though. I attend Mass most every Sunday, I receive Communion on a regular basis, and I pray daily (or rather, I express gratitude to God for all the cool stuff in my life, and ask Him for guidance on a regular basis. He might be my life coach).
But lately, I suppose I’ve been more concerned with being a good “Christian” than a good Catholic. To me, that means trying the best I can to pattern my existence after Jesus. (I’m an ardent fan.) It doesn’t mean the judge-y, holier-than-thou jerky image that a lot of folks seem to hold about Christians. Judging others, besides not being my job, seems like too much work anyway; I’m too lazy for that.
Jesus lived and taught a life of compassion, love, forgiveness, and acceptance. So that’s what I aim for.
I’ve been a member of the Catholic Church my entire life, but I’m definitely no expert on what is one of the largest and arguably most powerful religions in the world. The rules and regulations seem so numerous, and don’t they seem to keep changing? I can’t keep up.
After all of that, why do I stick with my church then? I have a few reasons.
I’ve been a Catholic my whole life. I’m comfortable with it. I like the ritualistic nature of the services. I feel for the most part, Catholicism encompasses all the good “Jesus” and Christian stuff that I like; I can take what I need and sort the rest out (again, making me a “bad” Catholic).
One of the principal reasons I stay though is because of my small church community in our little town. My family has been associated with this particular parish for over a decade and it’s like a family. Despite all the scandals and everything else wrong with the Catholic Church as a whole, our little community seems separate from all of that. We know each other and are accepting and kind to everyone. Our church is active in the community, operating a food bank for anyone needing assistance regardless of their religious affiliation, among other charitable activities. And they provided tremendous support and compassion when my family experienced a heartbreaking loss.
So that’s why I’m sticking around.
Yes, I’m a bad Catholic. But I’m not so bothered by that. Catholicism, like any other religion, has its rules and regulations for their followers to adhere to. And I certainly don’t judge anyone else on how they practice their religion, whether it’s Catholicism or something else. Follow all the rules and regulations you want. I just don’t run that way, yet I feel accepted where I am. I feel I can follow the teachings and lessons of Jesus while at the same time, enjoying the community and fellowship of my selected Catholic parish.