It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything here and there’s been good reason for that. I knew it would be difficult to put into words what has been tumbling through my life these past two months. Simply put, what I thought I knew-what I thought I understood and had firm belief in- started crumbling. I cried and questioned and prayed and had to come to a resolution. Was it easy? No. Is it going to be popular? Probably not in some quarters. Does it give me peace? Yes.
It would have been easy to ignore it, to sweep some things under the rug, and to just keep going…but I was never any good at pretense. I had to face the issues disturbing me one by one.
The central problem lay with the fact I couldn’t let go of my Catholicism. I experienced some turmoil and issues with The Church and left years ago (similar to when a child has a tantrum I suppose) I tried to put it behind me. Oh how I tried. I embraced my new protestant faith whole heartedly and had enormous respect for the leaders of the particular church I attended and wanted to learn. But it hasn’t been enough.
Being Catholic involves all of who you are-mental, physical, emotional, rational. At first, there were the small instinctive things that brought me up short. For instance, whenever I entered the protestant church, I had to restrain myself from genuflecting–acknowledging and being humble in the presence of Christ. Also, I was used to praying before Mass to prepare for the sacredness of the service and I could not. In the protestant church there is much socializing before their service, which is not a condemnation of who they are. It is simply a joyful part of their fellowship as The Body of Christ… but it was something I couldn’t get use to. Too, whenever there was prayer during the service; I had to stop from making the sign of the cross every single time: “In the name of The Father and of The Son and of The Holy Spirit” what could be more beautiful than to pray this way? Small physical things kept pulling at me.
Rationally, I had difficulty. Like The Roman Catholic Church, only males may serve in pastoral positions in the Protestant church I had joined. I felt very comfortable with that. But that is where it ends. In the Catholic Church “faith and reason” hold hands. You are encouraged to understand, to read, to ask questions, to dig deep and learn your faith. In that respect I am just a baby and boy do I know it. I’ve talked to quite a few learned Catholics who know the bible front back and center (and yes I know that tired myth that Catholics don’t read the bible…that goes along with the all the other sad myths) I missed that and needed that.
Too, there is the sense of rhythm in one’s life. A Catholic isn’t just Catholic for one hour-but for life. There are the Holy Days, Adoration (where you come and adore Christ,) the rosary (which is a meditative prayer on the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ-pretty cool to take time to think and pray about that in gratitude to Our Lord) There is the rhythm of time within The Church: Ordinary time, Advent, Lent, and Easter-time. We pray, we think, we learn, we give up, we celebrate…it is all part of who we are.
Yes, I am painfully aware of how some protestants feel about Catholics. I have seen Catholic churches defaced, heard ugly things said, and faced open bigotry. There are many misunderstandings and lies perpetuated. But it can’t change who I am.
I remember when I went to the meeting for my baptism and the person in charge closely questioned me about my decision to be saved. I almost bolted because I felt as if he were somehow doubting me in front of everyone. I left feeling conflicted. But he was right to ask questions-I don’t belong there and I am OK with that.
I do owe this church and the pastors a debt of gratitude. They were “helpers on the way” to getting me back where I belong. It may not have been their intention, but I believe God uses the people right in front of you, and God surely had some amazing people to deal with me. I have nothing but the utmost respect for these men. And yes I will always cherish my Baptism done by the pastor there. There is nothing more beautiful and more faith-affirming than this act. It changed me.
I am what I am…a Catholic through and through. The Church is made up of human beings who have stumbled mightily both in the past and in the present. When I am at Mass and hear the priest chanting before the consecration or hear an ancient hymn sung in Latin; I know I am joined with all the Catholics of the world as we worship and give thanks to Our Lord.
I know there will be frowns from some who are reading this and I will probably be dropped from some…I do hope not. I think the more informed we are of each other, the less misunderstanding we will have-even if our theology differs. Let’s learn from one another and have a respect for each other as human beings. One of my personal heroes, John Paul II reportedly said this: “What really matters in life is that we are loved by Christ and that we love Him in return. In comparison to the love of Jesus, everything else is secondary. And, without the love of Jesus, everything is useless.” Yeah..what he said. Peace to all who read this.