I’ve been Catholic since the Easter Vigil this year and I already feel embattled. I don’t like to feel embattled, I like to feel peaceful, prayerful and calm. I know this is part of being Catholic, that Jesus was embattled, but I already lack the required amount of sleep needed to function sanely because of a wily two-year old and I honestly don’t think I have the energy. Along with feeling embattled, little flies of doubt keep buzzing around me like I’m the lemonade at a picnic. I feel challenged to explain a faith I just gained. First, I have Grandpa, “The Cheetos Loving Atheist,” sending me emails to make sure I am up to date on any controversy from the Vatican or as he calls it, “the church”. Next, I have the news blasting away about “the church’s” unfair treatment of nuns, gay marriage and holy leaks. When I look at all the comments to these news stories online, I see a long list of anger, disappointment, even hate for “the church”. Then I have my husband challenging me on what he sees are “archaic teachings” of “the church”. Mix in my own confusion and I feel like a very small pebble on the underside of a very dirty shoe. What a mess.
I didn’t know this when I joined, but I guess when you are Catholic, it is automatically your responsibility to answer for everything “the church” does. I’m kidding of course, but that’s what it feels like. Here’s the thing — I can’t and I seriously shouldn’t be allowed to as I would mix words and concepts into a giant hair-ball and end up crying “But I really do like being Catholic just ’cause!” with tears of frustration. Like I said on my bio for this blog, “I am constantly amazed at how much I don’t know.” What I do know is this, I am not in “church” to jump kicking and screaming into the political arena. I don’t think this makes me a hypocrite or a coward or even blind. I think this makes me like many other Catholics who come together to praise God, pray and help others within a beautiful tradition established by Christ. And I knew going in, If I wasn’t willing to accept the Catholic church’s teachings I didn’t have to be Catholic. This doesn’t mean I always agree with everything but I do try to understand.
It seems I am also supposed to defend how I can stay with “the church” after such continued corruption, poor decision making and mismanagement. To that I ask, if I have to leave every institution that is corrupt or mismanaged then what country should I live in? Where should my kids go to school? Where should I bank? Where should I work? “The church”, in reality, is not just high powered men in Rome, it is also all of us “laity” who are Catholic. I don’t know about you but I’m not corrupt (not to say that all high powered men in Rome are corrupt either). In fact, our small, seemingly insignificant actions mean just as much to God and the world- if not more. Unfortunately they are hidden under an umbrella of bad press. Where is the PR company for the Vatican anyway? Can’t they take some heat off us little guys?
It is my choice to do my part (as a Catholic) to act as a Christian within the world; to be loving to my neighbors, help those less fortunate and follow the example of Jesus within the structure of the church. And when all is said and done, if “The Catholic Church” also consists of me and you and that other guy in the pew… don’t we have a right to be cool with it? I think so.