I have to admit it, I really hate being a Catholic sometimes. I love the Church, I love her as a means of salvation, I love that Christ founded her as His Immaculate Bride. I love her laws, I love her ways, I love her House, and that she holds within her the Body of Christ. But man, sometimes I hate actually living it out.
Its because I live in, and prescribe to, a culture that does absolutely everything it can to be comfortable. I spend countless amounts of time and money on my comfort. On my appearance. There is my hair styling products to help pump up my hair when it's gone limp, and the other products to keep it flat when its too full. There is the makeup to hide the wrinkles, and the zits and blotches. The concealer to hide the bags under my eyes. There are the girdles to hide the fat rolls. The perfume to hide the smell of sweat. I hide so much of myself, is it any wonder that I hate confession?
And then I walk into Church and am greeted by so many members of my society trying to do the same thing. All sending the very clear message..."Don't you dare judge me!" Not because there isn't anything blatant to judge in our actions and persons, but because we're 'beyond such things'. The same guy walking in front of me to receive communion was just bragging about his vasectomy at the boss's party last week. The woman over there with her two kids was offended when asked if she was going to try for more "Me? No way! I'm done and I've had 'them' tied to prove it!" But you'd better sit yourself down in the pew, pray up, and shut up, because I am 'above judgment'. Come on...Let's be honest. Being yelled at for judging a pew-sitter in the Catholic Church today is like being yelled at for walking into a strip joint and staring at breasts.
We sing these hymns as we sit there in our corpulent bodies "Lord, fill us". What for? Its obvious from our bloated fingers grasped in prayer, and our aching hips and knees on those kneelers, that we are overly-full. Or those great hymns of "Companions on the Journey" or "Bread for the Journey". Journey for what? The blind leading the blind in a prodigal path, slipping further and further away from Him who Is the Truth.
I pretend to love the Holy Family. I've even got myself convinced. But birthing babies in an animal cave? Raising my children in poverty? That's for Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. "Come follow me" was Christ's call. "To the ends of the earth Lord!" At least that's what I want to assure him of, and yet I can't even crucify my passions.
I look at the Saints in the Church. Here are the great men and women that God put into this world to herald the great Faith. And I know that for my part, I get in their way and drown out their message. Saints were people who suffered and they understood the value of it. They slept on boards, they watched their children get dismembered by lions, they were crucified backwards, forwards, and upside down. I know I don't stand a chance - outside of God's mercy that is. I feel it's suffering when I enter my "too small" house that's warm, lit, and has a working sewer system. These great men and women would die for their Faith, I feel like its death when members of my family no longer speak to me, because I'm just "too Catholic".
Then there are those modern day leaders of the Church. Those giants in the Catholic realm who stand apart for their witness. Padre Pio used to groan for the hordes of people who would flock to see him. Not because he didn't want to visit those whom Christ sent to him. But because the more Christ would show himself in the Padre, the more Padre would have to suffer for it. Do we really understand that? Did Mel Gibson? Did Bud MacFarlane? Did Fr. Euteneuer? No, and they fell. So, if these guys who are stronger in so many ways than I - God have pity on me and spare me, a sinner!
Why is abortion legal? There were 400,000 people who Marched for Life in Washington D.C. a few weeks ago. Did you hear anything about it? But 30,000 people gather in a square in Egypt and its flooding the news. So 30K are looking for the fall of tyranny in their country after 30 years, and yet we still tolerate it 34 years later in the form of abortion. Let's face it. Democrat politicians are blatantly pro-death. Republican politicians are pro-death, but will call themselves pro-life in order to garner your vote. We're being duped and we're allowing ourselves to be. The political system in this country is broken, elections don't mean anything anymore, no matter whose hands we're in, whether we're asses or elephants. If we're to be a moral and educated people, then why are we as a society so blatantly immoral, so blatantly uneducated? We need to vote with our pocketbooks, and yet we still fund organizations that fund Planned Parenthood. How was that McDonald's? Shopped at Target lately? If everyone in that crowd of 400,000 had withheld even one dollar for the day on these organizations, that might have been enough to turn us around. But again, we're comfortable with the fact that we can get together once a year for one more year.
We're a missionary country - here in the United States. And yet, how much evangelization for the Church takes place? How many RCIA classes welcome people from all walks of life, to make it as "easy as possible" to enter the Church? Yes, I went through the equivalent of this program when I became a Catholic. I know how it works. I never heard about the Catholic stance on birth control, on homosexuality, on the male Priesthood, I guess it was assumed I would understand all that as a former agnostic. And the problem now is that there are few Roman Catholics in this country. There are Americans in this country, who are trying to stake a claim in a religion that has become so watered down that the word 'catholic' could just be a common noun. God forbid that you mention the Magisterium. Scripture might be acceptable, but don't ever mention Tradition. "...and the rich man went away sad." "...many who heard this teaching were unable to accept it and went away." "Will you leave me too?" Not all who encountered Christ could endure what He stood for. And yet His Church is whoring herself to sell the treasure of His Body and Blood real cheap. It doesn't matter what you believe, just come. It doesn't matter what you live when you leave, so long as you warm that bench once a week while you're here. And when you're gone with the angels to the Judgement Seat, and you realize that what we've sold you is a bunch of malarkey, we'll assure everyone that you're in a better place. Did we forget that Christ did not come to save the world? He came to save souls, and yet we try to fool ourselves into acts of false charity in order to assure our salvation. "Thou shalt not judge" has become the greatest commandment, eclipsing "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, thy whole mind, and thy whole soul." When we love we come to know the other. How can we know the other if we do not judge the knowing to be true and right. By this new form of heresy, we're supposed to flounder around in the dark, keeping our light under a bushel basket.
Embarking on a journey of Faith starts only when the applause stops. Faith is lived once you stop feeling good about it. Charity counts only when it hurts to give it. Hope is gained only when its the only thing left that you have to cling to. When you encounter self and realize what a wretch self is...Hope is the only thing you can count on; hope for the mercy of God.
And this is why I hate being a Catholic. And this is why I'm starting to love it desperately.