Warning: this post will undoubtedly piss people off. If you’re not in the mood, then please move along.
The other night, a group of my friends gathered to plan our annual outing to Picnic with the Pops. As I looked around the room, I realized that every single person there is a practicing Catholic. So naturally I brought up the recent Catholic campaign for natural family planning (NFP), just to get a rousing conversation going.
See, I knew that in that room full of intelligent, successful, kind and loving women, that probably 100% of them use or have used a form of birth control. And they are still good Catholics. I also know that most of my friends, if not all, believe strongly that loving another person has nothing to do with sexual orientation. Still, many of my friends attend mass every week, despite the Church’s position.
We joked a bit about the ridiculous speeches given after mass last week, where couples who use NFP got up and exulted its glories. Total bullshit in my opinion, and also completely unnecessary conversation with kids in the audience. Many of my friends were put off by the explaining they had to do to their ten-year olds in the car on the way home.
I told them how I had to “unfriend” my own church on Facebook because they make post after post that is completely opposed to my personal beliefs. I only “liked” the page in the first place because I thought it might keep me up to date on what’s happening at my church–you know, clothing drives, church picnics, that sort of useful stuff. I even like the weekly prayers they send to my email inbox. So why all this crap on Facebook about how I shouldn’t have sex when I’m in the mood? I find it completely insulting.
And yes, I know “it’s what the Church teaches.” But I was taught (in a Catholic school) to think for myself.
What to make of this? How can I support a religion that is so obviously opposed to my core beliefs? I feel stupid sometimes, staying silent while I secretly wish I was Episcopalian. The problem is, it’s not that simple.
Catholicism has been woven through my life in both obvious and surprising ways. I attended Catholic schools, so of course most of my oldest and dearest friends are or were Catholic. There’s a comfort to that, a strange way–of knowing that they understand where you’re coming from. We joke about the Catholic guilt, but it is so real, I swear.
At it’s core, the Catholic faith is about reaching out to help others, even when it’s inconvenient or doesn’t fit your plan. It’s about joining together, to bring love to the world. It’s the same no matter what–a tradition of loving God. Even when we go on vacation, we can attend mass at another church and it feels the same. It may seem rote to others, but we find comfort in the sameness–of finding our fellow parishioners no matter where we may roam.
Nevermind that I walked out on mass in Hilton Head this year after the priest pissed me off during his homily on “religious freedom.” Nevermind that I had to explain to my kids that OUR family believes that anyone who loves another person should be allowed to carry out that love and have a family together.
It’s time to sign the kids up for CCD (Catholic catechism, not sure the exact acronym) again. So I’m telling all this to Angie, because I’m really struggling with how to raise my kids as both Catholics AND what I perceive to be morally just and truly kind and accepting of ALL people. Angie understands. We both embrace liberal, all inclusive, beliefs. And we are Catholic. So I ask her, “What is stopping me from just leaving the church and joining one that mirrors my beliefs more accurately?”
And then Angie said the most perfect thing and it all made sense. She said, “If we leave the Catholic church, then they win.” (they being the crazies). She went on, “It’s our church, too.”
And that is why I’m still Catholic. Because deep down, I still believe that the tide will turn. My God loves everyone and he doesn’t judge me because I want to have a good time, or I don’t follow all the rules. He only requires that I love others and treat them kindly. Which is what I’m teaching my children. And they can take or leave the other stuff.
So somebody start a “Liberal Catholics” Facebook page already. I have room in my feed now….