MY faith

I love being Catholic.  Now, I don’t know what it’s like to grow up with any other religious tradition, so I obviously can’t compare.  But I will tell you that being Catholic is cultural, at least in my family.  If I went to another church, or no church at all, for a few years, I feel like I would still be Catholic.  Like being German or being female.  Sort of.  I can go to another church, but I can’t undo my baptism, or first communion, or years and years of Catholic upbringing and education.  It’s so much a part of who I am, part of my life.  I can’t get through the spring without hearing “Ashes” on Ash Wednesday and “Jesus Christ is Risen Today” on Easter.  And eaten at least a little bit of fish.  🙂  I can’t have Christmas until I’ve at least thought about a wreath with three purple candles and one pink, and a white one in the middle.

What I love most about Catholicism is the personal history that it has for me, the way that so many things are the same in each place that I’ve lived.  And so many things are the same as my parents and grandparents have experienced.  The words that I hear in church are familiar and comforting.  I can meet someone for the first time, but if I find out they’ve also been raised Catholic, we have something in common, no matter where we each find ourselves now.

That all being said, there is a specific challenge I find myself with.  I don’t know of any other Catholics who experience this challenge, but I’m sure there are some out there.  My challenge is both being Catholic and having a relationship with my Savior.  As much as I love being Catholic, it is much more important to me to have a relationship with God.  I truly believe that God doesn’t care if I’m Catholic, He cares if I know Him, if I put Him at the center of my world.  If I’ve met any Catholic people who feel that way, they are keeping it a secret.  🙂 

Wait, let me rephrase that.  If I’ve met very many Catholic-raised people, I don’t know about it.  One, I do know a couple of people close to me who do seem to feel the same way I do.  Two, it seems like people who were raised in another faith tradition and then joined a Catholic church as an adult are really gung-ho about faith.  I suppose they don’t have that personal history quite the same, and they made the choice, where as I wasn’t given a choice for the first 16 years or so.  🙂  Maybe people who made the choice as adults belong to a Catholic church, but still are whatever they were raised, I don’t know.

Anyway, back to my point.  I have noticed that some people seem to put so much emphasis on obligation.  Going to church on the weekend because we’re obligated to.  Receiving the sacraments because it will earn us merit with God.  Receiving sacraments because it’s the time in our life when everybody does.  Judging other people’s faith based on how much we see them doing the traditional Catholic things.  Oh, and accepting something to be true just because the “Catholic Church” says it.

What is the first thing that little kids learn about God?  He made you because He loves you.  “Jesus loves me, this I know…”  Etc.  How did all that get drowned out???  I can’t earn my way into God’s favor!  I’m me, and He’s God!!!  But he loves me anyway.  His love and His salvation is a gift, no strings attached.  I am not obligated to Him in any way.  I want to do good things as a result of that love, to be one with that love, not to earn it.

As for the judgemental-ness…Pick a random group of any 30 people in the world, and I bet there would be some judgemental attitudes present.  Likely not specific to us.  🙂  As much as I don’t want it, I do have a judgemental streak as well. 

As for the “teachings of the Church”…It is a foundational belief of mine that I have a right to my beliefs and opinions, and you have a right to yours, and it’s perfectly okay if we’re not the same.  I think the “teachings of the Church” are an interesting and valuable place to start if I am wondering about an issue.  But I think the most important thing to do is to pray about it and find out what God wants me to do.  I very much doubt God wants the same thing from all of us.  Think about people’s lives.  Some people are meant to raise children, some aren’t.  Some people do very well with caring for one person at a time, others are meant to be solving world problems.  Personally, I have a harder time with the big picture.  I want to see one person, one situation, one small thing I can do to make one small change.  But I’m glad there are people in the world who see all those situations put together as one large problem, and know big things they can do to make big changes.  God is not asking us all to do the same thing.  Even the Ten Commandments can mean different things for different people.  “Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s possessions,” for example.  I might wish for a different body shape, and the person who has that very body shape might wish for mine.  We all fight different battles; God is not telling us all the same things.

Recently I had an experience of a fellow Catholic wondering if we as Catholics are Christian.  Excuse me???  Does the whole concept of Jesus Christ just escape her?  I wouldn’t judge her, it totally escaped me for the first 22 years of my life!

The bottom line is, I really don’t think God wants me to get so caught up in THE CHURCH that I lose sight of GOD.  God made me, human beings run every church there is.  No contest.  God is right here, with me, in my apartment, just as much as He is when I’m at church making the sign of the cross with holy water. 

Not that I’m going to stop making the sign of the cross with holy water.

To be continued…  🙂

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Doris
    Oct 04, 2007 @ 12:02:06

    I was raised Catholic and Christian and never thought that one faith tradition was more Christian or less God connected. God is the center of the Catholic traditions. I don’t know how anyone disconects God as savior from being Catholic or from being any other Christian denomination. I don’t know how you were presented with the Precepts of the Catholic Church but for me they are guidelines and intended to be used as that. The relationship I have with God would not be complete without the regular recharge of my spiritual batteries each time I go to church. I have went to other churches at times and do not feel the same recharge I get from Mass. I think maybe my public education gave me more acceptance of other religions than I would have if I had been schooled with only Catholic traditions. How could one be Catholic and not have a relationship with God the Savior? How could one be exclusive of the other? That is the part I don’t get>
    Doris

    Reply

  2. Trackback: my ever CHANGING faith « Dawn’s Place

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