Hello my name is Sarah, and I am a practicing Catholic.
I say this a little tongue in cheek, but sadly, there is a little truth to the attitude behind this statement. In this day and age of passionate demonstrations and demands for acceptance and tolerance, it often feels like Roman Catholics are the one group that it is okay to openly put down and speak poorly of. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard blanket statements about the absurdity and awful nature of the Catholic Church. And I often hear people who were raised Catholic, admit to it hesitantly as if it is something they feel they should apologize for. Sometimes I just ignore these comments and sometimes I feel the need to defend myself and my faith. If I were any other faith and people said the things they say to me about Catholicism, it would be viewed as intolerant and ignorant. But, not so because I am Roman Catholic and there is for whatever reason, an acceptable societal prejudice against Catholics.
I am not going to go into all of my personal religious beliefs, but I will say that I don’t 100% subscribe to the old Catholic teachings of years ago. I believe in personal equality, freedom to marry and a lot of other things that would in theory go against my Catholic upbringing. But, I also don’t believe that subscribing to a religion or faith means that you have to give up your personal influences on those beliefs.
I do believe that religion and faith (whatever that is for you) is meant to challenge you, make you think about things, drive you to be a better person and give you a COMMUNITY of people that somehow POSITIVELY contribute to your life.
I too went through a period where I struggled with my faith and did not go to church. It wasn’t until I met my husband that I started going again because it was so important to him and his family. He introduced me to the parish at Mother of God in Covington, KY and it was there that I started to understand what going to church was supposed to be like.
The community in this church is truly like a family to each other. The people who attend the 11:30 mass there on Sundays (the one we regularly attend) are joyous and faithful. You see the same people every week. They come to mass because they want to celebrate God, the good in life and each other. It is uplifting to be there. And more importantly, in this parish and with these church leaders, I found myself in my own faith. I am able to pray and think through the complicated parts of life in a way that compliments my convictions and beliefs. Contrary to what I often hear about the Catholic faith, this community is accepting and current.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a community church like the ones that are really popular with my generation at the moment, it is still a Catholic mass. But, it does take the old traditions that are the foundation of the Catholic faith and brings them into a relevant presentation for the world in which we currently live.
There is a church in Florida, near where my parents live, that does this same thing. It’s a mixture of the old traditions and new applications to society, but above all else, the people are HAPPY to be there celebrating God and each other.
I am thankful that my parents raised me with the principles and structure that religion offers young children and I am proud to be continuing that tradition with my children. I do not think Catholicism is right for everyone, but I do think it deserves respect in the same way all religions do. Even within a specific faith, it is not going to be one size fits all, so each individual must find what works for them. Whatever religion or belief system you subscribe to, I only hope that it gives you a sense of purpose and drive to be a better person.
On a lighter note… since my children are still so young, mass is often a struggle of limbs, little voices and pretzel crumbs. I struggle sometimes to hear the prayers that are being said. Here are some of my favorite inappropriate for church child moments:
Meredith regularly announces (loudly) that she is stinky and needs a diaper change. She knows that going to get her diaper changed gets her a break from mass.
Last week, Meredith told everyone in the row behind us that they had eyebrows.
Today in church, she licked my face and spontaneously kissed the little boy in the pew behind us.
Nora got the giggles for no reason at the end of mass and could not stop laughing. We had to leave early.
When Nora was little she threw a teether 4 pews up, where it pegged an unamused older woman in the head.
6 month old Nora one laughed and yelled her way through a solemn funeral, which ultimately lightened the mood, but at the time was completely humiliating.
There are weekly stories, so if you want some Sunday mass entertainment, feel free to join us!