Hey, guys. How’s it going? I hope everything is awesome, and you’re re-adjusting swimmingly to work or school now that the holidays are over.
I know I was supposed to be taking a break from posting anything remotely controversial – that is, for the most part, anything political or religious.
But, spiritually speaking, I have something that’s been on my heart. Sidebar – how cheesy is that phrase? Having something on your heart. Like having something on your mind but it’s so emotionally charged that it’s weighing on your heart? It reminds me of this video, which you should really go watch because it is hilarious and accurate and it’s something light-hearted for you to enjoy before I get somewhat serious up in here.
So awhile back I wrote several posts that included words that expressed my frustration with believers, specifically self-professed Catholics, who “blindly accept” everything the Church teaches. A friend whom I love dearly made me realize that the times I said that, along with the rhetoric surrounding that proclamation, I was overly harsh.
Many of those who do indeed accept every single thing that the Church teaches have studied and prayed and discussed much of the doctrine in order to fully understand why the Church teaches what it does and have chosen to believe. and that is not only just fine, it’s also awesome, and, it’s their own faith and therefore their own business unless they choose to discuss it with me or another person. It is completely awful of me to attack them for it. And that’s true even for those who haven’t studied and prayed and whatnot – a person believes what they choose to believe, and well, that’s kind of their right, as a person.
I apologize to anyone who was offended by my words. Often I really want to stand by what I wrote on this blog regardless of whose feelings I’ve hurt, but I think maybe I overstepped on that one.
The thing is, I think at least part of the reason I tended to say things like that was because I was receiving a fair amount of flack myself, for being a Catholic who does NOT accept everything that the Church teaches. In particular, some fellow Catholics seemed more offended by my varied views, especially because I’m a recent convert. And well, that hurt my feelings.
It hurt my feelings for two reasons, the first being what I discussed above. My beliefs are my own. Even if I label myself Catholic, I am still free to choose what I do and do not believe under Catholic doctrine. I realize that the idea is that at confirmation you are publicly asserting that you believe in the Church and everything She teaches, and on a basic, general level, I do assert that very thing. I do believe that the Church as a whole, despite what some key members may say or do, is at the very least well-intentioned. (Maybe that’s a poor way of putting it; please don’t attack me for it.) But I also think we are not being realistic if we think a person can really agree to all of that at confirmation.
I mean, think about it. Most of those raised in the Church get confirmed in high school. No one at that age knows enough about their faith, the Church, or the world, to be 100% that they back the Church in every single instance. and in fact, really, at what age does anyone ever know enough about all of those things to say that without a doubt? Obviously that’s where faith comes in, and I know that’s the argument of many. But the fact is, I sort of agreed to believe in everything the Church teaches without knowing everything the Church teaches, as many other people also do.
Related, the second reason it hurts to be attacked for not agreeing with everything the Church teaches is that I’m not even close to being the only one. I’d venture to say that at least half of my own Catholic friends do not back the Church in everything, even if they’re not vocal about it. And there are groups like Catholics for Choice. And we know from studies that a significant number of Catholics have used or currently use contraception. So I’m clearly not the only one who professes to be a Catholic but opposes some Catholic beliefs.
Not only that, we know that the Church isn’t perfect. The Church as an institution has quite a history of being wrong. Again, I believe that the Church as a body of believers is well-intentioned, and tries to fix the things that need to be fixed once problems become apparent.
The other thing is that I’ve experienced this even before becoming Catholic, because I certainly didn’t agree with everything in the Lutheran Church either. and I had people tell me that maybe I wasn’t really a Lutheran, or even a Christian, because of it. Doesn’t that sound silly? Because how else did we get so many religions and denominations within religions other than because some people within the group decided that they didn’t agree with and believe in everything that the group as a whole professed?
Now I’m not about to go start my own religion or denomination. and not just because it sounds like a shit-ton of work and I’m too lazy for that. But more so because I believe that it’s important to have a community, and particularly a community that is like-minded for the most part, but still with a variety of belief. I believe it makes for richer relationships, richer experiences, and a richer faith.
So you can be Catholic, or Lutheran, or Mormon, or Buddhist or whatever you choose to label yourself, and you can choose what you want to believe under that umbrella, whether it’s every single thing that religion teaches or whether you just like certain parts. and I am going to refrain from judging you for it, or at least as far as my imperfect self can manage.
Yes, I am a Catholic. and yes, I use contraception, and I am both against abortion but still pro-choice, and I think homosexuals should be allowed to get married, at least under the law even if the Church doesn’t recognize it, and I’ve actually never been to Reconciliation, and yet I still receive the Eucharist, and I think Mary is honored more highly than she should be, and I don’t actually believe that Jesus is “the only way” to “heaven” nor do I believe in purgatory. and there are probably other things I’m forgetting. But I’m still going to call myself a Catholic. No one else can take that from me. No one owns the label/term/word Catholic, not even the Church, really. and even if it did, well, I was still technically confirmed in the Church, I have a document to prove it, and I haven’t been excommunicated, so I’m Catholic anyway.
and if anyone has a problem with my Catholic cherry-picking, well, they can take their anger and disdain and shove it up their own ass. It will probably go really well with the stick they probably already have up there anyway.