"Bad Catholic"

So far be it from me to try to convince someone else there is a certain and right way to honor God. I can't even feel confident in my owns ways of doing so. Yet this woman felt very sure she knew what would put me on the straight and narrow path, and she was legitimately confused about why I, and people like me, were so hesitant to listen to her. I thought to myself:

Maybe it is because we know what we are is already not good enough for you.

If I ever felt for one second that God, or Jesus, or my pastor, or my Church community was not willing to meet me where I am and accept the path of my own personal faith journey, I would be out the door without so much as a pinky finger in the holy water font. I am very thankful that is not the case. I appreciate that my experience has been filled with role models and spiritual leaders, from parish priests to the bishop I listened to that night to Pope Francis, who emphasize the greater love of Christianity over the more divisive gray areas.

But I am still a bad Catholic...because I stayed silent. Normally I feel that maybe I should be a better representative of my religion by evangelizing my faith more. But on that night, I think I could have been a better Catholic if I had stuck up for those of us who didn't feel a part of that choir. I have a feeling there are a lot of us.

What I should have said in response to that woman was: We may not hold all the holy days of obligation sacred. We may not agree with the Church's stance on gay marriage. We may still accidentally say "and also with you" instead of "and with your spirit" because we don't go to church as often as we should (non-Catholics, it's a long story). We may not know which saint to pray to when we take a chance on a new hairstyle (by the way, it's St. Martin de Porres, patron of barbers. Thanks, Google!). And we may sometimes doubt there even is a God. But we try to live in a way that honors the fundamental teachings of Jesus, even if we stumble from time to time. And our praying may look a lot more like picking up dog poop in the backyard than genuflecting with folded hands. We aren't bad people. We aren't bad Catholics. And we're still a part of your family.

And no, Dad doesn't like you best.

church lady
I sense I've angered her.

I wanted to acknowledge a few fantastic posts on a similar subject that have led to or help reinforced many of the reflections in this piece: "Tell Me If You Think I'm Going to Hell" by The Boeskool and "Crisis of Faith" by My Ahas. I also want to give a shout-out to my former colleague and friend, John, who is a social justice teacher extraordinaire and often prompts me to have meaningful thoughts about God and stuff. John blogs about things religious, musical, and religiously musical at brokenfishblog.

Originally published on www.areyoufinishedyet.com.

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