An Open Letter to the Catholic Church
Dear Catholic Church,
I’ve been a Catholic since I was born. I made my first communion, confirmed, and then married in the same church. I said goodbye to my favorite grandfather and my mom at that church. That church was home. Maybe it’s because of my parents’ close connection to St. Pius, but no one will ever be as good a priest as Father Arturo.
I’ve grown and been through ups and downs since I last went to church in El Paso. Years. Growing up I was dragged there during my teens and helped out with Sunday school when I was in college. Both of my daughters are baptized in the church, but we don’t actually go regularly-despite the best intentions when Ava started religious formation last year.
And I really don’t feel horrible about it. Well, sort of. Hello, Catholic guilt.
I’m about to turn 33. I’ve seen four decades, and the times change. But the Catholic church doesn’t -– not really. I know it doesn’t have to, but sometimes change is good.
I have to think that there are lots of people like me that have explored the idea of a non-denominational or Christian church to get a real life application of religion and the Bible, not just the ritual that has been part of the church for years. Clearly change is an option, with the last Vatican the mass changed after a gajillion years (I still can’t get the hang of “and with your spirit”).
With this new Pope I have to wonder if we are getting closer to the acceptance of (or at least not the damning of) homosexuality. God says love everyone, right? Why can’t we just leave things broad like that?
So why won’t the church adapt and catch up to its more modern counterparts?
I’m not saying we should be watching church from the comfort of our homes or showing up in running shorts and a ball cap. A true Catholic does actually embrace the smells and the sights of the church. On some level, walking into a Catholic Church is comforting whether it’s been a week or a decade since you were last there. Actual presence evokes memories, for better or worse.
We are a technologically centered society. My Bible is on my iPad. I take notes on my phone and iPad, too. Some Christian churches encourage tweeting and Facebooking during mass. Why? The more the merrier. If you can share a pearl of wisdom that affected you, it might help someone else. The thought of taking out my phone during mass makes me terrified. I thought about tweeting from my purse even though I had nothing to say, just to be a rebel. Don’t worry dad, I didn’t.
Why can’t the priests break away from the traditional homilies and speak about real life application of the readings to life? Some of them try, but that doesn’t always translate. Being a public speaker is a tough gig, I get that.
More often than not, I don’t leave feeling fulfilled or challenged by deep, meditative, and thought-provoking sermons. I think that my generation wants and craves that. I need that. I hate leaving feeling deflated after the grand expectations of packing the kids up are nothing more than thoughts that played out successfully in my head.
My generation wants to be welcome, and we want our friends to be welcome, too. We want to talk, to think, to learn. I can’t go to bible study at 10:00 on a Tuesday morning -– I have a job. All of the Catholic Church’s activities are during the week. Why can’t we have bible study on Wednesday nights like other churches? To truly embrace something is to understand all about it. I have that thirst for knowledge.
I want to come home, I really do. So church, do you think maybe we could meet in the middle?