I try to keep this column light. Even when it’s a serious topic, I endeavor to stay positive and optimistic. I don’t think I have it in me this month. We live in fairly divisive political times, and the web is papered with cynical political screed. You’re sick of it. I’m sick of it. I really don’t blame you if you want to sit this month out. Hey, scroll down a bit. There’s a cute picture of my daughter in a hockey jersey. If you’re sticking it out, strap in. I’ve got something on my mind.
The joy of Christmas has transitioned into the season of love. I’ve been thinking about that concept lately. I love my family. I love the Module. I love that I am Catholic. The thing is, I don’t know if I’m a good Catholic. Please allow me to explain.
I believe in Jesus Christ and His teachings. I believe that the Catholic faith is a direct link back to those teachings. I believe that no religion has gotten it exactly right, but that we come the closest. I believe in love and kindness, peace and humility, understanding and acceptance. Unfortunately, I also believe that my Church has forgotten some of these things. Standard disclaimer applies here. My views do not necessarily reflect those of the MYP blah blah release and save harmless etc. You know the drill.
The readings that I listen to in Mass paint the picture of a Jesus who welcomed those people shunned by regular society. He taught us that the most important things are to love God and to love your neighbor. Those two commandments are the most fundamental precepts of Christianity, and, thus, Catholicism. And yet…
While the Church would not officially endorse a Presidential candidate, how many of us listened to Homilies supporting a man whose campaign was built on a platform of xenophobia, misogyny, and vicious personal attacks on anyone suggesting he is anything less than perfect? This preference was likely based upon Christ’s famous ‘I know the best people’ sermon wherein he proclaimed “I have Apostles that you haven’t even heard of.”
All kidding aside, any preference for our now-President was solely due to the fact that the party of his affiliation is the self-labeled “pro-life” party. “Life” is here defined as a state of being which ends at birth, given that party’s affinity for war, arms, and capital punishment.
And this is where I take issue with the modern Church. I am certainly not pro-abortion, however it is not a hill I am willing to die on. To mix metaphors, it seems to me that ignoring so many other inhumanities of man against man in defense of one issue, even an important one, is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. And this isn’t the only such issue. There have been many cases in recent years where the Church has rebuked and even disavowed Nuns doing vital humanitarian work for the ‘unforgivable sin’ of (surprise surprise) providing contraception in areas ravaged by disease, famine, and overpopulation.
Life is precious. Life is sacred. Life is a gift from God. I’m sorry, but I cannot place the potential for life above the quality of actual, tangible life in areas which are suffering horrifically. This is a policy anchored in dogma. I seem to recall another religious hierarchy which clung to the letter of the law, punishing people for healing and doing good works when it violated the Sabbath, as if God was some kind of lawyer. Remind me, please, what Jesus thought of them?
I know I am coming off as being pretty anti-Church, but that isn’t actually the case. The Catholic Church does much good work, which far outweighs the bad. Pope Francis has been a revelation. A man of humility truly suited for his great office. And yet, there is a great divide in the Vatican. A chasm separating the entrenched men clinging to the old ways and those who wish to drag the Church into the modern age. This struggle will only grow with time. We, too, must throw our hats into the fray. The Church is all of us. We shape it as much as it shapes us.
I implore you, then, to speak up. Remind your Church leaders what the central tenets of Catholicism are. Remind them that Catholic means ‘Universal” and “All-Encompassing”. Remind them that we are a Church of love, compassion, and acceptance. Remind me, because we all need reminders from time to time. And I will remind you to embrace your faith. Speak out as Catholics against those at your social gatherings and on your Facebook wall and your Twitter feed who profess malice and bigotry. Tell them that there is no room in your life for hearts filled with hate. Remind them that you are a Catholic, and that means something. Let’s make our Church Catholic again.
I think I am a good person. I believe that I am a good Christian. I am proud to call myself a Catholic. I just don’t know if I’m a good Catholic. But I want to be.
Okay, I promised you a cute picture for sticking it out. This is Julia. She’s my little sweetheart for Valentine’s Day. She badly wanted this hockey jersey, and absolutely loves it. That’s my girl. I promise next month I’ll lighten things up again. Maybe I’ll write about the Coffeehouse. We’ll see. So until then…
It’s the season of love. Don’t forget.