I’m bad at being Catholic.
Did you know that I didn’t know artificial contraception was a no-no in the eyes of the Church until I got to college? Or that it would be more likely for a priest to get married before a woman could become a priest, and even that is highly unlikely? I didn’t know the Eucharist was the actual body and blood of Christ. I didn’t know people cared enough about Mary to consecrate their entire lives to her. I didn’t know anything about the Catholic memorabilia… the medals, the scapulars (I still don’t know what the heck a scapular is for), those bead bracelet things with pictures of the sacred heart or Mary or (insert favorite saint here) on them. I couldn’t tell you what my patron saint (Cecilia) actually accomplished in her life other than the fact that she is the patron saint of musicians. I didn’t know daily Mass was something for everyone until college. I didn’t know being a nun was even an option for me because I wasn’t 80-years-old yet. I didn’t know that I had to go to confession before Mass… that it was an obligation. I didn’t know there was such things as holy days of obligation.
I was a really bad Catholic. And I still am.
Even after studying theology for 4 years… I still feel completely lost. I still don’t understand my Catholic faith, and what it means. The only parts of my faith that I know and understand (aside from a new understanding of the Eucharist, which I now agree with after spending some serious time asking questions about why God was asking me to be a cannibal [God wasn’t]) from my childhood are that I was created by God, I am loved by God, and I am on a mission from God (much like the Blues Brothers, minus the fedora).
I have only gone to confession before Mass twice in my life. I will probably be using artificial birth control when I get married (and if you think a piece of rubber is going to stop a baby from getting born when God wants that baby born… you are dumb, I’m just sayin). I cling to the hope that one day, a woman will be allowed to be a priest, and a priest will be allowed to be married. I think a 50% divorce rate and little white chapels in Vegas are a bigger insult to the institution of marriage than sexual orientation. It is highly doubtful that I would ever consecrate myself to Mary. I don’t fall asleep at Mass anymore, but I still don’t always pay attention. My relationship with God will always be important to me… even when I am beyond rock bottom and am not even sure if God exists at all. I hope I will always be crazy enough to think that I can make a difference in this broken world in which we live… and that when I die, I will leave it in better shape than when I found it.
Don’t get me wrong. I may bitch and moan about the teachings of the Church sometimes, I may not agree with everything, I may not have a collection of scapulars and statues to adorn my house with… but I love my Catholic faith. I may not understand it… but I love it… and really, when its really love, how can you explain it? I know there is a place for me in the Church. I know God loves me just the way I am. And at my confirmation as a sophomore in high school, I was fully aware of the commitment I was making. I’m in it for the long haul. I will wrestle with these teachings until I agree with them, and if I don’t ever agree with them, I will not stop wrestling with them. I believe that God loves me… that God will not send me to hell because I didn’t go to confession before receiving the Eucharist. I believe that God loves you, too, and that is why I love you.
I believe God just wants us to be with him. I think God just wants to see us keep swimming towards him. And if I’m wrong… if God really cares that much about doing everything by the book and being perfect… then I’m screwed. But I don’t think I’m screwed.
So anyway. To all my fellow bad Catholics out there… hollaa. May you rest easy tonight knowing that I don’t think you’re all that bad, because I don’t think I’m all that bad. Besides, you and I were made in the image and likeness of God, and God isn’t bad. So don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.