Bad Catholics, Unite!

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.

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Mardi Gras… womp womp.

The Resurrection from Grünewald's Isenheim Alt...

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So, whatcha doin for Lent?

That’s been a pretty standard question I’ve been asking many of my Catholic friends in the past couple days.  Whatcha doin for Lent? Because ready or not kids, it’s that time of year again… the time when the deadness of winter disappears and spring breathes new life into the northern hemisphere, and we Catholics acknowledge this paschal mystery in our 40 day journey toward the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I have a lot of things that I do not like about being Catholic, but one thing I do like is the 40-day Spiritual Olympics we call Lent.  It’s glorious.  It makes Easter more about the fact that Jesus saved our sorry behinds that one fateful day 1978 years ago (right? Am I embarrassing myself with my poor math skills?), and less about that fluffy bunny that bounces around and gives us chocolate and/or money (seriously. where did we get the Easter bunny from, anyway?).  Lent forces us to step outside of ourselves and figure out what is really important… like forgiving those who have hurt us (yikes), forgiving ourselves for hurting others (yikes yikes), and finding hope in all the shit we find ourselves knee-deep in.  I would hate to not be Catholic during this time… because we Catholics got it goin ON.  We are so hardcore.  We give up chocolate/coffee/TV/etc like a BOSS.  We torture ourselves for 40 days for the LORD.  And then, on that 41st day, we celebrate. We know what it’s like to lose something and then get it back.  Just like the disciples obviously felt when they lost Jesus and then found Him again.  We tapped into that like a maple tree.

Our 40-day Spiritual Olympics is obviously more than just suffering.  We fast in order to grow closer to God, we pray, and we give alms.  We live the paschal mystery every day in preparation for the actual death and resurrection of Christ.  We live, we die, we rise again.  We pray, we fast, we give back.  It’s beauteous.

So what are you doing for Lent?

What am I doing for Lent?  At the risk of sounding like I am broadcasting my Lenten promise for the soul purpose of getting everyone to think I’m this overly-pious weirdo, I am going to tell you because I am probably going to need someone to hold me accountable.

First, I am giving up listening to music in the car.  The only reason I will listen to music in the car is if I am not the driver… because well, that’s fair.  But I realize that between driving a bus and driving to and from the bus garage, I spend a lot of time driving around with the radio cranked, and that time could be used to grow closer to God. So. Silence it is.

Secondly, I am going to add a new blog post every day.  Writing has always been something thats made me feel connected to God, and I should do more of it.  At the very least, I want to post something I am thankful for every day.  The more the better.  But every day. I am horrible at these “every day” projects.   But now that I have said it… hopefully I won’t make myself feel like an idiot because I don’t post. So. Every day you can expect something from me. Even if it’s just a sentence.  A beautifully well-written sentence, of course.

Thirdly, I picked up an Operation Rice Bowl at church to start putting my spare change in to feed the starving children in Africa, or wherever the heck it’s going to go to.  That’s all I have to say for that. Pretty self explanatory.

 

Cool. So those are my Lenten promises… all out there for the internet world to read.  See ya tomorrow!

All My Single Men..

The Dating Game

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…Where are you, and why aren’t you at church? Seriously. I’m tired of looking around, finding a cute Catholic man at Mass, only to see a ring on his left finger. What the heck.

Furthermore, if you do not have a ring on your left hand, why the stink aren’t you doing something about it? I am cute, sweet, hilarious, and have way too much awesome for my own good. I am a catch.  Stop being stupid and start asking me out on dates.  Put on your big boy pants and do it.  

It is really frustrating to be single in the suburbs.  Especially when religion is a deal breaker.  Especially especially when the suburbs are full of young families, and attractive men at church are more than likely a giant mirage because they’re all taken already.  Especially especially especially when said attractive men at church are walking along so you smile and bat your eyes and then they start yappin at their 3-year-old to stop running down the hallway. Especially especially especially especially when they look super cute and then you realize they are in the seminary/already a priest.  Swing and a miss.

Pardon the fact that I am about to sound like a closed-minded bigot… but I want a Catholic man. I want someone to share that important part of myself with. I don’t want some frou-frou “kind of” Christian who goes to church when life sucks. I want someone who might be a little afraid to ask me out because he knows God is my Father, and if he read any part of the Old Testament, he’ll know how smitey God gets when God is pissed… but he’ll still have the cojones to take some action because God never appreciated laziness.   I want someone who will treat me like the princess I am (because darnit, even my name means “God’s Princess,” not that that has developed into some kind of princess complex or anything.. ahem..).  I want someone who will go out and change the world with me, and who will make any work God’s work, whether it’s bagging groceries or doing ministry work.  And if you are at church at least once a week… if not more… on your own accord, I’m pretty sure that that shouldn’t be a problem for you.

I mean come ON, man.  You might not be in the bar for some liquid courage, but you have the freakin BLOOD OF CHRIST in you. So what the heck are you doing cowering in your stupid church pew. Get the heck out and say hi.  You don’t even need to ask me out in the first 5 minutes. Just say “Hey. My guardian angel kept nudging me to say hi because he thinks your guardian angel is cute.” I will laugh, and I will be putty in your hands.

And okay. Lets say we aren’t at Mass. Say we are volunteering/at a discussion group/at a Bible study/at adoration/walking around aimlessly searching for our soulmates.  Say the blood-o-Christ is not coursing through your veins. Womp-womp. Man up. God is still present. And God is still a bigger confidence boost than booze.  And seriously… I am a church-going, God-loving young lady.  I am not going to embarass you if I’m not interested.  I know how smitey God can get when God is pissed.  I will treat you like the child of God you are.  Unless you are overtly creepy and make my “psycho man senses” tingle, I will not blatantly ignore you.

So DO IT. Just ask me out already. No more thinking. Just do. No more “waiting on God’s will.” You’ll be waiting forever you pansy.

Fortune favors the bold. The early bird gets the worm. Shit or get off the pot.  Just Do it. DO IT.

Who Do You Think I Am!?

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the Euchar...

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I was freaking out all day today about the confirmation class I had to teach tonight.  Last week didn’t go so well in the slightest.  I was really nervous, my voice and hands kept shaking, my face kept burning, and my mouth was so dry tumbleweeds were spilling out of it.  The kids in my class did *not* want to be there, and they did *not* want to talk about whatever we were supposed to talk about.  They looked at me like I had a second head, and I had a hard time not letting my awkward high school self shine through.  Seriously.  It was a hot mess.  So today I felt so much stress and so many nerves about my class.  I reviewed my lesson plan over and over again (even between the lines and in the margins).  I created a “Confirmation Class Contract” laying down my rules and expectations for my kids to sign.  I brought in my blue brain-shaped stress ball to use as a “talking stick” so we wouldn’t have everyone talking over each other again.  I wrote notes on sticky notes and stuck them on more pieces of paper.  Before Mass, I went in to adoration for a couple minutes and freaked out.

What if they don’t like me?  What if they think this is stupid? What if I can’t get through to any of them? What if I misrepresent You?  What if I get too nervous to speak again? What if I spent all four years studying theology in college to be a youth minister, only to realize that I am completely terrible at it?  What if I missed my calling?  What if??

It wasn’t a very pretty scene and I’m glad that only me and Jesus were in the adoration chapel at the time.  But then, in the silence of the chapel, staring into Jesus’s gigantic Host-y eye, He gave me a good metaphorical whack across the face.  He said, “Sara, do you seriously think I’d throw you to the wolves like that?  Do you really think that there is no reason you were put with that particular class?  Who do you think I am!?”

Duh.

First of all… it’s not about me.  Who cares if I look cool. What the heck.  That doesn’t even matter. All I have to do is be myself… because myself is who is teaching that particular group of freshmen.  There is going to be one or two or twelve of those students who are going to be affected because of me being the person God created me to be. Secondly…  I shine God’s love.  That’s what matters.  God takes care of the rest.  Even if they all look at me like they think I’m crazier than wearing flip-flops outside in a Minnesota winter… so what.  God is taking care of whats going on in their hearts.

Duh, Sara.  How liberating.  The responsibility doesn’t entirely lie on my shoulders.  I am just supposed to reflect God’s love in a way my freshmen can understand.  I am supposed to travel with them on their spiritual journeys.  God will use me however God will see fit.  And God placed me in that particular class for a particular reason, dang nabbit.  The ONLY way I can screw it up is if I go in there and say, “Hey. How about we toss those Bibles for a minute and smoke something illegal instead.”  Otherwise, seriously… it’s foolproof.  God’s got it.

It was a great feeling.  And tonight’s class went SO much better.  We got into a lot of great conversation about God’s plans for us, and we learned a lot about what the Bible has to say about leadership.  And we created a heartfelt covenant prayer that actually shows some beautiful thoughts about our roles as Catholic-Christians.

And maybe… just maybe… those kids left my class today changed just a tiny little bit.  Maybe… just maybe… that mustard seed has been planted.  Maybe!