Day 100 of walking

We are a people without faith and a healthy fear of God. Within the span of days we engaged in chemical warfare, missile retaliation, and a bombing during a Palm Sunday service. Then, today, a man walked into his wife’s special education classroom and killed her with a handgun before before turning the gun onhimself. Two children were injured during the shootout and a third one, eight years old, died from his injuries. What the hell are we doing?

People are often surprised to hear I’m Catholic. Faith and education, I’ve been told, don’t go hand-in-hand, especially not with a faith like Catholicism*. One of my closest friends (formerly Catholic, now atheist) told me she couldn’t believe someone as intelligent as I am still believed in fairy tales. Well, I do.

My belief isn’t easily acquired. I don’t walk around feeling #soblessed when my favorite song Christian pop song comes on, and not just because contemporary inspirational music makes me want to stuff my ears with bales of cotton. I’m naturally cynical, judgmental, and opinionated. I can be demanding and unforgiving and selfish. I am all the qualities, and more, that one doesn’t (or shouldn’t) associate with Christianity. In short, my faith is a choice. I choose to believe in God, and by choosing to do so in the absence of logic, He provides me confirmation every now and then that my faith isn’t misplaced. (Fitting, since I’m always right.)

 

* This sort of statement outs the person as one who has never tried to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a pope encyclical, any of the church fathers, apostolic letters, or anything else published on the Vatican website. Funny enough, this year I started educating myself more on Catholic doctrine. It’s been a natural search for more, not prompted by one of my famous personal challenges. It started with that demon book and moved on to How to Read Your Way into Heaven. The book title is ridiculous, but the content is great. It’s worth it for just the reading plan and book lists inside. The books I’ve read have all been excellent and, though it might pain Intellectualists everywhere, the more I educate myself on Catholic doctrine, the more I believe.

 

 

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Comments

  1. I’ve struggled with faith my whole life. My mother was a Catholic married a fundamentalist evangelical when I was young, so I grew up in those churches. I left when I was 18 because there was no room for a person like me who says I *want* to believe, I just don’t most of the time. I was in my early 30’s when I sat down with a priest and said, “I love Catholicism. I love the meaning behind things. I love the peace I feel at Mass and I want to raise my children in The Church, but I struggle.” I then proceeded to thoroughly list all my struggles. When I was done, he laughed and said, “And you don’t think God is big enough to handle that?” I responded, “If there is one, I’m sure He is, but I don’t know if the church is.” He replied, “Come to RCIA. Come to Mass. Do the work. We’ll let God work out the rest.”

    I still struggle. I still lean more toward thinking it’s a myth than a reality. I don’t feel worthy to receive communion often, but I also know the difference practicing faith (and it is a practice – I so rarely get it right) has made in my life. I’ve watched the joy it brings my daughter (my son is more skeptical) and I’m grateful for the priest who made room for me, who treated me with grace, and showed me that I didn’t have to check off all the boxes to step foot through the door.

    I have occasionally wondered how you can be so faithful knowing that you’re also skeptical by nature. I’ve been jealous of your ability to be both and I am grateful that you shared this post. I needed it. #soblessed Christians make me feel as if I’ll never be part of the club. When they say they just know and I should too, I feel as if I’m so how never going to be part of the club. Hearing someone else say they choose to have faith makes me feel less alone. Thank you.

    • Yes, it is a practice! That is what I have learned over the years. I am extremely suspicious of anyone who claims to do it right and have all the answers. (Because they don’t.)

  2. Interesting statement about faith and education. Catholicism has produced some of the great intellectuals of Western civilization as well as some of the great universities. All that is changing, I think (see: Notre Dame University), but there are still great thinkers out there. Do you read First Things? Great Catholic thinking.

    BTW, “The Benedict Option” is not a Protestant book nor is it Catholic. Rod Dreher is Orthodox but TBO is about preserving orthodox Christianity, as perhaps you have discovered. I highly recommend his two previous books especially “How Dante Saved My Life.”

    I confess to feeling the same way about #soblessed Christians. I’ve not run across that hashtag before (not enough time on social media, apparently) and it provided a laugh. I know exactly what you mean. I’m an Evangelical who left the Catholic Church in college, mostly over issues of soli scriptura. Perhaps that would not have happened if my 12 years of Catholic education had been about more than following the rules. Yet I retain a great fondness for it and I miss the liturgy and the church year. I’ve thought about it often but I find I can’t go back.

    I enjoy your blog. I hope you continue.

    • Yes, all the publicity I heard on BO was from Protestant authors, so I wrongly assumed he was Protestant. It was an interesting read.

    • I forgot to add, since I wrote my original comment as I was rushing out the door, that it is so funny to hear you say all you heard were the rules growing up! I’m assuming you didn’t grow up in southern California? I don’t know if it is our area or not, but my catechesis growing up seems so lacking in retrospect! I don’t remember any rules other than “be nice, don’t eat meat on Fridays during Lent, and follow the The Commandments.” I wonder if that’s the truth or how I’m choosing to remember it.

  3. Being a devot catholic has always been a fascinating aspect of your personality.

    I fear my English won’t suffice to explain my struggles with religion and especially catholicism in times like these. Europe is facing an undeniable islamisation of its countries with all the side effects well known. Everday we are seeing how it’s the clergy in particular who are standing by and watching all this unfold or who are even promoting our downfall with their misinterpreted tolerance towards the intolerant.

    I’m a former roman catholic and I spent eight years in catholic school – one major reason why I left the church, but above all since I was a child I didn’t believe. I just couldn’t. It was just weird stories.

    In recent years there were times were I contemplated joining the church again, rather for political reasons as a way of a statement than religious conviction, but the hypocrisy of this catholic church made it an unpossible step for me.

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