I had a quick conversation today with someone very averse to Catholicism.
I mentioned my Lenten promises as an icebreaker joke. And she promptly told me that she grew up Roman Catholic and has since denounced it– proudly. She is not participating in Lent, no way!
I quietly listened, but was not impressed. I wish I had a better memory for the details, but basically she just said the idea of Lent turns her off to religion because it’s a sign of spiritual commitment.
I ask, what is wrong with that?
Next she bragged that her family has nothing to do with Mass! She seemed to identify it with control, as even oppressively controlling. She had been told by a parish that her child could not receive the sacrament of Baptism unless she had been a member of that parish for a year, I believe? Instead, she converted to Episcopalian.
I found her indignation immature. Like she expected the benefits of Catholicism for her children without anything in return, no sign that they would be raised in the holy tradition appropriate to those corresponding sacraments.
Today I realized how deep my Catholicism truly runs– and that I’m proud.
Usually I try to be impartial and understanding of anyone who isn’t religious or Catholic.
But today, I felt no empathy. I felt both defensive and proud to be Catholic.
Because being Catholic is not SUPPOSED to be easy or convenient. That’s part of the pride for us. It is an intense spiritual discipline. One that we choose. Many distance themselves in adulthood or go to a different Christian denomination.
I’ve chosen to stay.
To draw an analogy to Jimmy Dugan’s profession of love for baseball in “A League of Their Own,”
“It’s the HARD that makes it good.”
There is definitely a lot of crying in Catholicism! If you’re the type who cries– some do.
If you’re taking a hard look at your conscience, as we are taught to do.
And for me, crying is cathartic. I sometimes weep at Mass, or alone during Adoration. Or just praying by myself.
I know He sees them, and he hears me.
Those tears connect me to Christ, to my faith walk, to knowing He sees my struggle.
So today I didn’t talk back to this woman– I just listened.
And she revealed to me without knowing just how vital my Catholic identity is to me.