“There is someone I love, even though I don’t approve of what he does. There is someone I accept, though some of his thoughts and actions revolt me. There is someone I forgive, though he hurts the people I love the most. That person is me.”
– C.S. Lewis
I know I am not exactly the Catholic Church’s cup of tea. I’ve sort of skirted around the issue of being an unwed mother and receive communion even though I’m aware of “rules” against this. I often wonder what the people in my parish think about me and my sons, since I never offered up any explanation regarding their father, but then I think no one could possibly be that interested in the three of us and our life story. We show up, we participate in religious education, we volunteered for the living stations of the cross, we talk about God and Jesus in our house, and in general, we try to be good Christians. How bad could we be?
Except that today during mass, I was reminded of how much I disagree with certain “rules” that the Catholic Church continues to uphold as valid. I was reminded that at the end of the day, the Catholic Church is ready to send me to hell without passing Go or collecting $200. I was reminded that by being an ostrich, I am actually being a hypocrite. And this does not sit well with me.
I want my children to grow up to know and love God and Jesus and since the Catholic Church was where I learned to do this, it seemed natural to do the same for my children. But can I raise my children within a church community that believes two human beings in love should not be allowed to get married if they choose? A church that is teaching them to believe certain human beings do not have the right to love and marry whomever they want?
Yes, I see the irony that I until now I didn’t have a problem raising my children in a church that has rules against people like me, but it offends me that the church believes homosexuals shouldn’t be allowed to marry. I guess I figured it would be a long time before the boys were faced with a lesson in church specifying their mother should probably be stoned and hoped by the time they realized it, they will have formed their own relationship with Jesus and it would be just like mine and it would be all good. Naive? Possibly.
To be fair to my self and my sensibilities, there were a couple of other times where I questioned whether I was doing the right thing by continuing to go to a Catholic church. Like when my cousin, one of the most Christian people I know, married a divorced Jewish man and was told that she couldn’t receive communion until his previous marriage was annulled because she was “technically” an adulteress.
What?! Ridiculous. But then, so much of what is done in the name of God is not only ridiculous, but downright abhorrent. Not just in the Catholic religion, but in all religions. That can be for another post, though.
Here’s the thing: God was pretty clear about what he expected of us. Love each other and love him. Don’t kill people. Don’t take their stuff. Make time for God. Honor your parents. Be happy with what you have and don’t desire what someone else has.
We are all sinners. Only God is perfect. He made all of us perfectly, but he also made us human. He knew we’d make mistakes. But I can’t believe that he thinks loving someone with all your heart and soul, committing your life to theirs, and serving each other and him is a mistake! That’s what he commanded us to do.
When I was a little girl, my mom used to call me her “good little Christian”. I think I am. I make a lot of mistakes, but I do a lot of things right too. I try to serve my fellow humans. I’m open-minded. I love God. I love my neighbors. I don’t steal, or lie. But apparently, I am not a good Catholic.
And the time may have come for me and my children to find a church that only teaches love and tolerance, kindness and service. Those were the messages that I learned growing up in the Catholic church (thanks mostly to the Franciscans). But I see now as an adult, what I didn’t see as a child and teenager, or perhaps that I purposely overlooked: there are rules of the Catholic church that I don’t agree with and which are contrary to what I feel I have learned from being a Christian. I do think the new pope is trying to make progressive improvements and reminding us what God’s true message is. However, the stances of the church on divorce, homosexuality, birth control, abortion, women as deacons or priests, and unwed mothers such as myself are what they are and don’t seem to be in immediate danger of being reformed.
It may be time for me to pick my head up out of the sand.