Sunday, September 4, 2011

“Suffer me that I may speak; and after that I have spoken, mock on"

I believe in working to increase sensitivity and understanding for the diversity we have in our country and in our world. I work very hard to do my best to be open minded and celebrate the various ways we, as human beings, find our way in and through life. Life is not easy for anyone. But it seems again that I am having to work much too hard to feel supported in return when it comes to my own chosen path, more specifically, my own strong belief in God and my devoted love for my own religious affiliation, the Roman Catholic Church. Quite frankly, we Christians (Non Catholics and Catholics alike) are too often being made fun of for who we are and what we believe. My disappointment and frustration in others brings tears to my eyes. They are tears of sadness and tears of anger, truth be told. Why must Catholics or Christians be such a common punching bag for others?

You have to understand. I’ve grown up hearing that others turned away from the church due to harsh treatment from nuns in the 50s or 60s or strict parents who made them miss out on Sunday skiing trips with friends to attend Mass. I listen patiently as others tell me of all the wrongdoings of leaders in the church. I hate such stories but I try to be understanding of such. I have been a bit of an anomaly to some, in that I have not strayed from the Catholic church in my 43 years. I remain humble but I regularly reflect on my life as a Catholic Christian woman and as is true to my personality (not necessarily my Catholic background), I scrutinize every facet of my life and work to “do better”. I know I am a “work in progress” and I try hard to be patient with myself, but I will probably never change and continue to be this way for the rest of my life. Some would be quick to call my way of living as oppression from that stereotypical “Catholic guilt”. But I don’t know. That’s just me. That’s how I am “built”.

I am tired, however, of hearing and reading of others who don’t extend to Catholics or Christians that same level of sensitivity, understanding, and open mindedness. I do not make fun of non church-goers, agnostics, or atheists, but more and more, I am feeling the effects of those who look at my belief in God or my weekly attendance at Mass as simple minded, foolish, and/or laughable. I realize that faith is a gift and that not everyone has received that gift and that I must be patient, but how do I continue to practice my faith while darting in and out of the way of those forcefully thrown daggers that continue to threaten all that I love and care about? Why is the way I live my life as a Christian Catholic woman so hard in 2011? And what hope can I have that my own children, as they grow to become adults and make their own decisions around faith, church, and being Catholic, will fight as hard as I have against the crowd to remain believers and devoted church goers, when their peers and the world at large scoff at them for being so traditional and old-fashioned, “naive” or “blind”? This troubles me greatly. Where are those fighters for the faith voicing opposition against the noise of the crowd?

This morning at Mass, Father Paul did not speak on this subject at Mass but he did make the point that our going to church gives us that help we need to live our lives with spiritual humanity and guidance. Just as we call a plumber for help with pipes in our house or an electrician for expertise in connecting power, our going to church gives us compassionate and educated guidance in making sense of our lives and our connection to God. I remember hearing from people that they don’t need that guidance in the form of a weekly homily given by a priest on Sunday morning. Well, okay. But I know one thing, I do need direction, help, and support.

No creation of Man is perfect, including the church of any religious affiliation. There’s always room for critique and questions of the Catholic church or any other house of worship. I accept this wholeheartedly. But I have to wonder what is truly at the bottom of the hearts of those who spend so much time mocking the faith and devotion of church goers, or those who enter church life. After all, every joke that is made in life, has at its heart, a sprinkling of insecurity. Does it not? How I wish I could somehow use both my gift of faith and my other talents to make more of a difference in increasing others’ acceptance of those who have faith and perhaps even encourage some to renew their own attendance at a weekly Mass at the church of their own choosing.

“Suffer me that I may speak; and after that I have spoken, mock on.” Job 21:3

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