The obvious differences about being a Catholic are the Mass, the Eucharist, the Traditions & the communion of saints. Its an old growth forest compared to the grove of newly planted trees I come from. Old growth owes part of its beauty & vitality to the sun & rain, but also to the rot below. Dead limbs, leaves & animals fall to the ground, feed the soil & make it dark, rich & loamy. At the moment, I feel like some animal who's wandered in to die...
Honestly, its not that bad. I'm speaking figuratively. I guess what I'm trying to convey is the realization that my weaknesses are worthwhile & necessary not only for my survival, but for others as well.
"...to prevent my becoming absurdly conceited, I was given a physical handicap—one of Satan’s angels—to harass me and effectually stop any conceit. Three times I begged the Lord for it to leave me, but his reply has been, “My grace is enough for you: for where there is weakness, my power is shown the more completely.” Therefore, I have cheerfully made up my mind to be proud of my weaknesses, because they mean a deeper experience of the power of Christ. I can even enjoy weaknesses, suffering, privations, persecutions and difficulties for Christ’s sake. For my very weakness makes me strong in him." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (Phillips)
Its my weakness that drives me to the refuge of the Church, but the not so obvious difference about being a Catholic is that I'm actually encouraged to die... One of the ways to do this comes from participating in the Mass. Everything points away from me & straight to God, speeding "death" if I heed it. The Sacraments of Reconciliation & Eucharist serve to accelerate the process. My weaknesses may be rank, but maybe God considers 'what is not as though it already were'; that is, because His power is shown more completely in my weakness, the stench actually becomes the sweet, rich scent of dark, loamy soil. Its the perfect place for growth.
To die is to gain... life.
For the moment, I can only say "It stinks, God!"
He says, "My grace is sufficient".
Like the frond of a new green fern emerging below this great canopy,
I am being born of shadow & light...