Some might think it odd that I still consider myself a Catholic when I seem to have such a difficult time practicing it. There's a reason why this blog isn't called "Catholic At A Glance." I must admit, that after 3 years, I'm able to wholeheartedly embrace many facets of Catholicism but there are still some that make me uncomfortable. For instance, missing Mass is an instant ticket to hell. Dying without the sacrament of confession equals all you can eat at the Eternal Burn & Churn. Birth control in marriage or divorce & re-marriage without Holy Mother Church's approval? Why, you're dancing with the devil. A Traditionalist will live in fear of violating the rules while the cafeteria Catholic will acknowledge the rules & choose for themselves what they practice & how they practice- based on logic & personal experience. I know I'm not a Traditionalist, so that must make me one of those dreaded cafeteria Catholics... the veritable scourge of Catholicism. Wouldn't it be better to just stay put in the arms of Holy Mother Church?
Holy mother church. I kind of feel goofy just saying it. Is the Church really my mother? Am I not part of one body with Christ as the head? 1 Timothy 3:15 says the church is the pillar & support of the truth. A good mother is that to her family. So I suppose the church can be a "mother" in that sense. But realistically, the "church" is us, in Christ, under Christ. To suspend one's individual ability to think logically in favor of deferring to a governing body called "Holy Mother Church" (overseen by a lineage of males, oddly) seems kind of foolish. Just because someone is a "mother" doesn't mean they possess the wisdom or ability to function as such. Not only that, the church has changed exponentially since Paul penned those words to Timothy. Who is to say Holy Mother church is fit to be my mother now? That's a question I can ask, but unfortunately cannot answer.
Part of me wonders if it even really matters in the grand scheme of things. Will Jesus look me in the eye on judgement day & ask me if I was faithful to the teaching of Holy Mother Church? Or might He instead care more whether I put God first above all things & loved my neighbor as myself? A devout Catholic might argue that doing those things IS being faithful to the teaching of Holy Mother Church. Maybe. But I've heard too much of "I don't have to worry about what to believe because Holy Mother Church has spelled it out for me". I don't think we're just supposed to turn off our brains & crash into the fray like happy little puppies in the sunshine.
I find myself drawing comparisons to the religious structure of Jesus' day. He was constantly blasting the priests & scribes for hypocrisy. He scolded them for making up ridiculous law the people couldn't keep... Jesus Himself "violated" the rules many times to connect with the poor, the sick, the scoundrels. I think Holy Mother Church has a tendency to split hairs over trivial things Jesus might overlook in favor of celebrating the humanity of a person... I'm inclined to think He might prefer logic over law... love in the moment over knee jerk condemnation. It seems to me He enjoyed presenting different perspectives on how to live life, perspectives that were sometimes deemed "scandalous" by the masses. He talked to women, touched lepers, ate with tax collectors, even called a selfish, thieving traitor like Judas a disciple. What does Holy Mother Church have to say about that?! We glorify Jesus for breaking the mold, but God help us if we dare deviate from the collective mind! It gets under my skin because there really is so much good in the Catholic faith... but there are also a lot of seemingly unnecessary expectations that tend to suck the life & validity right out of it.
On one final note, I'd like to remind readers (who might be tempted to pass judgement) that unlike judgement, "conversion" is never static. Belief, like salvation, is a process. I'm on a journey... Are you?