Why I’m still Catholic

The news out of Pennsylvania is disgusting, inhumane, and fucking sick.

Don’t excuse my language. There should be no politeness in this discussion. No measured reactions. Only pure anger. Because would you doubt a loving God would feel anything else? Would he shift, and cover, and blame, and say “But have you thought of this?”

No.

It’s fucking sick.

And I’m still Catholic.

I am Catholic out of will, and out of force of habit. And at times like these, I deeply question why. Why should I align myself with such a deeply flawed and scarred institution? One that has ruined the lives of thousands?

I am not Catholic because of a priest. I am Catholic because of the people sitting beside me in the pews.

The ones who sat and shared with me, who taught and listened to me, who held my hands and encouraged me. The ones who dared me to live a servant’s life. The ones who pointed me not to a priest, but to a God.

While the priests might have been the men who transformed the blessed sacrament, these were the men and women who handed it, as well as my faith, to me.

And it was one of those men and women who I heard read aloud one Sunday morning,

“For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body….it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary.”

For too long, I have heard members of the Church defend it from its abuse allegations by arguing that we should be judged on the accuracy of our theology, and not the actions of our leadership. But it is people who hand us our faith. And people who destroy it.

The body is not our priesthood. It is the men and women who show up, day after day. To take dinner to the sick, to thanklessly host the parish picnic, to fluff a bride’s veil before she walks down the aisle, or to grab lunch with a friend who no longer attends mass because she just can’t handle it any longer.

It is the laity who gave me my faith. And it is the laity who can decide what kind of church we want to become.

Our country is wrestling with its own demons at the moment. As our president grows more erratic, and abuses like ripping families apart come to light, we hear a battle cry, “This is not who we are!”

But it is who we are. However, we can choose if it is who we want to remain.

I am Catholic in the same way I am an American. It is where I have found my home, and in doing so, I must understand that my Church’s and my country’s flaws are mine as well. This is a responsibility I’m still figuring out how to bear.

Be angry. Move forward.

Advertisements

Ten Cent Mysteries

Earlier this summer, my sons moved into the same room. I put their new bunk bed together piece by piece while they offered to help and the baby tried to taste test the eleven different sizes of screws. Their room still smells like fresh cut pine on warm summer nights.

About the same time, they discovered ten cent mysteries. Every night, they crawl into their beds and listen as dad reads to them. Frank and Joe dash around dark hallways, flashlights in hand and bad guys stay tucked away in the pages of books.

The youngest falls asleep almost immediately. My oldest begs for one more chapter every night. I whisper to my husband through the door that it’s already past their bedtime.

He reads them one more chapter.

My youngest child and his inability to resist the lure of his teddy bear and pillow aside, few among us can deny the pleasure of a formulaic mystery. I take mine set in English gardens, the village vicar catching the villain just in time for a cup of tea. My mom’s came with recipes for Death by Chocolate cake. My husband favors spies dashing from continent to continent.

We always know how the story will end. The good guy leads a life filled with adventure. The bad guy disappears, forgotten by the next serial. The trials and tribulations which should undoubtedly inflict at least a modicum of trauma roll off our heroes’ backs, like rain drops off of Nancy Drew’s yellow raincoat.

Sooner or later, my sons won’t want cars and trucks adorning their bedroom walls. They will be want to be driving them instead. My daughter will start climbing the mountains decorating her walls. And I will desperately wish I could flip ahead to the end, to know it will all turn out okay.

Right now, I can hear my son is bemoaning the end of the chapter to my husband. It seems as if every Hardy Boy chapter ends with either the phrase “fell unconscious!” or “appeared in the doorway!”

“Ugh, not again!” he whines. “Why do mystery book chapters always have to end with a cliff hanger?”

I feel the same way.

But good stories are a dime a dozen. There’s no reason ours can’t be one of them.

The Performance Review Stay at Home Moms Need to Read

It occurs to us that you have been in this position for some time and have yet to receive a performance review. We regret our delay in providing you with a review because we see that you have taken this task upon yourself. Please be advised, your self-assessment is entirely inaccurate.

Although you have received such constructive criticism as “You’re the worst mother in the world!” and “You should try my mom’s pot roast recipe instead next time,” we wish to assure you these are not indicative of your performance.

Yes, in the ten minutes it took you to rock your baby to sleep, your children did manage to dump out every single toy in the living room, dismantle the couch, and write “zoo” on the coffee table. But they are actually better behaved than you think. No, not at home. Certainly not at home! They are like caffeinated feral animals on the first day of spring break there.

But the fact they can let loose all their good and bad behavior at home suggests you have created a safe space. Plus, we have received feedback suggesting they can hold it together in public for increasingly longer periods of time. We predict that by the end of the quarter, you might be able to stop at more than one store while running errands.

Developmentally, your children are also making great strides. Yes, you might be concerned that the majority of your conversations center around poop, farts, and stinky faces. But, my what a vocabulary they have developed! Not to mention a complex understanding of the digestive system. And as far as writing “zoo” on the table goes, their writing skills are obviously improving!

We know you have encountered plenty of remarks along the lines of, “I don’t know how you stay at home! I would be so bored!” As if you find Raffi and Clifford the Big Red Dog to be stimulating entertainment for children and adults. We know that’s not actually the case. But we appreciate you fully immersing yourself in the business.

For instance, we have noticed even when you are off the clock, you are spending hours researching educational activities, from games which encourage reading, sensory development, and motor skills, to yoga that enhances their emotional intelligence. Granted, you spend way more time finding and preparing these activities than your charges spend executing them. And for this we admire your dedication.

You have expressed a concern that your cooking skills may leave room to be desired. We understand your children haven’t eaten anything that hasn’t been dipped in ketchup since 2015. But because company policies prohibit our employees from opening mouths and shoving in just one ever loving bite of carrot, your performance in this area is completely on track.

Of course there is room for improvement. We have noticed you are on your phone a bit more than recommended. And also you haven’t even attempted to match the socks in your “sock basket” for the last six weeks. But if doing so keeps you from just up and quitting, we fully understand. We do encourage you to take your vacation and sick days that are offered to you in our handbook. By that, of course we mean turning on the TV because of course you don’t get actual vacation and sick days.

We are aware no one has said it to you in a significant amount of time (again, our oversight, which we wish to apologize for), so we would like to issue you a formal thank you. You have given up your body, your former career, your free time to pursue this position for the betterment of not only your children but your entire family as well. And in doing so you have encountered plenty of criticism. But the critiques from snooty cashiers in the grocery store, internet think pieces, and that friend on Facebook who is obviously doing a better job at life than you, are not actually reflective of your performance.

You are raising kind, wonderful, curious children. We wholeheartedly thank you for your efforts. To show our appreciation, we would also like to offer you a ten percent raise. Heck, take a 200% raise. You’re worth it.