Today is Holy Thursday. I feel as if I have done nothing during Lent to prepare for Easter. Alas, it is not too late. I have decided to use my desire to put my feelings into words as my Lenten offering.
I am a Catholic. It's really getting harder and harder to own up to that. But I do believe in and have an enormous amount of love and respect for God. I'm sorry if that offends anybody. It won't change and I'll accept it if you don't share this belief. I'm sure you have a very good reason for your choice as I do, mine. About a billion of them, in fact.
I have had a Catholic education. The best four years of my life. I was educated by women who taught me to think, to accept, and to live a life in accordance with what I felt was morally right for ME.
I was not beaten into submission, tricked, or frightened into behaving. The fires of hell were not part of our curriculum My religious education paralleled that which I learned at home, mostly from my mother, a woman of great intelligence who also formulated her beliefs based upon what she felt in her heart and in her mind, not what any church or organized religion could impose. That was a great way to grow up. We were not "Sunday Catholics". Kindness and compassion were everyday lessons.
I am a Catholic by tradition. I did not chose to be one. I was born into the tradition and I am very tired of people making assumptions about what I believe, how I live, what I do in profession of my faith, and what other members of my organization profess to be true and righteous
I have known many people of many different religious persuasions and have never had one problem becoming a friend to any of them. It is and never has been my role to judge. It is my role as a decent human being, to accept others and to always strive for a life of meaning.
I don't always attend Sunday Mass. In fact, I only do if I really feel moved to or if I feel the need to play the good wife, accompanying my ultra-traditional husband. I probably would attend another form of organized religious service were I on my own. I often feel that I am doing something wrong when I profess that to him or his family. Hmmm. As I write this, I wonder where all my courage actually goes sometimes I am a people-pleaser after all is said and done.
Time has taught me that I am, indeed a believer, a highly functioning spiritual person. I resent things that get in the way of that. Oftentimes, Sunday Mass attendance does exactly that. Stopping into every church in Italy has quite the opposite effect and I pray. I pray often. I attend Mass. I pray to God. My prayers go directly to the one for whom they are intended. I've suffered one too many disappointment in the conduct of those who profess to know "the way" and I get more and more confused as I try to negotiate through all of that.
My veneer is wearing thinner and thinner as I read and hear of attacks on the "Catholics" as if we are stupid and unrealistic. I'm getting more intolerant of being thought of as a moron for my membership.
I want to stand up and shout....."Hey, it's not the Catholic Church that you should blame!"....It's the people who hide behind the pillars of the church and pretend that they have a responsibility to limit human rights, that they are above all reproach and are safe and sanctified because they have been confirmed when they were twelve young years old.
Listen - every organized religion has "rules". Every organized religion uses some form of scare tactics to get its members to conform. We're just easy targets because there are so many of us. We're not dangerous and we are not all predators.
I have one very special prayer for Easter. I pray with all my heart that in some small way, perhaps I can be an example. That I can be a leader. That I can influence people to do the best they can, every day of their lives. And, that if I do go down a wrong path once in awhile I will not be sentenced by a jury of Sunday Catholics. Amen.