Lately I have been feeling like a lot of people have opinions about us as Catholics but they never seem to actually come to Mass. Or at least not my Mass.
This all started when I was at www.califmom.com reading her blog. Her husband is dying of cancer and as she sat in his hospital room she prayed the Rosary. And one of her concerns was that she was Protestant and what would the Catholics think. And I read it and thought...Do people really see us that way? Do they really think we would have any issue at all with a woman whose husband of 20 years is dying taking refuge in the peace of the Rosary? Because I know any of the people in my parish would hand her their Rosary without hesitation. I just felt this deep sadness, first for what the woman was going through and second that she would even be worried about what people would think about her praying the Rosary.
And then on top of that I can't seem to open the paper without people endlessly speculating about what the Pope did and did not know about the sex abuse scandals. And even calling for his resignation! Like he was some errant city commissioner and not the spiritual father of over a billion Catholics. For him to resign means the Cardinals were not guided by the Holy Spirit when he was nominated and basically says that God has completely abandoned us. So I am going to have to go with NO as the answer to if he should resign.
So just to blow off steam I want to say what my Catholic church is like and what it is not like (despite what you may read in the New York Times):
1) We are a place filled with love. We care about the people around us and we support each other as much as we can.
2) We are not judgmental. We understand that sometimes we do judge because we are human and we fail in Grace but we do not see judgement of other people as a virtue. We do not see it as our job to decide if other people are less fit for God than us. We try to accept people as they are and if they sin we try to help them.
3) We love children. Children fill the Church. They are not assigned to classrooms so that the adults can get to the somber business of worship. In my Church they wander the pews and sometimes they are loud. But we understand that children are loud and that is okay. Everyone laughs, the priest speaks louder and we move on. Last Mass a two year old crawled into my lap. I thought it was funny and so did her dad.
4) We protect our children fiercely. We as Catholics have seen vividly that evil can fester in the midst of good. We have rigid programs to protect our children but still let them live a life filled with church activities. We have zero tolerance for the filth that infected the Church in the past. We failed in the past but we will never fail again.
5) We are a place centered on Scripture. Our priests see their job as explaining Scripture to their flock, not using Scripture to prove some kind of point. 90% of our service is based on Scripture.
6) The Pope is our spiritual Father. Anyone who has ever taken the time to read his books will understand he is a man deeply rooted in faith and connected to God. He is the person God chose to guide us through the current trials in the Church.
What is funny is I originally wrote this post right after Easter Vigil. Then I decided it was completely the wrong tone for Easter day! So I stored it away to post sometime later!