“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.”
Throughout grade-school, I knew kids whose parents forced them to go to church school and quickly grew to resent it. As I got older and more people fell out of love with faith, I grew more enamored with the idea of it.
I find faith fascinating because ultimately I hope that people believe something, or not, that makes them feel comfortable each day. My faith is not defined by others. Pope Francis is the sole exception. His attempts at outreach and messages centering on acceptance make him such a crucial voice that I treasure. His work is inspirational every day and he is on pace to be one of the most dynamic forces the Church has seen in several generations.
Now I do have conflicts with Catholicism on numerous levels of policy and doctrine. However, I don’t let the culture wars define my faith. I revere Catholic tradition as someone who feels a connection to a higher power but still feels as though they are watching from outside the bubble. My sense of faith will never be as strong or visible as others I know, but it’s there. It’s there during the Christmas season, when more people are concerned with what Jesus would think of Starbucks’ red cups or why a public school doesn’t have a nativity scene on display.
My issues with organized religion revolve around the blatant hypocrisy I see in some of the people that claim to live in the faith. I know as many “bad Catholics” as I do “good Catholics.” These are people who lie, steal, cheat and are lousy tenants of the faith. And yet so long as they are on their knees in the pew once a week, once a month or even once a year and toss back a few Hail Marys while they’re at it, it’s as if they’ve never sinned at all. I take issue with that.
I come from two family histories marked by the presence of Catholicism. My father’s side is Irish Catholic, while my mother’s side is French-Canadian Catholic. That presence holds different value depending on who you ask. Some relatives are more faithful than others, some more expressive of their dedication than others. It varies.
Dangling from my rearview window you’ll find a crucifix and a small emblem of St. Anne. Her role in Catholicism is obviously important, mother of the Virgin Mary, but she also serves as the principal patron of Quebec, which gives her added importance given my French heritage on mother’s side.
Roman Catholicism is something personal to me, it is a vacuum experience. In an era of declining identifiable religion, I find it an interesting institution to examine for good or bad. And during the holiday season, it is the most important reminder to be a good person and respect everyone in your life.
Merry Christmas and God bless.