One of the things I bother with is this whole Catholic thing. I’ve hung my hat and made it my home, but the question niggles me sometimes: why stay? Why here? Why this?
There’s been discussion with all the Patheos Catholic crowd inspired by Tod Worner’s post about why he’s remaining Catholic. Tod was responding to the recent Pew Survey talking about how people are leaving the Catholic Church in a crushing wave.
Tod writes a lot of good things in his post, but he sums it up in a way that I can’t shake:
I am NOT leaving the Catholic Church because I believe that the Catholic Faith is true.
Yeah. I’m with him.
I’m not going anywhere.
To paraphrase a guy I really relate with: “Where else would I go?” (John 6:68)
This from the same guy who denied Christ three times, right after he was told he would and he heartily, loudly, dramatically insisted that he wouldn’t. This from the man who leapt out of the boat and swam to shore when he recognized Jesus. This from the apostle who was handed the keys and the responsibility.
Peter had style. And he was maybe a bit of an impulsive extrovert.
Didn’t stop him from begging for forgiveness and moving forward to the Truth.
If it’s all real, then hey, I’m in the right spot. If it’s all a hoax, then I’m still a better person for living it.
In many ways, my four-year-old gives me as good a model as Peter does. He doesn’t hesitate to hop in the car dressed as that day’s favorite superhero. He is going to take on whatever evil comes his way, and he has no fear. He’s enthusiastic and open about his approach.
I’ve been tempted to quit, to leave this whole bucket o’ fun behind, but then I realize that I can’t.
Aside from the familial pressure, there’s also the matter of the “reset” I get at every Mass.
Where else would I go?
There is nowhere else.
Every question I’ve asked, every answer I’ve sought, every appeal I’ve made: the Catholic Church has stood firm. Oh, there’s drama, there are problems, and there remain issues, but they’re at the level of humans, not at the level of God.
That’s all well and good, but really, what keeps me Catholic can be summed up in two words, my elevator pitch for Catholicism. It hasn’t changed in the five years since I first wrote it:
Healed from my selfishness and my smallness. Healed from my limitations. Healed from the pain that I’ve carried with me, the pain that I’ve gained in the last few hours.
Being healed frees me and allows me to see past my nose to the larger purpose of my life and the lives around me.
So many times, with the problems I face that are larger than I am, I realize that it’s not my problem anymore. It’s God’s problem.
That freedom releases me and allows me to look at myself in astonishment. Am I really letting go? (Not as well as I should.) Am I really trusting God? (Not as much as I could.) Am I really buying into the whole kit and caboodle?
When I first converted back to Christianity and to Catholicism, I used to have an image of Old Me meeting New Me. Old Me, that sarcastic know-it-all, would be snide and do a lot of laughing at New Me. New Me would, well, just stand there.
My image of that meeting has changed. I can see now, over the distance of almost a decade, that Old Me was mired under a burden of pain, much of it self-inflicted. I realize that Old Me was lashing out and keeping her distance from people as the only way she knew to protect herself from suffering.
I think now that New Me would simply hug Old Me, and I think too that they would cry together, long and hard.
Because however healed I am, I still need more. However much the wounds of the past have been bandaged and mended, there continue to be new hurts, new pains, new agonies.
I am no longer stranded amid all that hurt.
“Only say the word,” I say with everyone else at Mass, “and my soul shall be healed.”
Again and again and again.
Here I stay.
Why do YOU stay? Elizabeth Scalia’s put a call out to the Whole Big Catholic World.