"Ready to share your reasons why you will remain with the church as the world increasingly bares its teeth against it?"
My reasons surely aren't anything insightful or wondersome and worthy but I'm sharing and there's worth in sharing.
*****My take on the question really isn't important. I know why I stay Catholic. There's no wondering as to the Why. I'm a MayMay now, past the stage of wondering who I am and my place in this world. There are so many reasons, it has become part of my DNA. There is no beginning or end. I simply AM Catholic...as my family has been since my first pagan ancestor (God rest his soul, whoever he was)
encountered one of the followers of Christ and was offered (and freely received) a mystery and some keys that opened doors to truth, wisdom, hope, and love in a world that offered none of these things.
When I talk to my 83 year old dad about religion and faith and I hear and witness how he grasps a belief system of a faith that has gotten him through a lifetime of everything, I believe. I simply believe.
Because I want that kind of faith.
No, I don't wonder about myself. It's in my children that I find my sense of wonder.
Isn't that so typical? Every parent reading this knows that sense of wonder I speak of. That sense of mystery. That sense that life continues through us and beyond us into something bigger than us. And so I wonder why my children remain Catholic and how it is that both my daughter-in-laws (her and her) and my daughter's best friend (recently) chose to become Catholic when it's neither politically correct nor popular to do so. It's the worst of times...and the best of times...to be Catholic.
But there are the continued trips into our small church with these three little men of ours and they are drenched in an age-old ritual, the spiritual significance which their newly anointed mommas might not fully understand and one which has taken me thirty years to appreciate but...still...they've stood there at the foot of an altar with a family of believers in faith.
A mystery of faith...yes, but who doesn't love a good mystery? God is a mystery. Do we expect anything less?
And sometimes that's half the battle. When one has toddlers and babies in a cry room perhaps it's a larger percentage than that. ;-) It's the staying power that teaches you to rest and listen.
Consistency is sometimes a smear away but they keep rebooting themselves and they keep seeking the answers to a mystery handed to them with a dangling of complex keys.
They cling to a faith that has stood rock solid for centuries. They question a faith that has answered the same questions long before they did. They commit to a faith that never sways in counseling them in their dignity as a person, a child of God and an heir to heaven and instructing them in what it means to be who God made them and their children to be.
It's the Gospel alive and flowing down the aisle of a small church in Louisiana and where countless prayers have been uttered for them...known and unknown, intentionally or not, whispered or sung, silent or spoken.
And it humbles me.
This self-offering of faith.
Afterall, that is the question...
I like to see this new generation as the face of the Catholic in the modern world. In a world that is defiant and demands society to Prove It!, they are proving that you can be part of today's changing culture and still be Catholic, not necessarily what mass media defines as Catholic.
My children and their children are the now-alive and present faces of Catholicism. They are not perfect and in many ways and for many reasons I'm grateful to show how imperfect we are and yet how our faith has blessed us and supported us and stood by us.
This Church is home and the doors have always been open. Christ is brother and his body receives us. Catholicism has been mother and this bride has always welcomed our victim souls into her protective and forgiving and restful sanctuary.
We are not the stereotypes the media has made us out to be but we are the people next to you...at work and school and gatherings...and we are not bigoted, medieval entrapped, crusty, prejudiced skeletons but, rather, we are your neighbors who love through inevitable change, embrace the teachings of older wiser generations, lean on morals that benefit a greater good, prays for a future we will never see, and peel apart onion skins to get to the root of who God wants us to be.
Because even while we all fall pitifully short...intentionally even...especially because we all fall short...we are the Universal Church.
And the Church is not only for today; it's for a lifetime.
As a Catholic in the modern world I refuse to allow the media to define my family. For the dog that bares it's teeth, I hope my children willing welcome him and feed him in hopes that he will one day see the true face of Catholicism. Or, perhaps, one day in the unthoughtof future, when he has no faith or no one or anything to believe in, he will remember that once in his life he saw the face of Christ in an imperfect Catholic family. And because of that memory he will no longer bare his teeth but smile into the face of God.