Catholics, I ask you:
“Where is your Passion, your energy, your, ‘glory to God in the highest’?”
“Where is your PDA for the Lord?” (PDA – Public Display of Affection)
When my husband left me alone and pregnant and scared, I suffered an extreme crisis of faith and thought about leaving the Catholic church. I spoke with people of other Christian religions and attended other churches. I didn’t want to turn my back on God, but I did not feel welcome in my Catholic church. Even in this day and age, as a divorced Catholic, I was an anomaly; people were kind and sympathetic but unsure of how to handle me.
There is no criticism in that statement. I wasn’t sure how to handle me either. I wasn’t sure of what to say, how to say it, or how much to say. Some days (many days!), I’m still not.
When I turned to those other churches, I was amazed by some of what I discovered. Mostly I was amazed by the pure, unadulterated
for Christ. Church members expressed true passion for Jesus. These Christians were still sinners. They were still imperfect. They were still making mistakes. Like Catholics, like all people, my new Christian friends were and are imperfect, but they were passionate in their efforts and that passion makes a world of difference. The discovery of that passion is one of the many reasons I am thankful to have gone through the pain, the loss, and the searching I experienced during my abandonment and subsequent divorce.
I remember one of the first services I attended and smile now. I had never been to a mixed-race, interdenominational mega-church before, and I sat in one of the cushioned folding chairs with my eyebrows raised and a bit of a giggle suppressed in my throat. To say it was very different from the quiet reverence of the solemn Catholic Mass just doesn’t do the service justice.
Those Christians were red-hot for Jesus, burning with a desire to throw their hands in the air and Praise Him. Tears would streak down the face of a church member during service and others would unabashedly put their arms around him or her offering comfort and strength, a physical sharing of whatever burden this soul bore. Bodies swayed in time to the music, and hands clapped displaying a rhythmic ability I was never blessed with. The pastor spoke as though his soul needed, NEEDED, to get the message out. He tied the gospel beautifully to the world today, shied away from no topic, and spoke with authority about how God lives in our daily lives.
And the next week I went back to my Catholic church and sat on the hard wooden pews and knelt on the hard wooden kneelers and looked around at my fellow Catholics and got to thinking about the other church and every Catholic church I had ever attended. While I know many heads at the Catholic church were bent prayerfully, reverently, while I know there are exceptions to what I am about to say, ask yourself how many of the following are identified with Catholic believers and why that may be so:
Catholics often bow our heads and mumble our way through the prayers. We ritualistically recite words thousands of years old and obediently attend Mass every Sunday. We leave the singing of ancient church hymns to little old ladies sitting in the pews in front of us and then snicker behind their backs when they sing off key (which is most of the time 🙂 ). We count the seconds of the priest’s sermons and then criticize him for not being a better, more comfortable speaker. We mock those who believe the literal translation of the Bible and Creationism as being old-fashioned and unrealistic because we blindly accept what we were taught in school rather than research possible misconceptions.
Now, I know this is being overly critical and that there are many passionate Catholics out there. I have met a handful in my 40+ Catholic years,
but they are truly a handful.
And, before my husband left, I too would have been among those head bowed, mumbling, ritualistic, obedient, snickering, counting, critical mockers,
and I would have called myself a good Catholic.
For some of you reading this, I may be, “preaching to the choir,” but for those of you who dutifully sit through Mass, please take a few moments to invite God into your heart, to move you to be passionate for Him and in celebration of Him. Think of the verbs you use when you describe yourself at Mass and in prayer. Look in the mirror. Sometimes that mirror returns a reflection that is not so pretty when the coverings have been stripped away. It is amazing that we see superficial beauty masking the ugliness we try to hide while God sees the true beauty in each of us despite the ugliness we cannot hide from Him.
I am ashamed of that ‘good Catholic’ attitude, but I am also forgiven for it.
With that forgiveness, however, comes my promise, my pledge, my unbreakable vow to my Lord and to my fellow man to live like that no more!
I must take a greater effort to learn about the faith which I am now realizing I know so little about, to joyfully and loudly proclaim my love for and gratitude to the Lord for all He has done for me and given to me, to celebrate, yes CELEBRATE, the sacred beauty of the Mass and the Joy and Hope and Promise and Love that we receive in the holy Eucharist, and to live that passion, joy, hope, promise, and love in all my thoughts and in all my words and in all that I do.
This does not mean that I must throw my hands up in the midst of the priests sermon and shout, “Hallelujah Father!” (Although sometimes I think I’d like to give it a shot just to see what would happen! 😉 ), but it does mean that I can no longer sit back and be content that I am a good enough Catholic. There is no such thing as good enough when it comes to God. We can never be good enough for Him, but we are not supposed to use that as an excuse to be blase either, and a good enough Catholic is a blase Catholic.
I want to be a passionate Catholic instead. I understand the Catholic Mass is set up differently from the non-denominational and other Christian churches, but there is still room for celebrating our faith. Please join me tomorrow as I look at just some of the reasons Catholics can be passionate about their faith.