After spending the last few years diving into the depths of Catholicism and immersing myself in things like daily Mass, the Rosary, and other typical Catholic practices, I’ve come to a realization: I actually struggle a lot with the Catholic Church and so many of her teachings.
The Catholic Church tells us we have to go to confession with a priest at least once a year. Who are they to tell me that I have to come face to face with my sins and confess them to a priest? Just because the Church says I have to hear those words of absolution doesn’t mean that I want to say my sins out loud for another living, breathing human being to hear.
Stuck in Her Ways
The Catholic Church thinks she’s got all the answers and never feels the need to get “up with the times”. Women’s ordination? Nope. Artificial birth control? She says no, that’s not natural, and gets in the way of a holy marriage. Gay marriage? Nope, the Church teaches that marriage is between a man and a woman, regardless of what the law of the land or popular vote says. Pre-marital sex? Another big fat no from Mother Church, she teaches that even if all of your hormones are raging you have to wait for marriage to have sex, or else you are a sinner. She even teaches that other things (i.e. oral sex, “fooling around”, etc.) are off-limits outside marriage (and even inside marriage if the end result is not open to life). She gets to be a stick in the mud, no matter what is happening in the world.
Love My Enemies
Mother Church teaches me that I should love my enemies and pray for those who persecute me. She tells me I should pray for the guy who nearly raped me, I should forgive all of those who hurt me, and give my other cheek to those who scoff at me. While the Church might acknowledge that loving my enemies is hard, she doesn’t give me a free pass or a pat on the back, she simply tells me to love them anyway.
Not only does the Church teach that I should love my enemies, she also tells me I need to forgive others. That jerk who cut me off in traffic and made me spill my drink all over my new dress on the way to work? I need to forgive him? What about that ex-boyfriend that just won’t leave me alone, despite the fact that he’s been told to stay out of my life? I have to forgive him too? That family member who has caused my immediate family more pain and strife than words can tell? They need and somehow deserve forgiveness too? No wonder people dislike the Church, this whole forgive your brother not seven, but seventy-time-seven thing is tough stuff.
In the End
In the end I’ve come to realize that all of the reasons I (and so many others) hate/struggle with the Catholic Church are all of the same reasons I love her so dearly. Coming face to face with my sins, hearing them out loud, and telling them to another living, breathing human being is one of the most humbling acts on the face of the planet.
The issues she is a “stick in the mud” on? I love her for that, too. She is unwavering and holds fast to Truth like an anchor in the storm. The world may change its mind a thousand times a week on even the most basic issues, but the Church holds to truth and weathers the storm.Even though her teachings can sometimes be hard to swallow, I’ve always found that following them leads to greater obedience, greater happiness, peace, and joy. Loving my enemies and forgiving others is difficult, but oh-so-necessary if I want to see and love as God does. You see, the Catholic Church may be a tough pill to swallow, but in all of my struggles with the faith over the years, I’ve been invited and challenged to look within myself. Looking within myself I find that the very teachings and practices I struggle with the most are the ones I need so desperately. In the presence of God, in the home of the Catholic Church, I’m challenged to rid myself of pride, die to my own desires, and rise to His glory.
In the end I realize that I don’t hate the Church at all. In fact, I love her for challenging me and pushing me to holiness, even when I’m tired and the road ahead is long and winding. If countless saints have gone before me, walking this difficult road to holiness, then who’s to say that I can’t do the same?