Saturday, June 23, 2007

On Being Catholic

It has lately occurred to me that many people, especially on the blogosphere, are under the mistaken impression that becoming a Catholic means that life is going to be better, happier and full of consolation. Being a Catholic means taking up the Cross; it does not mean enjoyment and happiness, unless one's happiness and enjoyment lie in sharing the Passion of Christ. As I told my atheist cousin the other day, I am not a Catholic because it feels good; I am a Catholic because I want to save my soul, and that means embracing the truth as revealed by the Son of God.

Being a Catholic means you must be ready to die for Christ. For Catholics in Nero's Rome two thousand years ago this month, it meant being burned alive at the emperor's garden parties. For my ancestors in Ireland three hundred years ago, being Catholic meant forfeiting their land, their homes and all civil rights. In Iraq at this moment, being Catholic means suffering murder, rape and exile. No, it is not always a fun, happy and enjoyable thing to follow the Catholic religion.

Today, I saw a Catholic woman on a blog announce that she will marry outside the Church because she is disgusted with the annulment process. Henry VIII would totally sympathize; he took matters into his own hands when his annulment was slowed up. We are all still living with the repercussions of his decision. The point is, being a Catholic means that sometimes you cannot marry the person you want to marry, when you want to marry them. It means not always being able to sleep with the person one may want to sleep with, at one's personal convenience, if at all. At times, being a faithful Catholic means NEVER being able to marry or sleep with the person one loves. It means self-denial and taking up the cross, which is why chastity and consecrated celibacy are among the highest forms of love and martyrdom.

So many people want the trappings of Catholicism, but not the inner core of suffering and sacrifice that must accompany true belief. As St Teresa of Avila said: "The battle will not last long, and the reward is everlasting." Share


Anonymous said...

None of the Saints had an easy life. As C.S. Lewis said in his book "The Problem of Pain", God does not look down from heaven and say, "And a good day was had by all." Only as a Catholic did I begin to understand the problem of pain and God's part in it as a process of purification.

Terry Nelson said...

Very good advice.

Marguerite said...

Very good post. It takes the grace of God to be Catholic.

elena maria vidal said...

Thanks, Terry.

That's for sure, Marguerite.

a thorn in the pew said...

Well said. I am sure I will die with many "whys" on my mind and I believe that is how God intended it.

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, dear Thorn, otherwise it would not be faith!