Since moving to Houston, both my faith and my religion have been verbally challenged by others. I can name several specific circumstances this year in which I have been asked to explain and/or defend the Catholic Church’s doctrines and teachings on controversial issues.
Homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Divorce and annulments. Natural Family Planning (NFP) and birth control. Celibacy for priests. The Blessed Mother. The saints. Premarital sex. The Catholic liturgy.
Yes, I have been tested on what I believe this year, and I fear that my Catholic Christian GPA is nowhere near impressive.
As Christians, but especially as Catholics, we should always be able to explain and defend both our faith and our religion. I haven’t always been able to do that–and I’m sorry to say that I am still not knowledgeable enough to do so well.
It is always unexpected and surprising when you are challenged on your faith, something that is so fundamental to your identity. When we can’t explain ourselves or our religion, we look like people who have never “grown up” by challenging ourselves to assess what we believe. In my experience, many Catholics are known for their “cafeteria-style” faith or apathy. That is so, so sad to me! I don’t want to be one of those Catholics anymore. The Catholic Church, and the goodness and truth that God has blessed it with, don’t deserve my ignorance and apathy.
There is so much depth to Catholicism. I think that a lot of Catholics get scared or apathetic about diving below the surface of this religion. I have talked to a lot of people who have a “me and God. He likes me. I like him.” kind of faith. They are apathetic or dismissive of things like theology or sacraments.
Not that simplicity is bad. In fact, the basic message of Christianity and the basic relationship we have with God is gorgeously simple. But sometimes the line between “keeping things simple” and letting God grow you into the man or woman He created you to be–body, soul and mind–is very fine. And I don’t care if you’re 16, 48 or 87. If we ever think we don’t have more growing and learning to do, we’re seriously deluding ourselves.
In my own spiritual journey, going deeper has made all the difference. For example (and I have MANY more where this came from), I wouldn’t be waiting to meet one of the biggest blessings of my life in five weeks if Michael and I hadn’t had the courage to dig deeper into the Church’s deeply loving and respectful teachings on marriage and birth control. (On a side note, for those two particular topics there is so much misinformation and misunderstanding about what the Church really teaches!)
I love having this blog because I love to write about topics like this. Writing makes me challenge myself to let God keep molding me into the woman He created me to be. I hope that, in challenging myself through this blog, you will let me humbly challenge you to let Him mold you into the man or woman He created you to be. He has amazing, awesome plans for each of us, and part of that plan is letting His Church on earth guide and support us lovingly through our lives.
Read through that list of controversial issues I listed above. I promise that you’ll be surprised and blessed when you seek God’s will and His Church’s true teaching on each one. As for me, I pray sincerely that the next time somebody challenges or asks me about one of them, I will have an educated, loving and respectful answer that makes that person take both me and my beautiful religion more seriously.
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Houston’s Matthew Warner does a fantastic job of breaking down the Church’s teaching on controversial issues. Search through his Website, http://www.fallibleblogma.com/, to read his solid and respectful discussions on many tough issues.