I woke this morning to find a new book on my coffee table — Rediscover Catholicism.
My mom was here last night. Just briefly. For a quick dinner before we went out to view Christmas Lights at the Botanic Gardens. She never mentioned it.
The thing is, I don’t need to rediscover Catholicism. I know Catholicism not only better than most “Catholics” I know, but better than most “devout”, “practicing” Catholics I know.
I have not only read the Bible regularly and in its entirety, I have studied the Catechism of the Catholic Church repeatedly and in depth. I have read many of the Encyclicals. I have read many of the writings of the Doctors of the Church. I have read much from contemporary Catholic authors. I became a Lector and Eucharistic Minister following my confirmation at 12. I taught CCD from that time until I was in my early 30s. At different points, I have been employed by my diocese as the Catholic student minister on my college campus and as a parish Education Director.
But I have never just agreed blindly with the Church’s teachings. I am a questioner, I am a researcher, I am a thinker. Certainly, there have been many points at which I have had to examine incongruities between my heart/mind/soul and the Church’s teachings. Sometimes I have been able to reconcile those and sometimes I have not.
But those variances cannot change the fact that the Church has been important to me, to my family history, my personal history… my individual identity.
And yet, a few years ago, I gave up Catholicism for Lent.
I gave up the regular practice, at least. I may or may not have given up Catholicism completely. I may or may not have given up Christianity completely. My own experience is that they are still with me and will likely always be. They have provided much that I appreciate and am grateful for, much that I will continue to hold tenderly within me and which will continue to influence the energy that I exert in the world.
Now what I try to reconcile is the space between being/identifying as Catholic and being/labeling myself as a “Recovering Catholic”. I don’t want to feel as if I am in recovery, the connotations of which are that I or my history is anguished or broken or unwell. I don’t want to identify with the anger and blame that so often come with taking that name.
And that is the purpose of this blog. It is about learning how to move beyond my roots of Catholic (and other) indoctrination and making the transition gracefully. About recognizing, exploring and expressing both my gratitude for the very real gifts of my past and my enthusiasm for the limitless joy of a chosen future.