As a CBC City Coordinator, I notice that many attendees and Catholics become preoccupied with this question, “What kind of Catholic are you? Where do you go to mass?” Sometimes, we ask these question to understand what kind of spirituality another person might have. Other times we might wonder what kind of liturgy he/she prefers traditional/charismatic/somewhere in between. However, more often than not, I have noticed that this question takes on different meaning depending upon who is asking the question. On the “right” side of the aisle, believers usually ask each other if we believe in Catholic teaching regarding contraception/marriage/homosexuality. On the “left” side of the aisle, believers might ask each other about their beliefs regarding illegal immigration/care for the poor/racism. Sometimes, I feel like we use this question to gauge our ability to befriend or to date others (disclaimer…CBC is not a dating service!!!).
As a CBC City Coordinator, I cannot help but struggle with these questions. Why do we ask them? Why are we so preoccupied with sorting each other into these two groups? How can we better accept each other, create genuine friendships, will the best for each other, and accomplish all of this without judging each other for what we struggle with personally? Sometimes, I feel like I cannot do all of this. I feel like I cannot appease both crowds, and at different times in my life I struggle with both sides of the aisle.
What type of Catholic am I? When I am asked this question, I balk, squirm, and try to avoid it. My Jesuit education taught me to prioritize caring for the poor and vulnerable. However, there are times when I am not as compassionate to the poor as I should be. These days might include driving past that homeless person holding a sign on the free way, spending money on frivolous things, or choosing to sleep in on the weekend instead of volunteering in my community. On those days, I feel like a “lazy Catholic,” “in a hurry Catholic,” or sometimes even a “selfish Catholic.” Sometimes, my prayer life goes well, but often times I forget to pray. I become a “forgetful Catholic” or an “ungrateful Catholic.” Sometimes, I believe I am doing really well, and I am a “prideful” Catholic, at which point I bring more harm than good to the world. However, lately I have learned much about the right relationships with others/theology of the body, but there are times when I struggle to perfect these ideals and nights when fighting for them leaves me full of anxiety more than anything else. I am a “sinful Catholic” who has made mistakes. Some days I am a “faithful Catholic” ready to fight the good fight. Other days, I am a “doubting Catholic,” who struggles to see God’s love in a world full of sadness and cannot see the wisdom behind the Church’s teachings. In these days of doubt, I am a “trying to understand Catholic.” I am a “dependent upon the Mercy of God Catholic,” who knows that all these struggles are watched and tended to by a God who loves her profoundly.
I have to believe, though we may feel differently and struggle with issues throughout our lives, that we can all relate to the adjectives above. Sometimes we are all, “lazy, in a hurry, selfish, sinful, faithful, forgetful, ungrateful, prideful, and doubting.” All the while, we are all “trying to understand and dependent upon the Mercy of a loving God.” We all have our battles. I think if we are honest with ourselves, we have all doubted, struggled, and fallen into the arms of a God who will always welcome us home. So, I think it is important that as CBC, we welcome each other. Though our beliefs are important and sharing them is worthwhile, it is most important that we open our arms and hold each other in our lives, in whatever state we may be at that moment. When all is said and done, we are all profoundly loved. We are loved by the Lord, who gives us His Body and Blood in the Eucharist. This profound love, more than anything else, is what makes us Catholic. So, the next time you are asked, “What kind of Catholic are you?”…I hope that you respond, “I am the kind who is LOVED.”