I was thinking tonight about how much I've put into revealing and lamenting my Catholic upbringing. I realize that in doing so I'm demonstrating the very intolerance that I claim to abhor.
As such, I gave some time tonight to thinking about what I like about the Catholic church and came up with a few:
- Community: One nice thing I remember about going to church was seeing my friends and other families. To a certain extent the kids bonded to one another through the common boredom however at least for a little over an hour we were all pretty well behaved. I never saw fights or even arguments in the church parking lots. There was something genuinely nice about walking back from taking communion and seeing some people who I still consider friends.
- Direction and Hope: Even though it didn't quite work for me, I must admit that the church has provided millions upon millions of people with direction and hope in their lives. I'm certain that a lot of people, inspired by this direction and hope, turned out and around to help out people in need. Yes, I know a lot of people do it without it, but sometimes it just works for some people to do it with it.
- Some of the clergy were actually cool: I look back and remember a few Fathers, Sisters and Brothers who were super cool and made a huge impact on my life. It's a little hard to deal with the fact that the one who made by far the biggest impression on me (Fr. Michael Skelly) while I was at Marquette University, left the order. But while he was there he (along with many others) were very good to me.
- Jesus is a cool dude: My intro to Jesus was through the Catholic church. And despite the seeming near complete loss of what he was all about in modern day Catholicism, it's still the way I got to know him and I'm blessed for it.
These are just a few that I could think of when pondering it's impact on my life.
In the end, the single most important role the Catholic church has played in my life may be that it was the institution that introduced God to me in a way that didn't really work for me but because of that I am seeking a level of spirituality in my life that I may not have achieved had that not been my path.
One last thing I realized today. The pope....he's human. And so is everyone else involved in the Catholic religion. And as humans, we are flawed. But it's their path to deal with those flaws in a way they see fit.
I'm feeling like I'm near done chastising them for their flaws (of which there are NUMEROUS). It doesn't mean I won't point it out if I feel like it, it just means I'm close to done blaming the church for where I am today. They continue to help millions and many of them live lives that are worth aspiring towards.
You're just not likely to see me at Sunday mass trying to learn how to copy them.