I work in a Catholic parish office. There I said it. I hate being out socially and having someone ask me where I work because when I tell them the conversation suddenly veers towards someone else or at best I get an, "Oh okay..." and the crickets start sounding really loud.
Let me first say, I am not embarrassed to be a faith-filled person, or Catholic or to even work in a Catholic office. What I am embarrassed about is many loud, critical Catholics in this country who have totally ruined my image. And what IS that image, you ask?
Well, let me make it simple, you know how Pope Francis smiles and loves people? That is the image I wish everyone saw as universally Catholic. I like to make people feel warm and welcome, loved by God and respectful of Him because whether you believe this or not, you owe God your life. He made you, you didn't spring up out of the earth all by yourself. He made you to just love Him. He really didn't demand so much, oh maybe those 10 Commandments which really are just good ways to live your life, don't kill people, just honor Him and show Him and others respect. These are 'rules' that are written in our hearts, by, you guessed it, Our Creator. You can travel to any country in the world and pretty much ask a person on the street what a 'moral law' is and they'll most likely say, "Well, you shouldn't kill people, take care of women and children, be a decent person." Those Ten Commandments are what make up being a 'decent person."
But these days it doesn't seem that being a decent person is what is being 'advertised' as being a Catholic. If you say you are a Catholic to some general person on the street they are most likely to associate us with Anti-Abortion, Anti-Gay, Anti-women doing anything.
I find it extremely sad, and horrifying that our Catholic faith has been summed up in a few choice sound bytes, not just by the media or social media, but by Catholics themselves who can't seem to talk about anything else.
Yes, I am Pro-Life, yes, I think marriage is between a man and a woman and while I work in a Catholic church and participate in many ways during the Mass as Cantor, sacristan and more, I do not want to be a priest. and yet there is WAY more to my Catholic Faith than any or all of those issues.
I also feel called to serve the poor by listening to them when they come into my office or stop me on the street. I help protect children by teaching them self defense, I help empower women by teaching them how to stay safe from rape and assault. I am a writer and I write articles not only about faith but self defense for women and children. I also go to Mass frequently to fill myself up with the presence of God in Holy Communion, to be reassured of His love for me in the prayers and readings. I teach young people how much God loves them and try to help them feel God's love for them showing them scripture readings that tell them this and having them help at our food pantry to feed the poor. I write newsletters to our teens reassuring them of God's love for them, I teach them to sing and how to enrich other people's lives with their service work. I love my husband, my children, my friends, my parents by feeding them, clothing them, telling them I love them every single day. I smile at the clerk helping me at the grocery, I laugh with the receptionist at the dentist. I also experience despair, sadness and days when I just don't feel like getting out of bed. Terrible things go wrong, loved ones die, I am lonely or afraid and wonder if God is really listening to my prayers.
All of that, ALL OF THAT is what makes me a Catholic.
Being a Catholic is walking in the footsteps of Jesus, with everyone in the world, not demanding they see or do things this way or that, but by showing them the Father's love for them so then they DO see why protecting unborn babies is so important, why God made us for creating and nurturing life, and why we must, like the lone leper who was cured, turn around and given Him thanks for everything He has given us.