Despite the fact that pregnancy has indeed been a restorative and creative time for me (and I’ve read a lot), it basically zapped my writing bug! (Not that I’ve had much of a creative writing bug in the past few years — I definitely give it all to work). Anyway, it seems like shorter posts will make it easier to write more, so I’m going to experiment with that for a little bit. And who knows, maybe that’s just what we all need to kick off better conversations: less one-way writing, more sharing. Let’s see how it goes.
If you’d asked me to sum up Catholicism in one word about ten years ago, it would have been something like “rules,” “fear,” or “control.”
Today, though, (besides the obvious words like “Christ,” and “love”) that word is dignity.
Before I re-converted, I drank the secular Koolaid about my body, my life, and my dreams: nothing means anything, so just do what you want and try to have fun on the way to being rich, successful (and, you know, tolerant and nice and respectful to others).
And I embraced the inevitable corollary to that idea: what you do with your body and life and dreams doesn’t matter as long as it “makes you happy” (and doesn’t hurt someone else or make them feel bad).
(Never mind the fact that I wasn’t happy, and no one living that way ends up happy).
Anyway, rediscovering Catholicsm put a new sense of dignity on all of my choices, thoughts, and desires.
- Even if I’m acting perfectly nice on the outside, it matters how I think about people and how much I judge and hate others. Negative thought habits (no matter how “accurate”) burden my soul and build walls between my spirit and the people in my life.
- Even if I’m married, it matters how, when, and why my husband and I have sex. Sex isn’t magically “using” someone before marriage and “not using” someone after marriage. And how could Christ be the ruler of our hearts, minds, and bodies, if we use chemicals and barriers to make sure it’s our plans — not his — that come to fruition? (I’m tearfully grateful we didn’t learn this lesson too late).
- Even if my choices “make me happy,” it matters whether or not they’re healthy for me by God’s standard. I mean seriously, dairy ice cream makes me really happy for about 15 minutes, so by a secular argument, it’s good for me. But obviously the mood, health, and bathroom disturbances that happen the rest of the day are a clear sign it’s not meant for me. Through prayer and education and submitting myself to other authorities, I’ve learned that cashew milk ice cream makes me pretty darn happy for that first 15 minutes and the rest of the day. I have the same testimony for everything about Catholic teaching that I thought “oppressed me” before.
Catholicism has brought more dignity to every facet of my life, and most especially to my responsibility to make Christlike choices. Everything I do means something. And while that could feel like a lot of pressure for someone else, it gives me great comfort that I could be loved so much.
So, whether your Catholic or not, what’s the one word that sums up Catholicism for you & why?
(& hopefully it goes without saying that I welcome negative words and experiences, but won’t publish abusive or insulting ones… and yes, I get to decide which is which :-P).