Making the decision to be open about being a Catholic can be difficult for someone who is
- Insecure about their knowledge of the faith.
- Typically private about their beliefs.
- Really really uncomfortable with conflict (and being Catholic can create a bit of conflict with some people in my life)
Obviously I’m talking about myself here. It’s not a secret that I am one of two practicing Catholics in a very large family (the other is my grandmother) I’ve been pretty open about this fact. Interestingly enough, both sides of my family including both sets of grandparents and all nine immediate aunt’s and uncle’s were raised Catholic but have fallen away from the Church, all for various reasons.
I was raised ‘sort of’ Protestant and I have some cousins who were also raised Protestant or did not grow up practicing any religion. As I’ve mentioned, my family did not talk about faith growing up. We did not talk about Jesus, we didn’t pray and rosaries weren’t even a thing. My friends may have been cultural Catholics or raised in some form of a religious household but I can’t recall one time where I ever had a conversation with a friend about Jesus, ever. (Side note- My family and friends choices are perfectly fine but I’m sharing this in order to set the stage).
So we already know this about me, why am I bringing it up again?
Because it’s weighing on me hard and I have some new thoughts on the matter. I’m currently going through a period of time where I am compelled to be open about the fact that I am Catholic. It’s honestly a HUGE secret. A few months ago I was out to dinner with my husband and I told him that “I can’t not be open about this anymore, it is everything to me”. You know when people say that something hit them like a ton of bricks? That’s what happened. All these years of research led to the very clear fact that the Catholic Church might actually be true. I expected to practice aspects of the faith but I never thought I would actually completely believe it, after all, I was raised to be a “good person” who can virtually set my own moral compass. I learned to set my own rules and take aspects of religious and spiritual teachings and apply them to my life. I didn’t have to be ‘fully’ Catholic.
And then, as I said, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I knew too much and it was all true. My moral compass moved from my own intuition to the teachings of the Catholic Church. So what am I supposed to do now?
Okay, so now that we are caught up to speed, here comes the challenging part. Because of my belief in the Catholic Church and it’s teachings, I am set on a path to living out the virtues that accompany the faith. My perception of the world, humanity, the environment, marriage, children, my career and literally EVERYTHING else has done a 180. It’s becoming abundantly clear to my husband and others that my faith has had an impact on my life (as it should) but now I’m much more accutely aware of others perceptions of the Catholic Church, especially those that are close to me. My choice to become Catholic is now officially known by three close (not Catholic) friends and my parents.
Most of my friends and families responses go something like this “oh okay, that’s nice, well I like aspects of the Catholic faith but it’s obviously flawed so don’t feel like you have to believe everything about it”. And my response? “Right”. This is a hard conversation to have, especially when your friends very kindly say that the fact that you are Catholic is “nice and not too weird but I just didn’t see you being this kind of person” and I know what this means, because I once felt how they felt. To be a practicing Catholic to some in my life means that I am a close minded person. Not only am I close minded but I take part in a suppressive religion that doesn’t value women and harms children (I’ve actually been told this in various ways throughout my life). And because some friends and family don’t see me as someone who would value those things (they are correct!) They validate my choice to be Catholic by telling me that “it can be helpful to practice a religion” and also … ‘just don’t believe all of what the Church teaches’. I can understand this, especially when the view you have of the Catholic Church is negative and harmful.
Right now I’m learning to share the truth about the Catholic Church with others in a light hearted way. I’m trying to live out my belief of ‘meeting people where they are’ which means, arguing about aspects of the faith isn’t going to help. Demanding or even offering someone come to church with me could also not be helpful depending on the person. I’ve decided that I may not shout from the rooftops that I am Catholic (minus my Catholic Instagram page and podcast shared with a fellow Instagrammer- which by the way is only known by all of you and no one really from my non social media life). I’m not going to keep it a secret anymore per say, and there are some people who I may directly tell that I am Catholic however, I’m also treading lightly with others and may not be as open with them. I don’t think each person in my life is going to know the various complexities of my faith and I think that’s okay. I believe that the changes I make in my life as a natural consequence of my belief system will shine through and raise some questions and when it does I will be there to answer the questions to the best of my ability. The more I practice and live out my faith, the more I am able to speak to it’s amazing truths. I’m just going to be me, the best me I can, and I will continue to work hard at sharing Jesus and his Church with others in the best way I know how: by loving others, being of service to them and patience.