The priest at my Sunday mass was a visiting priest. He was also a combination of priest/stand-up comedian, which is notable because those were the two career choices Dan was trying to decide between when he was 10 years old.
His homily was successfully funny and engaging — and he started out by thanking parents for bringing young children, so he won me over from the start — and also inspired and moving. He captured the vitality of my faith.
Despite what some people may think, Catholicism isn’t dead or moribund. It’s a vital and living religion. It’s not a dull, dead set of rules that we are supposed to follow so we can go to heaven. It’s a journey, it’s an adventure. It’s alive!
God has plans to prosper us. He doesn’t want us to live in little tiny boxes, and not break rules, and not have pleasure in our lives. He wants to heal us, he wants to love us. And he wants us to show the world his healing and his love.
Listening to the priest talk, I had this feeling in my chest — this feeling of brightness and lightness. And THIS, this expansive feeling is the thing I wish I could share with everyone who wonders why I am Catholic. It’s so hard to put into words! If I could just reach into myself and put some of it into your hands, I feel like it would be clear.
It’s like that feeling one has — or that I had, anyway — when one meets the person they want to spend their life with. Sometimes, people ask, “How did you know?” And the response is, “You just know.” My whole internal calculus changed when I started dating Dan.
Something happened inside of me when I put myself back on the path that God wanted me to be on. It was quiet, but it was revelatory. I didn’t find my Catholicism constraining or restricting. I find living with my faith to be entirely freeing. It’s the same way I felt when I got married — I didn’t see my commitment to Dan as limiting to me. Instead, it freed me — it freed me to be the best person I could be.
Does that make sense?
And I guess that’s a major reason I take the children to church, even though it’s a pain sometimes. It’s the reason we are educating our children at a Catholic school. I don’t know what life is going to throw at them, and I don’t know that they will always be Catholic or religious at all. But if I can share with them what the priest was up there talking about — that God has plans to prosper us — then I will have done the best I could do.
The priest said something very interesting, again, somewhere near the beginning of his homily. “You can’t love something you don’t know.” I can’t depend on my children to just love God or love their faith because I tell them to. I have to teach them about it so that they can fall in love with it.
It took me a long time to be in love with my faith.
I had a lot to learn.