A friend recently said this and it got me to thinking, there are a lot of things that sometimes I say “I hate” to!
Like I hate police officers when I get a speeding ticket! I also hate lines at the grocery when I am at the end….waiting….I hate “judgmental” people when they have seen my dark side and point it out to me! I hate rules, especially that rule that stops me from doing exactly what it is I’m wanting to do…like don’t feed the animals (but I’m great with horses!!) Don’t go in the water, DANGER!! ( but I will be careful!!)
I know that the Church has flaws, namely the people in the Church are not perfect! I should spend much more time in the confessional myself! There have been very few times that I felt ashamed or embarrassed to be at church, but I will never forget the times that I did feel that way. Usually folks who say they hate organized religion have been hurt, either by their family directly, or by a relationship within their immediate circle that caused them to stray away.
In my case it was my own fault. I had two children out of wedlock, which was embarrassing at best. I was mortified. I remember in the early days of our relationship, trying to get Abel to come to mass….it wasn’t pretty. We had our struggles, the main one being that we needed convincing that the people in the church cared more about us, and less about the stupid sins we had committed. I wanted to be angry at the Catholic Church for having rules that were unrealistic, I wanted to hate religion all together! But then came a Sunday when I was full of shame and anger and defensiveness, I was ready to shout at whomever looked sideways at me next: “I am living the pro-life message! See how my baby is ALIVE and not dead! You should be HAPPY I didn’t contracept, or abort! Smile and say congrats, or just don’t look at me!!!!” And then an old friend of my family, came up to me and said how truly wonderful it was to see me, and how are things going?
It was so great. Honey to my soul. This is the body of Christ folks- the spirit of truth reaches out and has the guts to just talk to people, smile and talk. That same day someone else spoke to and encouraged my husband. It was paramount. We haven’t missed mass since. After some time has passed I realize there may be several reasons people were looking at me BESIDES hatred, scorn or judgment. They maybe be honestly worried about me and wanting to help, but not know what to say, they may be thinking about their own teenage pregnancy that they were unable to keep, they maybe thinking about their daughter who is my age, living with her boyfriend, on birth control…. there are so many scenarios.
There are many reasons people can pick on the church, there is a popular you tube video going around about “Why I hate religion, but Love Jesus,” which is full of blatant untruths, if you took five minutes to research you could disprove. Like, “Jesus came to abolish religion”….uh…nope…Jesus came to fulfill the law, Matthew 5:17, remember Jesus was an observant Jew. He came to upset the religious people who were more focused on the letter of the law, he wanted to infuse them and their world with the Holy Spirit, and make it about a relationship with his Heavenly Father. Much different than stopping religion altogether. Or how about this one, I know you’ve heard this before: “the church wastes money on big beautiful churches but fails to feed the poor.” Wrong again! Wow, too bad the Catholic Church is the biggest humanitarian organization in the world…..if you want to read specifically about what the church does read here:
I think it’s fair to say that the biggest sin we can commit as Catholic Christians is to not reach out to others who are clearly challenged. That includes any mother (single or not), father, teenager, divorced or widowed, people with mental illness, physical handicaps, the elderly, our own families. Maybe we should just start there.
I will start with loving my own family as much as I possibly can. I wish I could go back in time and commit to being a better friend to this person who hates organized religion. I wish I could show her how sweet it is to be a part of the church, the life and light of the risen Christ operating much more than human goodness, the end result is feeling super supported. It’s literally life changing.