I have had this “piece” in my heart for a while now and feel the need to let it out of me.
I was raised Catholic and I am still a practicing albeit struggling one. In my adult life, I have had periods of active attendance and engagement in the Church juxtaposed with years of not stepping foot once in a Church.
I have arrived at the theory below.
Catholicism presents itself in the form of rituals and outwardly expressions. The concept of personal relationship with God is not one that I knew of until much later in life. My mom was staunch, very prayerful but not outwardly expressive but my dad on the other hand had a literal shrine in our living room which he prayed at his comings and goings: which could be several times a day sometimes.
The outward expression of faith, in my opinion, lent itself to two things: guilt and judgement. I felt judged for not genuflecting piously enough which in turn fed the Catholic guilt that made me feel forever inadequate.
Judgement is not reserved for oneself though; because there was an unspoken rule that the holier members of our Church were above petty sin. Their outward relationship with God was expected to translate to a private life that was a mirror image of their outward expressions.
The first time I openly judged a fellow Catholic was one Ohio priest who spoke at one of trump’s final 2016 rallies. I judged him for not seeing the candidate through my eyes as I erroneously assumed our faith to be homogenous.
My father was the next person that I judged because you see, unlike my mom, his private self was completely removed from the pious church elder. I couldn’t reconcile his actions from his faith and i took my disappointments in him directly to my faith.
Perhaps Catholicism should aim for the personal relationship with Christ that the protestant movement preaches. Perhaps the Church should acknowledge that we are all a work in progress and that our successes or failures in observing the rights of the church doesn’t in any way reflect God’s view of us.
I am still struggling and will perhaps be struggling my entire life but i am striving to walk the imperfect walk, focusing on God and not questioning how well others perform or do not perform their rights
p.s this has been sitting in my drafts for months- as I was afraid and ashamed to utter this thoughts out loud. Catholic guilt is a sin man (Nov 6, 2020)