Sunday, September 16, 2018

Affiliation Blues

It's interesting what we pick up on the street. I mean if one bothers to leave one's home in the first place. But to look around and stop, here and there; comparing and contrasting this and that. Feeling. Thinking. Choosing.

I am of two minds, whether we are our choices or are simply the effect of having chosen. Two people might get along very well who have made very different choices, but having engaged with their lives to a similar degree or such, they see eye to eye.

I am interested in choice, as you are too, I'm sure. And I am interested in choosing not to choose. The terms of commitment and contract interest me. Certain personal commitments are, top my way of thinking, inviolate; or they are until they no longer qualify. How do we decide these things? No objective measure suffices, or sways, where ultimately the individual must say Yes or No.

One's affiliations define one's moral position in a very real sense. We have all experienced dismay or disappointment with this or that institution or practice.

To be specific: at this point in my life, does the Catholic Church support me, or am I supporting the Catholic Church? This is not a question resolved by dogma. It is a relational, trust-bound issue, observed from a life that bears many commitments. Insofar as I owe it to myself, to others, and to God, to be honest, I can assert easily that I do not trust the ecclesiastical body of the Catholic Church. I do not trust it; I am not fond of it. I do not look forward to its half-baked pronouncements on this or that crisis. I do not enjoy the prospect of being told to do things that are good for me by people who cannot control the actions of their ministers and peers and, as is sometimes the case, their very selves.

I am not more fond of hypocrisy, being Catholic, than I was before I became Catholic. That makes being a practicing Catholic rather difficult at this time.

I am glad and grateful that I have delved into my religion as deeply as I have, because it has corrected lazy thoughts and notions and given me a more solid basis for reflection and action on moral issues than I have ever had. But I do not trust the church, and in fact I do not especially like it. Not now. As fond as I am of God, I am not inclined to throw a lot of support to an institution that has treated Him and children and young adults as poorly as has the ecclesiastical body of the Catholic Church. Going to Mass these days does not free me or inform me in any way. Rather, I feel like I am doing the work of putting up a kind of show of support. And I am tired of it. I have a wife and child. I have a job, and I have myself. My concern for the disposition of the Catholic Church and its supporters is fixed at a pretty distant indeed.

I will not mitigate my thoughts and feelings or attempt to put on a brave countenance. I will not play the paper saint. Instead, I will speak from my heart as God wants me to do.

And so I say, when the ecclesiastical body of the Catholic Church has made meaningful, realistic progress in curing itself of the crimes its members have committed (and surely continue to commit), I may forgive it. I may, or I may not. That is my choice.

I am glad God has given me a conscience by which to say Yes or No. I hope I have the courage to acknowledge deflection and nonsense when I see it or hear it. I pray I have the courage to be honest - imagine that - regardless what the circumstances or prospects are for reconciliation.

Enough of speeches and empty show.

God have mercy on us all.