I Was Catholic When Catholic Wasn’t Cool

Before I starting throwing a fit, I should tell you that I am light and funny today over at The ‘Stache.  And whether you stick around to read this shit or not, you should definitely go over there to comment.

Now, the shit…

You know how people say you shouldn’t talk about politics or religion on your blog? (Unless, of course, you are a political or religious blogger, in which case you should not talk about your vagina I think)

Well today I break that rule. Because I’m a rebel.

Today I also break another rule – linking to a post that pissed me off and not just keeping my damn mouth shut in an effort to avoid finding myself in the middle of blog drama. Whether or not this lands me in the middle of some deep shit remains to be seen, but I am sooooo tired of keeping my mouth shut about shit like this.

So – post in question: Taking The Christ Out Of Christian

Now, initially this post seems to be a commentary on a recent report released by the Vatican, and the fact that the current Pope can be a little… ahem… “exclusive”. Fine. Whatever. Don’t agree with the Pope, think he’s being an ass, whatever. When that man opens his mouth someone is bound to get pissed off and I can think of very few instances where I would take that personally.

However (and I cannot believe I am getting ready to actually quote another blogger, I feel like a 12 year old, seriously) what has inspired this post is this specific paragraph:

“This shit just makes me sad. People really believe that old dude has some kind of up close and personal with God. People really believe that only they are true believers and only they will go to heaven, be saved wtfever. ‘Course, Catholics™ also think that saying 100 Hail Marys (because a priest-in-a-box told them to) will absolve them of that extra-marital affair. Fucking morons. Don’t forget the crucifixes and statues…they don’t fall under that silly graven image thing.”

For those of you keeping track, I am Catholic. Therefore, by definition apparently, I’m a “fucking moron”.

And you know what? Even THAT doesn’t piss me off. If you are honestly so baffled or disgusted by a school of thought that you can reduce your opinion of an entire faith and all of it’s followers to being “fucking morons” – yay for you. I don’t need you to pat me on the head and tell me how smart I am and how much you agree with me – especially when it comes to matters of personal belief. You have your views, I’ll have mine – and we can both think the other is retarded. Hell, we don’t even have to be nice about it or quietly agree to disagree over martinis. People disagree, sometimes passionately.

But… BUT… if you are going to personally insult me based on my beliefs, at least take the fucking TIME to understand exactly what it is you are bashing, lest you grossly misrepresent what the hell it is you are opposing in the first place.

I am so, so, SO tired of hearing Catholics slammed based on FALSE information and assumptions. So, please, allow me to fucking edumacate you on WHAT exactly it is you profess to have so much disdain for

*disclaimer – this is, obviously, Catholicism according to Miss Britt. I may not have the credibility of the Pope, but as an actual practicing Catholic I would like to think I have more credibility than your average dimwit hate monger. Also, this is not directed at only Miss Ann & her post, but at the constant shit I hear being spouted as “what Catholics believe” all the damn time.

Anyway. Let’s start with the common misconceptions, shall we?

People really believe that old dude has some kind of up close and personal with God.” Um, yeah. Catholics do believe that the Pope has an up close and personal relationship with God. We also believe that you, me, and that guy who picks his nose in his car have an up close and personal relationship with God.

What? You thought because we have things like Apostolic succession and priests and OMG rules! and authority! that that means that we don’t personally have a relationship with God?

That’s crap. We believe that for The Church – an organization that spans 2,000 years and millions of members across the world – that leadership and authority is important. We believe that a hierarchy from Big Guy In Rome to Little Priest In Small Town Iowa is important, for very practical reasons.

Oh, and we do not believe that everything the Pope says is infallible. This is a pretty common misconception. The Pope is still human – to be revered, but not worshipped. We DO believe that God has his hand on The Church, guiding the leadership process, etc. And there are certain things that the Pope will say came – basically – right from God (and btw, this is MUCH more rare than people seem to realize. In fact, I dare say more rare than the US President claiming infallibility via God). I can see how some people would have a problem with that concept. Although I don’t think it should be a stretch for Christians who believe that Bible is God’s Word – inspired text. Infallible statements from the Pope? Same thing, basically. Messages from God – not a uniquely Catholic conept.

ANYway, moving on.

People really believe that only they are true believers and only they will go to heaven, be saved wtfever.” Um, no. This is so NOT Catholic it’s not even funny.

We don’t go to Mass to get to heaven. We don’t receive the Eucharist (aka Communion) to go to Heaven. We don’t even go to confession to get to heaven. These things are designed either because it was a specific request from Jesus (Commnion: “do this in memory of me”) or because it enhances our relationship with God and with the Church. You don’t obey your parents to get their love, or to be allowed in the house. You do it out of love and respect.

Catholics believe, basically, the same thing most Christians do regarding “salvation” and “Heaven”. You have to believe in Jesus as the Messiah – and being baptized is kind of a big deal in showing that belief. And even THAT has a little grey area because – well, ultimately, it’s up to GOD.

And furthermore, what I have always been told is that the official Church stance on heaven and hell – and who is or is not there or will or will not be there – is that the Church is not the official word on that. God is.

To be clear: you do not have to be Catholic to go to Heaven. Nor is being Catholic a Get Into Heaven Free Card.

‘Course, Catholics™ also think that saying 100 Hail Marys (because a priest-in-a-box told them to) will absolve them of that extra-marital affair. Again, no. A common misconception – but a gross misunderstanding none the less.

Catholics believe you are absolved of your sin because Jesus died on the cross in order for you to be forgiven. We go to Confession because it is incredibly healing to have someone – a real, live, talking person – verbalize that for you. It’s an act of accountability – to say out loud that you have sinned, and say that you’re sorry, and that you want to be forgiven. It is a way to actively receive the forgiveness we are taught about in the Bible. The priest delivers absolution because of what the scripture says to Peter (the first Pope/priest basically) about “whatever you loose on Earth shall be loosed in Heaven.”

Hail Mary’s and what not? Not part of the absolution, for the record. Those are actually called “penance” – a way for you to avoid going “um, shit, yeah, I know, I’m sorry – but whatever, you’re going to forgive me not matter what anyway, right?” It’s a way to show true remorse and regret and a genuine desire to do better. Your forgiveness is not contingent on your penance.

Don’t forget the crucifixes and statues…they don’t fall under that silly graven image thing. Well, shit, if they do then I strongly suggest anyone trying to be a “good Commandment following, Bible quoting Christian” take down any pictures they have in their house of loved ones. It better be All God, All The Time. Seriously.

Why is it so fucking hard for people to understand the difference between reverence and love and WORSHIP?? I love my mother, adore her even. Same with my dead grandmother. And you know what? I have mementos reminding me of those relationships all over my damn house! I feel the same way about The Virgin Mary – I have a serious affection for the woman who carried, birthed and raised a man I consider to be Divinity Incarnate. I figure if she’s good enough for Jesus to love as a mother, she’s good enough for me to show a little respect for.

The thing is, Catholicism is really not that different from other forms of Christianity. And do you know WHY?? Because that’s where they all fucking CAME FROM!

I know, I know. It’s not cool to be all superior and “we came first” and blah blah blah. But that’s not arrogance people, that’s history. When shit went down during The Reformation and there was corruption and discent and disagreement (as you will have in ANY human institution), some people decided they could go their own way, start their own groups, and do it better.

And some of us? Decided that while the people may being screwing things up and the practices and traditions might have gone wayyyyyy off course – the ideas and principles and FAITH that the Church was founded on were still valid. And worth sticking with and fighting for.

It’s the same decision many of us make today – whether we disagree with the current Pope, or the Church’s stance on abortion, or gay marriage, or treatment of women or whatEVER… we are still a family. With roots we can trace all the way back to Peter and Jesus himself. The building blocks of the faith have not changed. Like any family, we will fight and bicker and continue to try to hammer things out amongst ourselves. But we remain united in the constants, the core principles that are sadly misconstrued but that ultimately define who we are and what we believe.

In summary (because I was told I should summarize this long ass, rambling post) – I am Catholic. I sin all the damn time and I am still very, very Catholic. I disagree with things the Pope says, I understand that Priests Are People Too and I don’t worship statues of Mary or Joseph or Nana. Confession is something I do to soothe my own soul and draw me closer to God, not to bribe my way into Heaven. I pray with beads because I want to, not because I think not using them will cause eternal damnation. I hate broad sweeping statements borne of ignorance and arrogance. Especially when those statements are supposed to be a representation of what I believe and fall so far off base it’s down right insulting.

And also, I drink a little. Sometimes.

Now, if you’d like to slam THAT… be my guest.

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