I’m going to come right out and admit that I’m one of those “Cafeteria Catholics” that picks and chooses how I practice my faith. Lately two events, one local and one national, are causing me to rethink my choice of religion entirely. This isn’t the first time I struggled with the teachings of my church. Two years ago I remember sitting in the hard wood pews of our beautiful cathedral thinking, “Are all these other people stronger than me in their faith? Do I belong here? Why do I sit in these pews on many Sundays?” The answer to the question scared me because I began to realize I didn’t sit in my particular church for any reason other than it’s beautiful, it’s location and by attending 8 am mass I was more productive as it forced me out of bed earlier. So why do I still sit in those same hard pews two years later?
The end of the 2012 election helped. During the run-up to the election, I kept pondering, “Separation of Church and State?” during the sermons and many prayer intentions. I felt preached down to. I know, church is where preaching occurs, but one of my favorite quotes is, “The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don’t tell you what to see.” Give me information, other’s interpretations, where to look but don’t tell me how to think. Let me determine that on my own. Be the headlamp pointed up the path not directly back into my eyes.
I also talked to other practicing Catholics who told me they liked the solitude during Mass and didn’t always listened to the sermons, especially when it was focused on political matters. Really? They were picking and choosing too?
About six months after the election ended and the sermons seemed less political in nature, Pope Francis’s Papacy began. He chose a simple life. He accepted others. I believed through him there would be change. I wanted to be a part of the change. I found myself listening again to the sermons and being enlightened not blinded.
Then came a controversy surrounding a fellow Catholic in town and the Supreme Court’s decision in favor of Hobby Lobby. I find myself again struggling to understand how to balance what the Church preaches and my current feelings on these two issues. Should I continue to be a Cafeteria Catholic and turn away when the blinding light is preached? Does the Church want a Cafeteria Catholic that may be enlightened at some point or am I one of the many that will choose to look elsewhere to find guidance?