I thought it would be interesting to share the reasons for my (probable, but not inevitable) reversion to Catholicism. Well, at least I know it would be interesting for my husband, who would be much less surprised if I told him I was changing my name to Moon Fish and opening a New Age bookstore where I, Moon Fish, would wear many unnecessary silks and do tarot readings. Jokes aside, I am equally as startled as he is by my recent fascination with Catholicism: everyday I encounter more layers, more theological challenges that need to be understood, unpacked, resolved. As a seeker, these layers and challenges are daunting for me. As a writer, they are inspiring.
This brand new blog has already started to blur the lines between secular and religious. That tension is honestly a bit tricky for me as the author. When I write, I find myself wondering if the language or content will be offensive to those who are truly pious, while at the same time dogmatic, irrelevant, even boring for the secular reader. And the truth is, I haven’t spent much time around Believers, not the practicing kind anyway. I don’t know the rules, the expectations, the common tongue. I don’t know what I can and can’t get away with. I have far more comfort and familiarity in the secular world: I grew up discussing Madonna’s live performances with my mother in the 1990s, not studying the Bible on Wednesday nights. And now I’ve gotten my secular self into this whole kerfuffle with the Catholic Church, arguably the very epitome of nonsecular. For all I know, the dictionary uses a sketch of Pope Francis’s face instead of an actual definition for the word nonsecular.
And what do these words mean? We all know that the word secular refers to the nonreligious or nonspiritual, or more specifically to the separation of church and state. Our modern society is decidedly secular. Medieval times, not so much: in those days, daily life was still drenched in religion. I’ve never been an atheist but like most modern Americans I have deep secularist roots. Like you, I’ve enjoyed the many privileges that go along with belonging to a secular society. I think it can be dangerous to overlook those privileges, especially as a woman. But like a typical Libra (shhh, silence, Moon Fish!), I can see the other side of the coin: I am aware that the secular world can feel sterile and sapless, like the Christmas decor for sale at Target every December.
As I am learning, the Catholic Church, with all its density and blood, is just plain hard to reconcile with secularity.
I generally feel that the religious and secular worlds are separate spheres entirely and yet I know that cannot but true because I myself exist within their overlap. And that is the place I will write from when I list my reasons for reverting on this blog over the next few weeks. I am not Catholic yet. I’ve lived my entire life outside of any organized religion. I swear every now and again, I don’t always dance appropriately, I love the sinful feast that is Game of Thrones. I am still a free agent: unbound, questioning. I freely own my inexperience with Church teaching. I am a novice, a novice of Catholic ancestry with secularist leanings, and that is the place I will write from. I already know I have my work cut out for me. But if I wait until I am sure, until I am certain, doubtless, if I wait until I am an expert, until I am sinless, until I am reborn as a bearded man with a theological degree, or until I am perfectly faithful I may never write at all. And then you guys would never get to hear about why a 27 year-old woman would allow herself to fall into a romance with the Catholic Church.
In the very short time I’ve had this blog, I’ve learned that the topic of religion seriously ruffles feathers. Just as a disclaimer, if you are passionately against Christianity, or perhaps passionately for or against secularism or atheism, you may not want waste your strength doing battle with me. Go out and find yourself a big dog to fight. At this stage, I am entirely too flexible to waste energy on. If the day comes that I surrender entirely to Church doctrine and I start vehemently insisting that others do the same, then we’ll have a healthy argument in the comments section. Today is not that day. I don’t currently suffer from fanaticism in any form. I’m not even particularly knowledgable about the subjects I am hoping to explore. Fighting me on theological matters is like stealing candy from a baby. I plan to write about my faith not to make a case for it or to convince others. I plan to write like a painter paints, to say here, this is something I find beautiful if you would like to look with me.
Since you’ve made it through this post, I will share with you the first reason on my list, the very first thing I wrote by hand in my journal under the heading why I am reverting. It is the first reason but it is also the lens through which all the other reasons must be seen.
I stated at the beginning of this post that it seemed more likely, more sensible even, that a woman such as myself would live out her life as a New Agey dirt-worshipping feminist type, a member of the “spiritual but not religious” camp. Given my lifestyle, my choices, my beliefs, (ahem, my crystal collection…) it would indeed seem more reasonable, more rational, more logical, more thinkable for me to remain outside of the Church.
These are words that we in the secular world savor: sensible, reasonable, rational, logical, thinkable. We like things that can be dissected, measured, explained, and proven. But anyone who makes the radical choice to believe knows that faith is not always sensible, reasonable, rational, logical, thinkable. The truest answer I can give you as to why I am reverting to Catholicism is because I believe that my course was already charted and that I have been led here. Looking back, nothing else makes any sense to me. The road that brought me here was too curious to be curious, too random to be random.
The Catechism says:
God calls man first…the living and true God tirelessly calls each person to that mysterious encounter known as prayer. In prayer, the faithful God’s initiative of love always comes first; our own first step is always a response.
I have prayed to find a spiritual home for as long as I can remember. I can’t say with complete confidence that I am there yet but I can say that given the steep and rocky road ahead of me, wherever I am going, I am being led. Those who know me know that I would never choose to sweat of my own accord. Something has called me to where I am now and I believe that these first steps of mine are in response to that Calling. I know this because I know myself: I like to think of myself as an artist, which is just a fancy way of saying I am creative, irreverent and lazy. If there is an easy way, I will happily take it. I may have some natural talent, sure, but if there is any real exertion involved, meh, I would just as soon not use it. The rules don’t apply to me because I am too wonderful. If I can avoid rules, all the better. If I can make the rules, ideal! You get the idea.
So you can see that it is absolutely unlikely for a person such as this, a person who would prefer to take the easiest road whenever possible, who would prefer to be obedient to herself and no one else, to willingly enter into a love contract with Catholicism of all things.
she was being led.