Gentle Reader: I try really hard to follow the recommended devotional practices of our Church. I try especially hard and with great diligence to follow the mandated periods of fast and abstinence during the liturgical year.
I fast from food and abstain from meat on Good Friday and Ash Wednesday. I abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent. At one point, I always totally fasted on First Fridays in reparation and hopeful prayer that the sin of abortion would end. I should start that practice up again, especially, as our local friends at Planned Parenthood want to build a bigger abortuary in St. Paul.
Anyway, I’ve periodically been met with resentment by my fellow Catholics when they hear what I’m doing-especially during the two years I had my First Friday fast going on. Usually, I’d hear: “Why are you doing that? Do you think you are a better Catholic than I am?”
Are they thinking: Is it possible they are missing out on something? Is it possible I’m judging them? Is it possible if they don’t do it something bad is going to happen to them?
I decided, after a period of annoyed reflection, the motivation behind these statements was their own unease and anxiety; not some effort to put me down. Though that may have been part of it, it was not all of it.
I would usually comment back to them, in all honesty: “No, I don’t think I’m better than you. In fact, I know I’m not which is why I’m doing it” End of story. I’m still the biggest sinner I know.
Why then do fellow Catholics get so upset and act like you are the one who is crazy when you cross yourself as you pass a Catholic Church (to reverence the Blessed Sacrament inside) or when you are walking around Como Lake carrying your Rosary or when you are abstaining EVERY Friday or fasting on Ash Wednesday?
Part of it may be embarrassment; after all it’s more “hip” these days to act like a Catholic who doesn’t give a damn and probably is damned than one who is actually acting and living like one. So, there goes that old throwback making us all look like Vatican II never happened blah, blah, yadda, yadda. What an embarrassment, why doesn’t she just join us in our fortress of indifference and eye-rolling superiority?
When you buy into this line of cr---, uh, reasoning that’s the point you start crossing over to the dark side. Once you are ashamed of devotional practices that you practice openly, it’s a short step to suddenly being ashamed you are going to daily Mass and then oops, why do you really need to go to Confession and why should you feel bad about being too busy for Sunday Mass. On and on
After you’ve crossed over then you want others to join you too. No one wants to feel shame and it’s easier to not feel shame when as many people as possible are on the Sin Train with you. When you surround your self with people who think like you then you can avoid those awkward encounters with people like me who tell you they make it a spiritual practice (some of which may be mandates and some not but to those who are far gone there is no distinction) to go to Confession before First Friday, to pray the Rosary daily, to go to Mass every Sunday.
If there is anyone who is selfish in these scenerios it’s probably me because I’m not buying the dissident line of baloney anymore. I have to admit I do not always use these opportunities as teaching moments. Some times I just have to walk away because I already know what’s coming. It’s not that I’m afraid they will revert me, it’s more like I just don’t want to hear it anymore. I’ve been there, believed it, lived it, spoke it, spread it. I’m removed from it. I’ve removed myself from it.
This is probably an erroneous response. I should be in the thick of it. There are few better qualified then me to go right into the trenches. There are days I amuse myself with the thought of going back to my old parish in a chapel veil. I don’t know-maybe one day I will. Maybe one day I’ll have to. But, for now, no.
But, I know if a priest I know and respect and like were assigned there and I know he’s going to need help I’d be over there in a shot. Then, I ask myself in all honesty: “So, you’d go back there for a friend, but not for the Lord?”
/me hangs head in shame
Who’s inferior now?