I grew up Catholic. I grew up proud of my faith. I grew up ready to defend my faith. I didn't know much about my faith growing up. I didn't receive my first communion or reconciliation until I was in 7th grade. Heck, I wasn't confirmed until I was in my late twenties. That didn't matter. I identified myself as Catholic even though I probably couldn't tell you what that meant. As such, I led a pretty secular life and did things that a person in my teens or twenties wanted to do. I moved in with a girl at twenty years old. I married her in a courthouse. I rarely went to mass. Confession?? Forget about it.
I was ignorant about my faith and I lived that way. But, if anyone would have asked me---I was Catholic--and PROUD OF IT! Here is the deal though, I don't think I ever spoke ill of the Catholic Church's teachings. I've always trusted her teachings as truth even if I didn't always live by them or understand them. I don't know what I would have done if someone would have questioned me about them. What would have I done if someone asked, "Aren't you supposed to go to mass every Sunday?" or "Should you be having premarital sex?" or "Doesn't the Church teach against birth control?"
I recognize the fact that I may appear hypocritical when I criticize "Cafeteria Catholics." Cafeteria Catholics are those who claim to be Catholic but pick and choose from the Catechism what they believe in or don't believe in-- as if they were going through a line in a cafeteria. I'll also be the first one to admit that I don't always live according to Church teachings today. After all, I am a sinner and if it weren't but for the grace of God and the fear of Hell I would be a bad bad guy.
As much as I may cause scandal by being a sinner and saying that something is a sin and then going and committing that sin, I believe it is a great scandal to say that you are Catholic and then criticize what the Church believes and teaches. Yes, there is a hell and people go there every day. Yes, contraception is wrong. Homosexual acts are wrong. Abortion is wrong. The bishop is the authority of the diocese and should be shown respect. Masturbation is wrong. You are supposed to go to mass every Sunday and on Holy Days of Obligation. You are supposed to go to confession once a year. You are supposed to abstain from meat on Fridays during lent and fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Only men can be priests. To say otherwise goes against the teachings of the Catholic Church.
Catholicism is not a social group. As the apologist John Martinoni has said that do so is basically taking a Catechism of the Catholic Church, ripping out pages and turning it into the Catechism of Gene. (It's been years since I've heard that talk so you will excuse me paraphrasing what he said) Mr. Marinoni's point is that if you are Catholic then you are saying that you can pick up the Catechism and say, "This is what I believe."
If you have problems with some of the Church's teachings--which is perfectly understandable because there are many difficult teachings--then educate yourself about the teachings. Find out why she says what she says. Then pray about the teachings. It may take the grace of God to get you to understand some teachings. Then, finally, trust our Church. Jesus gave Peter and the apostles authority and that authority was passed down through the ages. Trust in that authority. Everything that is in that Catechism----I believe it.
What are teachings you have difficulty with? Which ones did you have difficulty with and how did you get over that difficulty? Are you or have you been a Cafeteria Catholic?
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