What’s It Like Being Catholic?

I‘m often asked this question. And while I am under the blissful delusion that I can rant and rave on any subject of my choice, this one leaves me stumped. What’s it like being Catholic? Well, it’s like…well you see…hm…

It’s like sex.
Wait, no, people will think I’m 18.
It’s like waking up in the morning, looking outside, and realizing that someone had replaced your ordinary route to work with a roller-coaster, your pen with a sword, and your friends with gods.
Not really.
It’s like everything smelled of your favorite smell and you never got sick of smelling it.
But not quite.
It’s steak and cigars.
It’s like being constantly punched in the face.
Closer, warmer.
It’s the feeling you get when you think you’ve reached the top of the stairs, but you haven’t, you actually have one step left, and so you trip over it, and while you’re laying sprawled out on the floor, crying, you check Facebook and realize that you have 37 notifications and 700 new friend requests, so you smile to yourself, pour a large glass of red, and read a 1000 year old book about some one who had a similar experience.

This could probably go on for a while, but a realization strikes me. There is one earthly experience that it can be compared to. There is a singular feeling that can semi-adequately and completely subjectively answer the question, “What’s it like being Catholic?”

So let me tell you. Being Catholic is like being in love.

Really?

It’s trueth. First there’s infatuation with the Church. Like all hormonal encounters; you don’t seek out this infatuation. You can’t help it; she’s very pretty. Truly, you want to sleep through Mass, you want to ignore the Irish cleric preaching forgiveness, you want to think about your own miserable attempts at attracting women while you’re praying the Rosary, but then - inevitably - you’ll hear something:

“…our life, our sweetness and our hope. To thee to we send up our cries, poor, banished children of Eve, to thee to we send up our sighs, mournings and weepings in this valley of tears…”

And you are struck, rather unfairly, by beauty. You shake it off – I’m a busy man, I don’t have time for her – and then you’re side-swiped by this:

To which you say, “Please, no, I’m very fragile. I just came out of a serious relationship and I have commitment issues and I’m insecure about the way I look and – ” Then you hear her speak:

Your head and your heels switch places, and you make some desperately awkward attempt to kiss her. This might be made manifest in the taking on of some devotion, the sudden attempt to understand what on earth is going on around you, or a newfound, annoyed blush when someone laughingly dismisses a Church teaching. You didn’t mean this to happen, by accounts. One cannot control love! you explain to your disapproving mother.
So you start dating. Life is good. You start to tell people about your lover. What annoyed you once – candles are literally everywhere, old ladies never leave the building – you now find endearing. You have a great schedule of conversation, of dating. Honestly, you’d be content to dwell in this existence forever, this wonderful, mutual exchange of affection. But then she demands something. Your entire life. Everything. All of you. 
Who knows how she’ll propose this to you. She’ll call you, give you that dreaded, “We need to talk,” and your priest will casually mentioned that we are called to die for the faith. Or you’ll accidentally pick up The Imitation of Christ. However it comes, you are presented with an ultimatum by your lover. And love demands you accept her terms: so you marry the Church. You sell out. You give her everything, because you know she loves you. And there really is no going back. 

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01049723287624178155 Fr. Denis Lemieux

    This is awesome – thanks. Exactly my experience, and very funny to boot.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09357573787143230160 Leila @ Little Catholic Bubble

    I adore this.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05629132804649152538 Cari

    Oh man, this is beautiful.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10759408320284765310 klh57

    Okay, you had me with "The Princess Bride"…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16679339425160990252 JDH

    Dude. Great stuff.

  • Oddy

    I love your whole blog, I just discovered it a couple weeks ago and I went back and read every post. I haven't commented but this post is so great! The Princess Bride? Awesome. Old ladies never leave the building? Priceless. Accidentally picked up The Imitation of Christ? Hilarious. The best part, She demands all of you.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08057654080632377742 Kara

    Beautiful and absolutely perfect!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17624589296171657699 egosumbarb

    Very nice…and very true. I think the rest of the comments here pretty much sum up the awesomeness that is this post.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07224387870248366957 Yes, I’m Catholic

    I can't even express how great this post is. So, you want to write a column? God certainly gave you the skills to move people with your words. You express yourself perfectly. Think about writing a book as well.

  • Brian
  • http://twsumrall.wordpress.com/ twsumrall

    Wow. This is perhaps the best way I've ever heard it put, and something I relate so much to. I was received and confirmed into the Catholic Church this past Easter by my Bishop after a lifetime as a Lutheran and a couple of years as an Anglican, and I can honestly say I've never been so in love. I have a deep and abiding affair going on with the Church, one I will never regret nor be ashamed of.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10775592484866509189 Karyn

    This is so well put! When I converted, I totally became all dorky about the Church. I can't stop talking about Her, even though I know most people are sick of hearing me. And I can't figure out why other people aren't totally infatuated like I am.

    • James

      I am just converting now and will be received on the 7th of April… I am so exited! I know how you fell, totally I do!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03836634127448740415 Matthew

    Great meditation on Catholicism Marc – Love the emphasis on beauty. The Chesterton "steak, red wine, and cigar" quote I've always found appropriate too. Catholicism is rich, savory, sensual, satiating, and lavish – everything you could need and want and more. But your metaphor trumps Chesterton – she is, after all, the Bride.

  • Anonymous

    Pretty much sums up my own conversion.But then she demands something. Your entire life. Everything. All of you. She didn't even have to ask in my case.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16399041825712345756 Kiernan M.

    that is exactly how I feel every time I recite the "Salve Regina." Do you ever sing it in Latin alone and in the silence of your car just because your heart swells ever so much when you do it and there is no one else to hear it but her? Because I do….

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00256922371357529056 Juventutem London

    Posted on facebook!But you wouldn't sleep through Mass if it was the Old Mass!

  • Stephanie

    Lecrae raps a song about it- called "The Bride" it's beautiful!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXHOZzq1bAg&feature;=related

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10826907710570316952 Richard Collins

    Great post and blog. Adding you to my blogroll as we speak.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11566054857476358767 anita

    Sweetpea! Confirmation, writing what I have not been able to express to my bewildered friends…Much love

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12703624827512325377 Stasia P.

    Praise God! Keep writing! :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07773839921163694263 ~Cita

    Love.This.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18377649921840754900 Emily Byrd Starr

    I thoroughly enjoyed the allusions to the Church's beauty as being a magnet for people falling in love with her — the texts, the stained glass windows, Bach's B Minor Mass. Beauty is so often underestimated these days as a huge draw for people to Catholicism. Forget commercialized Catholicism – give the world beauty! In the words of Dostoyevsky, "Beauty will save the world."

  • http://marychapman.wordpress.com/ marychapman

    I can only laugh about how insanely TRUE this post is… and how utterly relieved I am that I'm not the only crazy person that feels exactly like this!! You nailed it, Marc. Great, great post!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10094756369530433566 The Catholic Couponer

    Great Post! And it's SOOOO true! Let me know if you ever want to guest blog on my catholic blog. I'm looking for some bloggers to write on the new missal. http://www.thecatholiccouponer.blogspot.com

  • Linda

    My thoughts were: My God, yes, yes; that’s exactly right.

  • Gt Tdub

    Your discription of what is it like to become a Catholic is both accurate and amusing. As a convert of some 30 years, I am still very much in love with the Church. But not the wonderful archeture or the magnificent music particularity . I fell in love with He whom she worships and adores, Jesus Christ,our Lord!

  • Guest

    You described to a tee everything I have felt over the past four years. Brilliant.
    I am being baptised this April 7th.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/Y7KPPA7BYDQKL22UD65EGKLGHQ Elizabeth

    Oh Marc, I love this one so much. I think I want to share it on Facebook the day I make my first Communion. I wish you could fix the missing image though!

  • http://www.animavoluminis.blogspot.com/ Timothy

    Lovely