Yesterday, I wrote a 200 word post about why I am Catholic. It was a prompt from the Patheos editors, a little push to get a wide sample of raisons d’etre from all the bloggers across the different faith channels. I loved writing it, because I always love looking back at those who have propelled me along my faith journey.
But today, I was baking bread and watching my 4 year old play with my 6 month old, and a package arrived from my mom, containing all kinds of various Easter goodies for my kids and a few little goodies for the Ogre and I. It hit me all at once that on this blog, I have too-long ignored the two people who spent decades, losing countless hours of sleep and gaining countless gray hairs in the process, to give me a spiritual foundation.
My parents raised me to love Christ, and I mean to really love him. Prayer, the Scriptures, leading by example, sacrificing everything for my siblings and I, showing us what it means to love at the same time that they told us what it means to love, all for that end goal of raising children who would be united to Christ. Who would follow Truth and be Good. Who would have beautiful souls, and who would go on to change the world for the better.
I have so many memories of my parents trying to teach me right from wrong. I never made it easy for them. From the beginning, I seemed to want to go the other way. Not toward anything in particular, just away from whatever they wanted for me. They’d lay a path before me and try to set my feet upon it and I’d pull a 180 and sneer at their concern, chafe under their rules, and rail bitterly against them in my head and sometimes with my words.
One time, when I was giving my parents hell during my tumultuous, troubled early teenage years and they were valiantly refusing to lay down and take it or let me have my way, I mustered up the most hateful look I could find and spat words at my father to express all that loathing I felt. I have never, and will never, forget what he said to me.
“Calah, you can hate me if you want. If your hatred is the price I have to pay to get you to do the right thing, I’ll pay it.”
And I made them pay it, again and again, much to my shame.
Sometimes I worry that they think all those years of struggle were for naught. It’s no secret that there’s no love lost between Catholics and Protestants. But in spite of all the doctrinal differences, some of them minor, some admittedly huge, my parents gave me the gift of Christ. From my earliest years Christ was with me, an ever-present source of comfort and angst in my life, but always there. There were times when I doubted Christianity, but even then I never really doubted it. In the deepest part of me, I knew that Christ was truth, and that truth never abandoned me. And for that, I have only my parents to thank.
It’s far too easy for me now, with my 7 long years of parenting behind me, to speak with the vast amount of wisdom I’ve accrued and criticize everything my parents did. I could have done it better, I’m sure, and nipped all those problems in the bud, and raised the best children that ever graced the face of the earth. After all, everything is clearest in hindsight, and children eternally know more than their parents about everything. (Am I right, teenagers of the world?)
But the truth is that if I can reach the end of my days and look upon my children, and if they have matured into people who love Christ and desire truth and goodness, I will count myself blessed beyond measure. My parents can do this. I know it’s painful for them to not be able to go to Church with us, for us not to go with them, to be separated by the same schism that has ripped the body of Christ to shreds for centuries. It’s painful for me too. But I believe one day that we will sit together in glory and worship the Love who gave life to all of us, and everything will make sense, and there will be no more divisions, no more pain.
UD and the people there may have given me Catholicism, but my parents gave me Christ. There can be no Catholicism without Christ. I wouldn’t have the life I have now without Christ. I wouldn’t be raising my children the way I am. I probably wouldn’t have these children at all, nor this husband, nor all the blessings God has given me.
So thank you, Mom and Dad. You gave me the best foundation possible. I hope and pray I am able to do half as well by my kids as you did by me. And I’m sorry it took me so long to say it.