Never forget Hilaire Belloc’s description of the Catholic Church: “An institute run with such knavish imbecility that if it were not the work of God it would not last a fortnight.”
Retain a high view of the Holy Spirit. Retain a high view of the mystical reality that is the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Do not retain a high view of her members, who are, after all, sinners in desperate need of redemption before they are saints in glory. Jesus deliberately set things up to remind us of this. As the Prophet Chesterton reminds us:
Mr. Shaw cannot understand that the thing which is valuable and lovable in our eyes is man—the old beer-drinking, creed-making, fighting, sensual, respectable man. And the things that have been founded on this creature immortally remain; the things that have been founded on the fancy of the Superman have died with the dying civilizations which alone have given them birth. When Christ at a symbolic moment was establishing His great society, He chose for its corner-stone neither the brilliant Paul nor the mystic John, but a shuffler, a snob, a coward—in a word, a man. And upon this rock He has built His Church, and the gates of Hell have not prevailed against it. All the empires and the kingdoms failed, because of this inherent and continual weakness, that they were founded by strong men and upon strong men. But this one thing, the historic Christian Church, was founded on a weak man, and for that reason it is indestructible. For no chain is stronger than its weakest link.
I *like* that the Catholic Church is so transparently inept and so plainly filled with such obviously failed and ridiculous people, not only among us laity, but throughout the ranks of its clerics as well. My abiding sense, ever since converting, has been one of relief. In sectarian Protestantism, the question is always whether you are pure enough, whether you are a “real Christian”, whether your “really meant it” when you asked Jesus into your heart, whether your latest grotesque failure means your whole life as a Christian has been one huge fraud. The great thing about the Catholic communion is that it begins every single act of worship with the Confiteor in which we all look at each other and say, “Who am I kidding? i don’t belong here any more than you do, so let’s pray for each other and ask the the Graduates in Heaven to put in a good word for us, trusting that God will cut us slack again just so long as we keep cutting each other slack.” It’s a place where there’s room for me: a screwup who can’t tell my butt from a hole in the ground who has no business darkening the door of a Church, much less brazenly walking up there and receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Almighty God, if you please. The whole project is so outrageous from beginning to end that my only excuse is that God tells all these other people they not only can but must do it, so I guess it’s okay that a dubious jerk like me does it too.