Maybe some of you know but maybe some of you don’t know that I had a slight mental meltdown a few months ago when I took down all my public social media and declared that I didn’t even know if I was going to stay Catholic. Welp, the update is that I am still, in fact, Catholic. That meltdown came before any of the current drama. Before the PA grand jury report, before the McCarrick story broke and before the latest news that seems to be getting worse and worse every day.
Needless to say that I was already feeling very shaky in my faith and very unsteady in what I believed or didn’t believe and all of this news did not make it any easier. For one thing, I am a victim of childhood sex abuse. I know that doesn’t seem to mean much to some people in the Catholic blogosphere but it means a lot to me because I have spent my entire motherhood protecting my children from everyone out of fear of them being abused. I am overly cautious and highly protective of my kids. I talked to my children frankly about grooming and abuse at a very young age, which might not have been the best idea and I made them all hyper-aware that there are people in the world who would hurt them. Also might not have been the best thing, but at the time, it was what I felt would be the best thing to do. So coming to read page after page about how the Catholic Church knew that priests were doing horrific things to children and ignored those things and kept reassigning those monsters to place with access to more victims scared the hell out of me. I have spent the last 8 years thinking that my children are safe in the walls of the Church. While I am still very trusting of my parish and all of the priests who have been in contact with my children, I still am beside myself at the level of cover-up and corruption in the PA report as a mother and as a sex abuse survivor/victim. I feel like I should have known all of this information when I decided to become Catholic.
The last few weeks have been even more of a faith crisis for me. I would say I even went beyond a crisis. I didn’t go to Mass yesterday and I did not feel one single ounce of guilt for it. I didn’t want to go because I was taught that I would go to hell if I didn’t. I wanted to go because I believed and because I want to be Catholic, not as some sense of obligation to teachings I am not even sure of anymore. What if it is all a lie? That is where I was when I woke up this morning.
If I were anyone else I would have ended up an atheist by noon today. But instead I started classes at my Catholic college which is also a seminary and I was on the Catholic Channel on Jennifer Fulwiler’s show. Also, I was lucky enough to get an email from someone telling me that I had nothing to offer a Catholic audience with my mental health deteriorating and so I should not go on the radio. The subject was literally “do not go on the radio today”. Thankfully God made me with a stubborn streak and anyone who knows me well knows that the best way to make sure I do something is to tell me not to do it. So off I went to be on Catholic radio when I was not even sure if I believe Catholicism is true anymore.
It was the best decision I could have made.
Jen took calls to ask her listeners what they would tell people who are beginning RCIA in this time in Church History. Each caller answered that question in some way that reminded me of why I made the choice to be Catholic and it wasn’t because Bishops are awesome, or because I didn’t know about the abuse scandal or because I loved the Pope. I will be honest with you, I didn’t really care for Pope Benedict when I converted. I didn’t even care much when he went right by me in Rome other than I realized that he was the successor of St. Peter. I came to love Pope Benedict after my conversion.
I had lost sight of what it was that led me here and also I lost sight of what a gift of Grace it is to know that the Eucharist is the True Presence of Christ. For that last 18 months, I have been asking God “where are You? Where were you when Anthony died?” and I’ve asked priests and friends the same question “where is God?”. Today I remembered: He is always in my parish. He is everywhere but during those times when I need concrete proof that He is here, I can drive 5 minutes up the road and sit with Him.
Not everyone feels that peace sitting there staring at a tabernacle. It is Grace. It is not anything I have done to earn it at all. And there are times when I stare at the tabernacle and wonder if I am insane to think God is in there. But I have never regretted going anyway.
If you are someone who doesn’t feel that, I am sorry and I am not trying to make light of how you feel. I really hate when people say things that seem so flippant when I am feeling abandoned by God and like He is nowhere to be found. I know it is a gift to feel peace in Adoration and I don’t know why I feel it and others don’t.
As I type this I feel it. I was reminded today that I am still Catholic and not just because I am baptized one, but because I want to be here. I want to get myself together and help rebuild this Church. The only thing I can do to make that happen is the next right thing.