Hi all. Just wanted to share my unique Catholic experience that I believe might work well for our modern world. It seems that a paradigm shift has occurred in the last few decades between INVOLUNTARY sacrificial living (blind Catholicism) and VOLUNTARY sacrificial living (chosen Catholicism). Previous generations went from blind faith, large families, and seemingly involuntary poverty to today’s generation that has relative wealth and is being sucked into a life of shallow amusements instead of a lives of sacrificial, romantic love and depth. There must be a happy medium!
I’ll make it brief and to the point: I was a fairly obedient Catholic growing up. As such, I was a little on innocent side. College philosophy really opened my mind to all of the possibilities from Catholicism down to atheism. Like DesCartes, the father of modern phiosophy, my enlightened choice was Catholicism.
I was fortunate to meet a young woman was also Catholic, who once considered leaving the Church. We dated in the modern way, but once we got married, we started taking NFP classes because birth control was hard on her body. (Yes, I’ve gone to confession.) We abstained for a long time before our wedding day in order to make it more special, and wow did it work. The voluntary sacrifice was something I don’t think I would have done as a child. I kept hearing the reading “When I was a child, I thought as a child…”
The voluntary sacrifice of abstaining during NFP made us stronger, like our lenten sacrifice. Our sacrifices seemed to make us stronger, which, in turn allowed us to sacrifice even more. As we had two or three kids, life seemed to get really difficult between work, raising the kids, lack of time to be selfish, etc. There were days when I didn’t know how I could continue to manage the balance between wanting to be selfish by persuing my own interests versus sacrificing more time for our obligations.
What was most ironic was that by the time we had 5 kids, we were committed and obligated to spend most of the time with them anyway, doing simple, fun, childish activities like playing freeze tag in the yard. I was amazed by how much fun it was. Simple is good. We tried taking a fancy vacation, but packing five kids does not mesh well with one’s desire to be selfish. When we had less kids and more relative freedom and wealth, I felt constantly pulled in the direction of shallow amusements. I felt like I was always riding on a fence, knowing that committment was on one side and selfishness was on the other. The freedom was paralyzing (how ironic). Once I made a deeper committment to teh Church and the responsibility of more kids, the OTHER (selfishness) side of the fence seems like LESS of an option! (how ironic). My wife and I have grown together in the faith through study and retreats. I now deeply appreciate those rare fleeting moments of selfishness versus the relative hedonist I used to be. This new life has rocked me to the depths of my bones and depths of my being. What a fool I’ve been for so many years!
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound…