When I first came to Catholicism, understand I came as an ex-fundamentalist. As such, there was an invisible moral leesh, so to speak, I felt I possessed for quite some time. There is no longer a “leesh,” as I no longer allow myself to conform to any moral standard because of societal or religious pressure (which, here in the Bible Belt, is great) but rather out of sincere love. It became meaningless for me, I think, to follow norms and standards promulgated by my Baptist faith solely to be “morally upright.” I couldn’t–and can’t–do it. I really have to be moved out of a sincere love of God.
During the first little bit of my transition from fundamentalism to Catholicism, I was still very much an ardent, puritanical Baptist at heart–without realizing it. I decided then to follow the holy Catholic Church’s teachings without reservation or question. Orthodoxy. Good ol’ orthodoxy. I was really alarmed by Catholics who admittedly struggled with certain Church teachings–however small their concerns might have been. “How can you call yourself a Catholic!” was my internal–never external–reaction.
Well, I get it now. I really do. I’m a 14-year-old living in a region wrought with extremes: all-out puritanism or outright atheism. The latter would be so much more appealing were it not for the sanity I find in Catholicism. I have the media, peer pressure, all that good stuff, to deal with. I also find myself experiencing SSA very strongly. Usually it provokes questions and legitimate concerns rather than all-out faith crises. Still, it’s made me re-examine Church teachings in a great many areas. I never ceased to be amazed by the Church’s rationale–and sympathy–but have become able to interrupt my own biases long enough to also think outside of the Church. I agree it’s her duty to teach on faith and morals and help our consciences become aligned with God’s will, but she cannot force us to accept a single dogma–as it should be.
I’m in love with my new faith but find myself less orthodox at times than I would have liked to imagine myself. I think this has been the experience of all sincere Catholics–I’ve noticed the most devout, incredible people I know in the Church are very open about such struggles.
And the whole thing got me thinking. I want to know: What Church teaching do you have the most trouble with? Why? How has it affected your life?
Please, really, no need to immaculatize your accounts. Just be honest and blunt about your doubts and fears. The makings of any great saint start with a virtue as simple as true vulnerability.