Catholic Husband

Love / Lead / Serve

Not for the Comfortable

Catholics tend to each have their way of practicing their faith. Thankfully, Alison and I found a parish near our home that fits ours. But, unfortunately, we weren't so lucky on Ash Wednesday.

We planned to go to the evening Mass at our parish together at 6:30 pm. By 4 pm, we were both done with work and home. We decided that we couldn't wait until 7:30 pm for dinner.  (Something about fasting?) So we scoured the internet and found an earlier Mass near us.

When looking for a home parish, we "interviewed" several parishes. The parish we attended for Ash Wednesday did not make the cut, and our experience reminded us why.

The community is lax. The priest didn't have a seat of honor; he sat in a row of choir chairs in front of the first pew. Jesus had a cute corner tucked away on the side of the Church. While 25% of the pews were remotely oriented in His direction, at least a third were oriented away from Him. Every cross depicted the Resurrected Christ. The only reverencing the Altar received was at the entrance and recessional processions. People went to Communion with their hands in their jean pockets.

Then it hit me. How could anyone expect respect from a community where Catholicism is so easy? There's no suffering here; Christ wasn't bleeding on the cross after horrific torture. Instead, he was the Buddy Jesus. Catholicism was a lovely, comfy couch or a new pair of sweats.

People respect people and organizations that stand for something. When you challenge individuals, they rise to the occasion. The martyrs embrace this reality. On the other hand, it doesn't inspire much of anything when faith is sanitized and made easy. We have an innate desire to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. We innately know that anything challenging must be worth doing.

We sanitize marriage, too. Most Catholic marriage prep is a joke; a questionnaire and a half-day "retreat." We use "forgiveness" as a pass to do whatever we want. We define it however we want and let others do the same.

Catholicism isn't easy, and neither is marriage. Marriage is war. It's not spouse versus spouse, but spouses versus the world. You have to fight, claw, and defend your marriage. If you don't have the heart of a fighter, if you won't take a beating for what you love, then don't get married.

We all lose battles. St. Peter lost. But look at the difference between St. Peter and Judas. St. Peter lost the battle and won the war. He took the loss, got up, and kept fighting.

Marriage isn't for the meek, fainthearted, or the comfortable. It isn't easy, cozy, or convenient. But it is worth it.