While I am proud of being a practicing Roman Catholic, there are times when I would like to run and hide and pretend that I have no association with the Faith of my infancy.
It seems to happen over and over- my husband or I will attend an event designed for evangelizing other Catholics and nearly every time, we seem to run across a few judgmental and angry people. They are the type who will look down upon others whom they do not feel worthy of being in their presence or worthy of attending the event. Maybe they don’t worship the right way, or sing the right songs, or volunteer in the right ministries. Or perhaps they are not considered holy enough. I just don’t know.
It happened again this week when my husband attended a men’s event designed to bring holiness to the family and into the Church. Several of the men could not smile or laugh, no matter who tried to engage them. They seemed to be critical, sullen and moody and perhaps taking their role as a Catholic father and man much too seriously. I am not saying that we should not treat our Faith seriously, but for crying out loud, smile once in a while! Show a little joy. Sure there is Catholic persecution but it should not come from the members of our own faith. We do not need to judge others as to who is holier than the other. It is not important to bring up the sins of another or treat them as if they are insignificant, while probably wallowing in their own hidden transgressions.
We encourage the sacrament of reconciliation and suggest frequent trips to the confessional. Yet, we seem to be so wrapped up in our own righteousness that we fail to see that the man or woman in front of us may have already been forgiven for their sins and yet, we choose to condemn them. No one knows the heart of the man or the woman except God. It is easy to judge the person next to you for not living up to your expectations of what you think they should be doing or not doing. No one knows the history of the person in the pew, except God–just as, nobody knows the intentions of another, except God.
Even with well known sinners in the Church and outside the Church, we do not know their heart and whether or not they have asked for forgiveness. Perhaps that person had an abusive childhood or marriage. Perhaps that person is ill. Perhaps that person has already made reparations for their actions.
Instead of condemning, it might be helpful to speak with that person, get to know them, and welcome them as Jesus welcomes them. I bring these issues up because I have been that person. And sadly, I have also been a judgmental Catholic. I am a sinner and yet I have been forgiven. It does no good to attend conferences, rallies, or Bible studies if we cannot open ourselves up to being Christ for others. If we can learn from this, perhaps we will be the welcoming Church that we propose to be.
Please don’t be an angry Catholic as I have seen it turn away way too many people. Let’s love each other as Jesus loves us. Please