31 8 / 2014
charleythehouseplant said: May I ask if there was a particular reason why you're catholic (as opposed to Lutherian or something) or if that was just the way it turned out?
Well, it’s partly inherited—I’m an Irish Catholic from a long line of Irish Catholics, and there’s a part of my world that doesn’t make sense without Sunday mass and homilies and the smell of incense. The church calendar orders my world; I know my extended family through a succession of white dresses and suits (baptisms, first communions, weddings). It’s so strange to me that there are people who don’t get homesick at summer camp and pray the rosary, because they might not have their mom with them, but they can cry to Mary and she’ll listen.
(that’s not a judgement, I’m not saying it’s better it’s just one of those things where—I don’t know what else could fit in that space)
And the other part is—I love the stupid religion. Despite all the dark history, the Vatican politics, the list of sins it’s racked up over the centuries—despite everything, I genuinely, really love my church. I love its its history, early church fathers struggling to figure out this strange Hellenistic Messianic Judaism thing, with desert prophets making miracles; the church of Constantinople, glittering on the crown of the Mediterranean; the church of medieval Rome, clinging to power by its teeth and the marriage of dying Italian families to invading barbarians, with monks in brown robes sailing to rocky islands where they can. I love the high church, cathedrals and grey rows of saints, with long faces and long fingers held up in chi-ro. Renaissance art and nuns writing books when women were supposed to be seen and not heard; ecstatic visions and universities and soup kitchens and schools and people saying prayers, humbling themselves, thinking about the world and serving and leading revolutions and protesting and—
I love the fact that every Sunday, I go and do and say almost the exact same thing that has been done and said for two thousand years. An unbroken line back to the apostles, of people both terrible and saintly but mostly just people.
I love the Bible. It’s a strange and sprawling thing, ugly and magnificent, heavy with thousands of years of scholarship and hope. I love the theology of my church, that talks about sin and heaven and bread and emptying yourself to be filled with God, that lifts up Mary and the weak, and the humble; that admits a humanity so fallible enough to fall from grace, but still possessing enough of it to reach for the perfection we sense within ourselves. Redeemable. And given a redeemer.
It is a very human thing, for me, a thing that spans the universe and lives in my cardiac muscle and—no, there isn’t a particular reason I’m Catholic, it’s the reason for everything else.