Readers of my blog the last few weeks will have noticed that there have been more references to my Catholic faith than usual. That’s actually to be expected: we’re in Lent right now, and a major purpose of the penitential practices for this season is to draw one’s attention back to matters of faith. So I’ve been thinking about it more, and that means I’ve been talking about it more.
But don’t misunderstand: the fact that I didn’t talk about it much before doesn’t mean it wasn’t there. My Catholic faith affects everything I say and do. It has for years.
But I’ve always felt like it was more important to witness by example (words are meaningless if actions don’t match) and that a “conversion” accomplished through fear or force is inherently suspect (it’s compliance, not conversion).
I also know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I’m anything but a saint. I have no business passing judgment on others. Unfortunately, “passing judgment” is a subjective phrase and in today’s social environment, merely speaking about your faith can be construed as doing just that. If you try to talk about how you live that faith, it gets even worse.
My response is simple: I answer questions when asked. I don’t shy away from making references to it. But I keep in mind that most people’s (both Catholic and non-Catholic) perception of the Church is skewed by sound bites and misrepresentations, and adjust what I say accordingly.
Someone commented recently that she was glad I was on the “fringe” of Catholicism. I understand that she meant that as a compliment and take the statement accordingly; but make no mistake. I assent to all of the Church’s teachings, including the controversial ones, and that’s nothing new. Neither is my choice to live my faith quietly and with an understanding that not everyone around me shares it.
So if my more frequent references in writing and speech bother you, please let me assure you. I’m not turning away from what I was. I’m not changing. I’m just a little more consciously aware of matters of faith during Lent, and that’s going to show up in my words.
The important part, though, is whether or not it shows in my deeds.