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Back in November, Fr. Steven gave a wonderful homily that I have been thinking about more and more. He is wont to tell stories in his homilies and is often very funny. This particular one was a story about how he had run to the grocery store still in his vestments because he had a little time before guests were coming over for dinner and needed to grab a desert, and in his rush had not changed. He was standing in the bakery section of the Safeway, in full attire, holding a fruit tart and a package of cupcakes and trying to decide what to get when he realized this man was looking at him and giving him a dirty look. Fr. Steven decided to ignore him, and go on with his decision-making. The man would not stop staring. He said he really wanted to say something, but was quite aware that it would not look good if a Catholic priest, completely decked out, holding a fruit tart turned to your average Joe and yelled “WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT?!” Instead, he just said “good evening” smiled, took his dessert and walked away. The moral of the story was that we should all be unabashedly Catholic. That we should not be ashamed to stick out like sore thumbs in this world of ours, to be beacons of light, or subjects of curiosity. He said it is of utmost importance because no one else is ashamed of their religion, not the Methodists, not the Mormons, and certainly not the atheists.
That homily came at a right time for me, as I had recently gotten into a…. discussion on Facebook with a friend of mine and felt ashamed that now everyone knew I was one of those “crazy Catholics.” Sometimes I was even ashamed of being Catholic among Catholics; I struggled with wearing my mantilla at first because I thought people would view me as trying to look more pious than everyone else. I keep revisiting this statement over and over again, whenever I feel like I should bite my tongue so as not to upset or offend someone or back off of my beliefs when I come up against someone who disagrees with them. Not long ago, one of Hubbs’ co-workers (who had at one point straight-up grilled me on my religious beliefs at one of his company functions) called me a “religious fanatic” because she misunderstood something I had told her during the grilling session. Yesterday, my co-worker (who I like very much) made a comment about how practicing NFP couldn’t be good for my marriage. She gave all the worldly reasons “Isn’t it hard not being able to get caught up in the passion of the moment?” “Doesn’t your husband have a hard time with it?” “I don’t understand why you can’t just use condoms” She drew a direct parallel between NFP and my husband possibly cheating on me; she even went so far as to making me feel bad that Hubbs is more open to having a baby sooner rather than later and therefore I was denying him sex because I don’t want to have kids right now. Yikes. I didn’t know what to say. So I told her what I know. I told her the reasons behind NFP, I told her that I feel more respected, cherished and loved in my marriage than I ever did before we started using it, I told her it was a mutual decision entirely, and that Hubbs actually pushed for it more than I did in the beginning. I told her how we have a different level of intimacy because he understands all about what happens in my body now, whereas most husbands only know that their wives are on their periods and therefore can’t have sex (bummer). I felt like I did a good job stating my position and being unabashedly Catholic. I’m not gonna lie: I was totally offended. But I also felt sad that she is so of this world that she can’t even really understand, because she is too worried about her husband’s urges and whether or not he will cheat on her if she doesn’t give in to them. I felt bad about it for about 10 minutes, I really did. Then I was angry, and then I was glad that I stood my ground on it.
Is this what it’s like to be unabashedly Catholic? Do I have to defend myself against people who have issues with my beliefs? It seems so unfair, doesn't it? I’m not running around calling people out on their beliefs, asking them explain themselves, rolling my eyes, crossing my arms and saying “well, I guess I just don’t understand.” I mean, come on, anyone of any other faith system (including none at all) can put out books every single day about how Catholicism is wrong, but you tell someone about a new book coming out called “Why Catholics are Right” and people scoff as if I said “Why people actually have three ears.” But then, only Catholics had their religion illegal in this country founded on religious freedom until after the Revolutionary war. Only Catholics are being accused of allowing illegal immigration in an effort to stage a reconquista and “Romanize”
. Only Catholics are standing out like sore thumbs in a secular world and PC country. So yes, let’s be unabashedly Catholic. Let’s tell people all those “strange” things we do like not eating meat on Friday and practicing NFP and, oh, I don’t know, standing by our beliefs regardless of what people think of us and them. Some of my not-so-distant ancestors actually died for the right to be Catholic, and I am afraid someone will give me a dirty look? If the world has a problem with us, I for one will assume I am doing something right. America