Are you a practicing Catholic? That was the rather impertinent question a friend on mine was asked by another guest at a dinner party. They had been discussing “Church” issues and my friend had shared her opinion that married priests and women priests might not really be harbingers of the end of the world. The other guest responded to my friend’s declaration with the question: “Are you a practicing Catholic?” My friend, who is much quicker on her feet than I am, replied: “Yes, and I’m going to keep practicing until I get it right.”
Now if the truth be told, I don’t think the person who asked my friend if she was a practicing Catholic was really interested in her answer. Rather I suspect she did so to suggest that somehow her ideas disqualified her from being a “real” Catholic.
Perhaps it is my imagination, but it seems to me that more and more often in our Church today people think it is okay, not just to question someone’s thinking, but also to question their faith in general, and more specifically their loyalty to the Catholic Church and their “bona fides” as a real Catholic. Frankly, this disturbs me.
I am increasingly concerned by those who choose certain issues and make them a litmus test for whether one is a practicing Catholic, or even a Catholic at all. Personally, I don’t know anyone who is 100% in accord with the Catholic Church 100% of the time. Certainly even the most saintly among us had gotten angry, or made a judgment about someone, or had failed to share with those in need, or had a jealous thought, or ………… you name it.
We are all flawed and imperfect human beings who try hard to live rightly and in accord with the beliefs and tenets of our faith. Often, though, for a variety of reasons, we fail in our efforts. Does that really mean, though, that we aren’t practicing Catholics? Well, I don’t know about anyone else, but I’d like to think that we are all practicing Catholic, and like my friend that we will keep practicing until we get it right.