The more time I spend in the Catholic Church and the more time I spend speaking with different Catholics, I find that there are more ways to celebrate our faith than I would have ever imagined. I think this is one of the most beautiful parts of the faith and fully believe that people should celebrate their faith in any way that brings them closer to God.
Even though I say that and fully believe it, I find myself trying to practice my Catholic faith in ways that won’t lead to me being confused with other Christians and even other Catholics. When I’m with my secular friends I choose my words very carefully to make sure they don’t get my faith confused with the faith of people who go completely against science. Even in my faith practices, I try to pray in ways that don’t make me look overly pious in my actions so people don’t confuse me with other overly pious Catholics.
How do I find ways to practice my Catholic faith, then? I can tell you it’s a struggle. I see many young people practice this overly pious Catholicism that often seems so unwelcoming that I try to avoid doing anything that resembles it in the slightest. Obviously, that is a slippery slope and can lead to ill-conceived judgments of people and a break from my Catholic identity.
So what should I do? I have been spending so much time trying to avoid being put in the same category as biblical fundamentalists Christians and overly pious Catholics, that I’m struggling to find a way to practice my faith that works for me.
I think I, as well as other struggling Catholics, first need to know it is okay to struggle with our faith and we should constantly be struggling with how to deepen our relationship with God. Secondly, I believe that we must find that fine line between popular piety and practicing the faith we believe to be true. Somewhere in there is a place where we can be authentic with our relationship with God and our practices aren’t just a thing we do. My faith should no longer be a response to someone else’s, but a response to my relationship with God.
I would love to hear how other people have found that place I am struggling to find. Go ahead and share your experience in the comments below.