Being a Catholic girl at university, it’s always interesting the assumptions I encounter from others:
“Oh, Catholic hmmmm?” and then they proceed to give you an ocular pat down to identify whether you align with the images they hold in their head, which can range from homeschoolers wearing floor length jean skirts to promiscuous Catholic school girls with plaid mini skirts and knee socks.
One time someone asked me with a smile if I was really Catholic, like an actual Catholic who believed in *gasp* “the Eucharist and stuff”; their face fell into an uncomfortable smile when I answered yes.
I thought I’d give a little insight into the, actually, pretty normal, human mind of a girl who believes in, ya know, the Eucharist and stuff.
Let’s begin with mass, the sacrament integral to the life of a practicing Catholic: it’s something I go to at least once a week on Sundays, and whenever I can during the weekdays as well. I love the mass, it’s beautiful, and it’s theological and intellectual history and meanings are fascinating. However, as an awkward and impatient person, I can get awkward and uncomfortable during various parts of the mass.
Like when I accidentally sing the wrong words to a hymn or response and try to pass it off like I didn’t just sing “Have mercy on us” instead of “Grant us peace”.
When I’m trying to pray during the Liturgy of the Eucharist, but anything that possibly can distract me starts percolating in my mind, and my head is anywhere but present to the miracle of transubstantiation occurring before me:
Or when the sign of peace comes around and people wanna hug me, but interiorly I’m always struggling with my steel-walled personal space bubble
In my mind I’m constantly sorting people into “hugger” or “shaker” categories so I can be prepared.
Occasionally I get anxiety that I’m not receiving the Eucharist in a properly pious way, because I always receive with my hands, but thinking about receiving on my tongue gives me even more anxiety at the prospect of messing up.
I can’t be the only one that laughs at how strange it sounds when, at the end of mass, the priest says, “Go in peace, the mass is ended” and the congregation responds, “Thanks be to God!” right?
Before confession, I’m always going through the same mental circle:
Telling God, upon examination of my conscience and life choices,
And then in confession I’m always wondering if I’ve missed something important
And afterwards that feeling while I’m praying my penance in the pew
I’m Catholic, but I’m still a college kid. Which can sometimes complicate things. Like when I’m trying to discern the proper line between ‘drinking to hilarity’ and not being overly intoxicated,
Or when I really want to vent about a person/professor/group but I’m simultaneously torn because I’m all too aware that I have only negative feelings and “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”,
As I’ve come to discern my vocation, I’ve discovered a fabulous new game to play called, “Watching reactions when I tell them my ultimate dream is to teach theology at a Catholic high school”. It’s fun.
On Fridays during Lent, when you’re supposed to abstain from meat, I don’t realize what day it is until around 3 pm and then my mind whirs furiously to try to remember what I’ve eaten that day thus far
Being a Catholic among the messy political atmosphere that currently characterizes our nation can be extra trying in college, where insults fly and attitudes of smug condescension towards those of opposing sides can creep in insidiously. Catholics have issues with both parties, so being stuck within this antagonistic two party system can be a bit of a nightmare…
Per usual college student things, I have gotten several tattoos, and for me, there’s a special little joy that I get from feeling like I’m defying stigmas that put all Catholics in a box
But really, tattoos have come to mean a lot to me, because it’s like writing on my skin my own imperfection, like letting the world know that although outwardly things may seem effortless, inwardly we all struggle. I like the idea of etching my need for God into my skin.
Because otherwise my efforts to fix my faults on my own look like
and I’m constantly running into the unavoidable fact of humanity’s fall
The Divine Mercy embraced and promulgated within Catholicism is such a beautiful part of the religion.
One of the many, many reasons why, despite the fails and breakdowns and awkward signs of peace, etc.,
being Catholic is awesome 🙂