I hardly ever went to church growing up, which is kind of surprising considering my family’s history. My grandmother was in the convent and my grandfather was a Catholic priest for 20 years. But, more on that later.
Throughout the years, my family would sometimes go in spurts, attempting to reconnect with Jesus and become regulars. But it would never last more than a few weeks due to busy schedules and resistant children. I don’t blame my younger self and brother for not wanting to go. Sometimes, I wonder if it says in the Bible that it is mandatory for church to be boring.
Since I left for college, I have not been to church at all. Prior to this past Sunday, it’s been about three years — even longer since the last time I was in a Roman Catholic church, which is the denomination my family subscribes to.
Over the last few years, I’ve been meaning to go back to church for various reasons. The way I think, my beliefs, opinions and knowledge of the world are all drastically different than the last time I went to church, and I am curious to see what my thoughts are during a service.
I also have this innate feeling that I have to go and guilt for not going, whether that is because of my family history, pressure from the church or God speaking to me, I am not sure of the exact source.
So, when two of my friends invited me to go to church, I took them up on the opportunity. The following is my thoughts on the experience, as well as the Catholic Church as a whole.
My friends and I went to a Roman Catholic church in Boulder, Colorado. I have never been to this particular church, but the building wasn’t much different than any other church I have been to. There were several rows of long wooden pews, a large crucifix and stained-glass windows with saints on them. It even smelled like every other Catholic church: wood and old people.
The first 20 or so minutes of mass were pretty standard and uneventful. A lady with long gray hair and 1970s style glasses did a few readings. A younger woman with an operatic voice sang songs praising the Lord while raising her arm every now and then, giving us our cue to join in.
Then the priest came up to the podium to speak for the first time this evening.
He was wearing green robes and used a walker. He began with a story that Jesus told one of his followers: There was a man injured and ill on the side of the road. Two men walked by the injured man (one of them being a priest) and did nothing. But the third person who walked by the man stopped and helped him. He brought the injured man to an inn and nursed him overnight. Jesus told his follower to live like the third man that walked by and to help those in need.
After he finished, I thought to myself that it was an interesting story. It was simple, but a good lesson to live life by.
Next up was the homily. This is where things got a little interesting. And dare I say controversial.
He started the homily by making a comment about his old age as every priest does. He then said how Western civilization used to be heavily influenced by the Catholic Church, and as the years have gone on this has been increasingly less so.
“Kids are being encouraged to go out and try different things. Family values are being destroyed. We’re allowing same-sex marriage, polygamous relationships and counselors are encouraging people to be unfaithful in marriage.” Interspersed throughout this he would stick out his tongue and go “blahhh!”
After saying this, a woman stormed out, yelling back at the priest. Frankly, I wanted to leave too. But I stayed because I wanted to hear what else he had to say. Also, my friend had the car keys.
I wanted to leave because this to me represents what is wrong with the Catholic Church. Before I go on, I want to clarify I don’t hate the Catholic Church. I think they do a lot of good when it comes to charity work, they can inspire others to be better people and they give something for people to believe in. I also understand that not all Christian or Catholic churches believe that homosexuality is a terrible thing.
It is just disappointing that this is still being said.
Instead of preaching about helping others, treating people with kindness or addressing any of the actual problems with the world, he is condemning a group of people because they are different. Which is literally the exact opposite of what Jesus did and taught: that we should treat others the way we would want to be treated.
I refuse to believe Jesus would be in support of the discrimination and mistreatment the LGBTQ community has faced. And I refuse to worship a God who would tell us to do so.
But I don’t think that would be a problem for two reasons. One, there is an argument that the Bible never actually says anything against homosexuality. If you don’t believe me, check out this booklet that does a deep analysis of the Bible and homosexuality.
Two, the Bible is manmade. God didn’t write it. People did.
So, God never condemned homosexuality. People did.
Okay, sure, “God spoke through people,” but that hasn’t stopped humans from choosing what we want to follow and changing the rules. Just Google “when can’t Christians eat meat,” and you’ll find hundreds of articles explaining the rules and loopholes of eating meat during lent and how much it has changed.
And a great personal example of humans making the rules happened to my grandparents.
My grandfather was forced to leave the Catholic Church after 20 years as a Catholic priest. Why? Because he fell in love.
In 1967 my grandfather met my grandmother. They spent time together and decided they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together. There was only one problem. Catholic priests were not allowed to get married.
At the time though, the pope was St. Paul VI. He was considered a progressive pope, and rumor had it he was going to allow priests to marry. So, they waited.
But it never happened.
Eventually, my grandfather had to make a choice, between the thing he had dedicated his entire life to, or the love of his life.
He chose love.
But not only did he have to leave the priesthood, he was also banned from the Catholic Church entirely. Because of people.
People said he couldn’t get married. He waited on people to allow him to get married. And people made the most kind and good-hearted man I ever met leave the thing he dedicated years of his life to. All because he fell in love.
People. Not God.
Now, I am not saying God does or does not exist. What I am saying is that a lot of Christianity is manmade, which is true for all religions.
So, it is disappointing to me that people in the Catholic Church haven’t decided to accept the LGBTQ community, just because someone wrote it in a book hundreds of years ago. And that is why I was disappointed at what I heard the priest say, even though it goes against everything the Church is supposed to believe in.
And the funny thing is, the priest ended his homily with this message: To fix the world, you need love. You need to love everyone. Even the enemy.
It’s a shame though. He isn’t even listening to his own advice.