Thursday, October 27, 2011

On Growing Up Catholic

Yesterday I read this really excellent article from Leila, a Catholic blogger and mom of 8. It's really long but I forced myself to read the whole thing, and I'm so glad I did, because it was so worth it.

It made me think about the way I was raised. The entire generation of post-Vatican II Catholics - my parents' generation - were raised with very watered-down, liberal catechesis. As one of my favorite professors is fond of saying, they were poorly catechized. For example, my mom went to CCD her whole life, but she didn't even know about the Real Presence until she was in graduate school. Doesn't that just break your heart? That's the way it was for a whole generation of American Catholics, millions and millions of souls starved of the truth. And just think of their children - totally deprived and ignorant, through no fault of their own.

Ignorance of the Faith is being passed on to my generation too. But for me and my high school friends, not so much. We were taught Church doctrine, on philosophy as well as on matters of faith. I remember one time that a college professor asked the class, "Who can tell me what freedom is?" "Choosing to do what's right," I shot back, and he gave me a funny look. An elderly fallen away Catholic himself, he was old enough to have been raised in the pre-Vatican II faith, and he knew his catechism as well as I did - well enough to be amazed that I was practically quoting it.

"Wow, someone drilled that into your head, didn't they?" he asked quietly. At the time I thought his response was a little rude, implying as it did that my ideas were not my own, but since then I've come to see it as a compliment. Unlike pretty much every other student he had taught in recent years, I was well-catechized. I'm part of a fortunate and shrinking minority that actually knows what the Church teaches. And I'm part of an even smaller minority that loves it.

So I'm lucky, very very lucky. I emphasize lucky and fortunate because my moral and religious formation is something I was given as a generous gift, and that came to me through absolutely no virtue of my own. For those of us who were well-catechized, it's good to remember the parable of the Pharisee and the tax-collector. We too are sinners, often the worst sinners in fact, since pride is the greatest sin. What an easy trap it is to fall into too. So we have try to stay always on our guard against it, although of course we fail at that often enough, being human. Thank God for His grace and for the sacrament of Confession, amiright? So that's one thing to watch out for.

It's also good to remember what my friend Catherine pointed out once. "God only sends people as many trials as they can handle," she said. "I was raised in a loving Catholic family and have never been seriously tempted to stray from the Faith." She paused and said, half-joking and half-serious, "God must not have thought I could handle very much!" Exactly. We have it comparatively easy. Maybe us cradle Catholics should remember that from time to time.

Finally, I always try to keep in mind that Christ gave us fair warning: "From those to whom much has been given, much will be asked in return" (Luke 12:48). I'm one of the fortunate few who was taught the full truth of the Faith from an early age. With that power comes a great responsibility. God is asking a lot from me. He's asking everything. What exactly is He asking? I'm not sure yet. I'm still waiting for my marching orders. All I know now is to be ready when He calls.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! This is true -- we are really lucky!! I love that part where you quoted Luck. "From those to whom much has been given, much will be asked in return." It means we won't get off easy, just because we are blessed! Everyone has their own hard times and trials. But, now I do feel so fortunate that my parents taught me as much as they did, even though they are from the post-Vatican II generation.