Sunday, July 07, 2019

Why I'm still a Catholic

OK, so I'm blogging every day this month. So far I've ticked off a couple of common themes. That was easy. Rose Hill station, a tap in. A musical eulogy, round the keeper and into an empty net. Family life, a hard working team effort.

And yet there's something I do every week that I rarely talk about. Church. Faith. To be more precise, the Catholic Church, which I properly joined in 2007 and has been a part of me for a good chunk of my life. In the theme cloud along the side of this blog you'll see that I blog about Catholic stuff as much as I do about London, radio and food. And nothing like as much as I do about Blackburn Rovers, Manchester and the Labour party.

Part of it is a lack of confidence in what I believe, how I don't really live up to what it should be to be a practising Catholic, or have a thorough understanding of how to live an authentic Christian life, albeit an imperfect one. Though I do get that is the absolute cornerstone of our faith. It isn't about being perfect, it's not a zero sum game, it's who we are as flawed unique humans. And that a spirit in us all, an inner voice that says that you matter, you have value, you are loved. That's what made us. That's God.

I've even deflected personal responsibility for this piece of content, by making it subsidiary to something far slicker, a video from Alpha (top), a course I went on and took part in a couple of years ago. Alpha really changed how I thought about the whole religious experience, about what the essential message of Jesus Christ was and how it is as relevant today as it's always been. An idea that for all the horrors of the world, the response of kindness, humility, forgiveness and a readiness to confront injustice, we can create this on earth - God's kingdom as He intended - and it is an idea that Jesus died for. For us.

And also how it's above all else a social enterprise, a shared and collective experience of people gathered together in the name of Jesus. I actively, enthusiastically love that. There is something special about a parish. The gathering together of people of all shapes, sizes, ages, backgrounds and with all their burdens. Many of us might work in diverse workplaces, follow our sports teams with a mixed crowd, but where else do you get to look someone in the eye, having shared a ritual of such profundity, such power, such mystery, then say 'peace be with you'?  And that the same thing is happening all over the world in our universal church at roughly the same time, give or take. Or as Frank Cottrell Boyce put it - "each parish has the potential to be a neighbourhood utopia." That, for me, is a little bit of the Holy Spirit.

I'm sorry this is a bit crap. It's neither profound, nor answers the question I set.

Let me try and answer it another way. What if I wasn't still a Catholic? And what if I'm wrong?

Seriously, what will any of us have lost by taking these beautiful words of inspiration every week and to try and live our lives accordingly? What's the worst that can happen? I get to dodge the terrible car parking skills of my fellow church goers, I no longer have to endure the occasional dirge of a hymn I don't know, and drift off through a homily I can't follow because I'm not clever enough? It's imperfect, it's church, but I know I'd be far far poorer and less fulfilled if I didn't have it. That's why I'm still a Catholic.

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