When I finished reading this week's chapter of A Well-Built Faith, an old song from the days of folk Masses started running through my head: "They'll Know We Are Christians (By Our Love)." And it got me thinking: how will people know I'm Catholic? Is it obvious, or is it a mystery?
The church has its signs and sacraments. Are there things about me that make my beliefs evident to those around me?
Am I a good representative of my faith?
I have long struggled with personal faith vs. public faith. I don't want to hide who I am or what I believe, but I also don't want to come across as holier-than-thou. I've been around believers who shove their faith down the throats of anyone within earshot, and the picture they present isn't pretty. If someone asks me about my faith or my church, I'm more than happy to share. But my faith is just that -- mine -- regardless of how much I have in common with those who share it, my faith will never be identical to someone else's. In that sense, it's like the mystery that Paprocki describes on page 58: "something that is revealed and yet remains hidden."
On a day-to-day basis, the signs and trappings of my faith do not surround me in obvious ways. They are revealed by the cross and/or the WWJD ring I often wear, but aside from that, I don't think I "look" Catholic. The depths and nuances of my beliefs -- my private faith -- remain hidden despite the small revelations present to those who are looking for them.
But whether or not I "act" Catholic is something else entirely. This is the part of my faith that must not remain hidden. What I hope is that Christ's love shines through me and through my actions, whether I'm discussing my religious beliefs or my beliefs on any other topic. Some days, I know I'm a poor example -- my human frailties show through in expressions of anger and even bitterness -- but I hope those days are the exception, not the rule.
Today is one of those days. Frustration and worry have won out and my good intentions have been buried under sarcasm and harsh tones. The truth is, I feel somewhat hypocritical writing about exhibitions of faithfulness today.
But because of the mysteries of my chosen faith -- the ones that defy human understanding -- I know that God hasn't given up on me. I also know that today won't be the last day that I stumble, though that is hard for me to accept.
And although I don't understand it completely, I know that God loves me anyway, even when I am an imperfect parent, wife, friend...or Catholic.
Word Count Wednesday: 3048 + 1 1/2 hours of revisions