In light of Chris' very poignant and sincere question, I've decided to hold off on continuing with the posts on the Rosary, at least for a little while, in the hope that some good fruit will result from the discussion.
So, while I've sat and thought and attempted to respond to Chris' question below, trying to craft a logical, air-tight, erudite, and unassailable answer, my beautiful wife reflected on her recent trials, and her own personal life of faith, and wrote a beautiful and wise answer. Out of honour for my wife, I told her I would post it as its own article, rather than hiding it away in the Comments of Chris' post. So without further ado...
What It Truly Means To Be A Catholic!
- We gather as a community to share our joys and our sorrows.
- We recognise sorrow and suffering for what it is and unite our sufferings with Christ's -- We don't gloss over this suffering but we embrace it as the thing that made Him truly human and something that we can relate to.
- We gather to pray, prayers that may not be spontaneous but those which carry great meaning, those which are familiar and so we can say them even when we are weak and faltering. We stand with our brothers and sisters together and pray, and even though our prayers may not be worthy or well-said, our community is praying with us and for us, and so that makes it worth more.
- We gather and receive the Eucharist and even when we are faltering and unworthy He is still present in it and thereby we receive Him; and so He works inside us and works to change our hearts even when we don't know what to believe anymore. Jesus shows He loves us so much by giving Himself to us again and again even when we aren't always fully able to understand or comprehend it because of our lapses in faith.
- Being Catholic means an acceptance of others before making judgements about who they are. We understand that we have something unique and special but we don't preach on the street corner and tell people they're going to Hell. We'd rather show you--through the beauty of our churches, the sacredness of our masses, the social justice work that we do--the Gospel of Christ.
- It is understanding that while God gave us His Word, He knew that it wouldn't be enough for us to try and muddle through it on our own. It is knowing that we have the ability to read and understand Scripture, but that we also have a body of knowledge, love, and learning in the Tradition that binds us together as a community.
(Category: The Church: The Make-up of the Church)