Here are the discussion questions:
- Are you comfortable talking with others about your relationship with God?
- Would you say that you’re a “normal” Catholic using the criteria outlined above?
- Or are you a “typical” Catholic, fighting that feeling that interest in the faith is only for a few pious eccentrics?
Matt and Phil were good friends who played golf together every Saturday during the summer months. They had this arrangement for four straight years, canceling only in cases of stormy weather. One Saturday, as they were completing their round, Matt said, “Phil, I won’t be able to play next week.” Phil blinked a few times before replying. “Seriously? You’ve never canceled golf. What’s going on? Everything okay?” Matt nodded, saying: “Everything’s cool. It’s just that next Saturday is my 15th wedding anniversary.” Phil stumbled a couple shaky steps backwards. “You’re…you’re married?!?”
This week’s chapter and reflection reminded me of that joke, and got me thinking – how many of my friends know I’m Catholic, in a true, deep, real, down-to-the-core, sense? That my most important relationship is with God?
Honestly, I’m afraid to find out.
My parents raised me to not be embarrassed about being Catholic – such as saying grace in public, or crossing ourselves while passing a Church – but talking about our relationship with God? Pure uncharted territory. In recent years, I’ve gotten better at doing that, but I recognize that I have a long, long, long way to go. Because when you get right down to it, it’s talking about shortcomings. In the relationship between me and God, any problems with said relationship sure as heck aren’t on God’s end. God’s not the one who says “you know, this thing isn’t working out – but it’s not you, it’s me”. God’s always there, wanting to draw me in closer, and I’m resisting because…well, because I’m an idiot. Who knows why I resist? I’m a guy – guys who analyze their feelings over stuff like this are called “girls”.
Okay, not really. But the basic reality is this: a lot of guys are reluctant to talk about their relationship with God because it exposes a vulnerability they’d rather keep hidden. It shows they’re not in charge. We’re not being asked to fix things, kill spiders or move heavy furniture. God’s asking us to allow Him in and kill the spiders spinning webs of panic in our souls; to move the heavy weights of guilt and shame from our heart; to fix our failures with his unfailing forgiveness. Those are tough things for guys to do, much less admit, and it explains why it’s hard for some of us to open up about our relationship with Him.
I have no problem talking about religion stuff, generally speaking. Dogma, Church teachings, lives of the saints, current events in the Church – I can do that all day long. Heck, I blog about that stuff all day long. And I’ll open up and talk about my faith journey with anybody who asks.
But talking about my relationship with God with others? Getting there – I am getting there. I’m blessed with a close circle of friends where such conversations are easy and they flow and we support each other along the journey. But by and large, I would need a banned-NYC-drink-sized Pentecost moment to just bring it up in the normal course of a discussion with people outside that circle.
And the folks outside the circle? They aren’t merely the lady behind you in the grocery check-out lane, or the guy on the next treadmill in the gym, or the group at the adjacent table in the restaurant. No, the folks outside the circle are the people inside your own home, or inside your neighborhood, or inside your office. God has put people in our lives for a purpose – family, friends, neighbors. Some will point us to the path, and others will help us keep our feet upon it.
The rest? Well, we’re in their lives for a purpose. We’re disciples for them. Our relationship with God is a personal thing, but He’s never intended it to be a private thing. As our lives change by becoming disciples of Christ, then by the grace of the Holy Spirit, their lives are open to the possibility of changing too.
So – time to get over myself, stay joyful, and perhaps hear a few people say “What? You’re…you’re Catholic?!?”