As Catholics we sometimes get tempted to seal ourselves up in our own bubbles and echo chambers. In hanging out with only Catholics, in only talking about Catholic things, listening to only Catholic music or reading only Catholic books because it’s frustrating and scary to see a world in pain through a Catholic lens. We see train wrecks everywhere and we know Who the answer is and we just want to scream at everyone and tell them to get in the damn house where they will be safe.(The house being the Church) It begins with the best of intentions to help those who are wounded. But so many times it leads to the prideful ideas that we have the answer, that everyone has to listen to us and/or that if they don’t then we need to cut them out of our lives.
There are plenty of times when cutting a certain someone or a few certain people from our life is completely understandable. Some people are toxic and are not meant to be in our life for many reasons. There is also a pride in thinking that we are called to help everyone, because we aren’t. God has it covered. He knows who can help who and He doesn’t need any one of us to save the world on our own, because He kind of already did that through Jesus, His only begotten Son.
So while it’s sometimes healthy to set boundaries with some people in our lives, and let’s be honest every single life has those people in it, it isn’t Christ-like to set up walls with people based on a list of do’s and don’ts. “Aren’t Catholic? Welp, can’t be your friend.” And things like that. I had a list. I would get frustrated talking to anyone who didn’t believe as I believe after my conversion. I couldn’t handle being in any group of people without talking about my faith constantly. It is good to witness about what God has done for us in our life, but not every single dinner party has to be turned into a Billy Graham special.
At this point in my conversion I am starting to get calls that some of those people who I turned my back on, thinking that I was somehow defending my faith, are dying. Not just dying but some have killed themselves. As a Catholic Christian I do not take that lightly. For me it is a failure on my part because I wonder how many of these people are now standing with the knowledge that one Catholic they knew was nothing like the Jesus they have now met? Regardless of where they will spend eternity, which is none of my business, it is still not ok that they now know my Lord and know that I failed to be a true witness of Who He is. Based on my knowledge of how Jesus has dealt with me in my life, I hate to think that anyone has had a conversation with Christ and told Him how I hurt them by turning my back on them.
In my attempt at becoming a “good” Catholic, I have left a lot of people behind who were not only my friends but at times my family. People who I ate with, drank with, danced with and laughed with. People who helped me when I was down and out and people who pissed me off like crazy while also saying hurtful things about me, which is no different from a lot of people in Catholic circles these days, because human is human. Those things happen in every family. The human condition is full of times where we aren’t able to be good to people because we fail at loving others all the time, it is the part of living in a fallen world. I really thought that it would be different in the Catholic Church. It should be since everyone here gets that we follow a Savior who died on a Cross to show us what sin does. Sin put Him there. But the fact is, there is plenty of gossip, envy, jealousy and anger that plague this beautiful Church of mine. I’ve seen a lot of it and have been both on the receiving and giving end of it. Why then do we sometimes think that we need to stay away from certain groups of other people? Like atheists or gay people (living IN open relationships), or any other “worldly” group? The “them”, whoever “they” are on any given day.
I have no idea, but I know one thing, I have turned my back on my old life and nothing will ever make me go back to it, but the people who I love are a different story. I will not cut people out of my life for simply believing differently than I do. I will not close myself off from people who have plenty to add to my life and I to theirs based on some purist idea of what a Catholic life should look like. Jesus didn’t live like that and neither will I. I will not stop being myself and loving the people who I love in some attempt to look like someone who I am not. I will also not use every opportunity to preach from a pulpit to others. People just want to be loved, to be in relationship and to know that if they need something they can count on you to be there. That is the best way to be Christ to them and if they ask questions on something or want to discuss some part of the Faith, then the friendship is the foundation to build that discussion on. But as Christians, we are never called to impose ourselves or our Faith on anyone else.
I pray for all of my friends who are now dead. May they rest in peace and I pray that God has mercy on their souls and let me stand in their place to make reparation for their sins along with my own.