I am a cafeteria Catholic. Yes, I “pick and choose” what I am willing to believe, put on the back burner what I do not yet understand, and reject what I cannot accept.
For some, being a cafeteria Catholic is synonymous with being a bad Catholic or no Catholic. These folks demand an “all or nothing” acceptance of the doctrines and traditions of the church. “All or nothing” Catholicism is often willing to sacrifice numbers for a smaller, leaner, purer church.
I do not believe in all or nothing Catholicism. This does not mean that I am against conservative, traditionalist forms of Catholic belief and practice. I am against an “all or nothing” attitude that demands unquestioning obedience to each and every teaching and tradition of the church, regardless of its place on the hierarchy of truths, and quickly denounces the doubter or the questioner.
Questions should not be feared, by either the questioner or church leaders.
Questioning your faith means your faith is important to you.
Questioning your faith requires hard work, an intimate wrestling with sometimes deeply grounded beliefs. It calls you to challenge the voices of authority, past and present, that you were taught to never challenge.
Questioning your faith is an act of courage, for you do not know where it will lead you.
Over the years, I have often been disappointed, disillusioned and disgusted with my church. I watched as cradle Catholics headed for the doors never to return. I straddled the doorway myself many times, one foot in and one foot ready to bolt.
When faith in God is tied up so closely to faith in the church, doubt in one is bound to flow into the other. Questioning of the church and her dysfunctional leadership led to a dark night of the soul for me. As I questioned the role of the church in my life, I questioned other beliefs.
And, yet, I’m still here. Why? Yes, there were beliefs that I let go, but there were other beliefs that were strengthened by the questioning.
At this stage in life, as a Mama of five and Grammy of six, I need to answer the question for myself.
What do I believe in?
What do I want pass on to my children and grand-children?
What do I have to offer the church and the world from my own faith lens?
I hope that you will ponder with me, and explore your own beliefs without fear of judgment from yourself or others.