AmySometimes, it can be incredibly lonely to be a Catholic.

Since moving to Bay View last year, I have found myself making friends with people who are unique in both their appearances as well as their lifestyles – for example, a flame throwing juggler! While I thoroughly enjoy their company and feel so welcomed, I have come to the realization that none follow the same faith as I. Some grew up as Catholics but no longer practice their faith, while others were never very religious to begin with. Most of them, however, have a strong opinion of what it means to be a Catholic today.

That is rarely a good thing.

There are days where I ask myself why I’m still Catholic. It seems as though I’m constantly defending my faith, defending what I believe in and how I worship. Some days, I find myself making it a point to not tell people my religion, or even where I work (believe me, people have much to say when they find out you work for a Catholic newspaper), because of the insensitive words that inevitably follow.

With all these opinions floating around – and all the times I snuck off to the bathroom to cry because yet another person made me feel like a fool for going to Sunday Mass – I have come to the realization that sometimes, I understand why there are so many non-practicing Catholics in the world. However, through all that, I’m still in the pew on Sunday.

I choose to be Catholic because I love the church and everything she stands for. I love how I can go to Mass and sit and meditate and listen to what God is trying to tell me, without all the outside “static” that makes it so hard to hear. I love how, no matter what church you attend, there is always someone there to give you a smile and welcome you. I love the age-old traditions and prayers that are said.

Being a Catholic in the 21st century is a very hard thing to do, I’ve come to realize. However, after researching for my article “Living your Catholic faith in the 21st century” on page 3, I’ve discovered that there are reasons as to why the Catholic Church has been around for the last 2,000 years. For all the bad that ensued after the priest sexual abuse scandals, there are still eons of good that the Catholic Church accomplishes through her members. Just as we Catholics must never forget those who were abused by priests or hurt by the cover up of many high-ranking Catholic officials, we also must never forget the good that comes forth from the church.

Jesus never said that being his follower would be an easy task – in fact, he made it a point to tell us that it would indeed be very, very hard! However, like all things in life that are worthwhile, the impending rewards – life with him in heaven! – will make those hard times here on earth more than worth it.

So what should you tell people when they make snide comments about Catholics, or going to Mass, or not eating meat on Fridays during Lent? For myself, I follow the advice of St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” 

Believe me, your actions will definitely speak louder than words!