These thoughts overflowed onto the page after a year of watching people argue over differences of taste and preferences that really shouldn't divide us. It is the result of both my own experiences over the past year and it is the result of hearing people make fun of someone who prefers a different form of the Mass. It was inspired, in part, after witnessing someone claim that one Mass has "greater graces" than the other.
It's a fragmented, rambling sort of post, with a good share of navel gazing mixed in (with a share of my struggles with my feelings for the current Pope), but I'm posting it just in case there's one other person who's reading who has struggled with these same emotions... and maybe in case it also reaches one person who's felt the need to tell someone else they're wrong about something that is simply a matter of personal preference.
And what a learning year it has been.
Actually I feel like the past two and a half years have been one big lesson that is slowly being hammered into my brain.
Because even if I really, really love the Tridentine form of the Mass I just can't consider giving my kids Benadryl and an inhaler every Sunday as an actual option for more than two seconds.
Then there was the election of the new Pope. Sometimes, in my little self centered brain that this year is diligently attempting to smash to bits, I read something that our Pope has said and I feel like he's saying that much of what I find lovely and beautiful about our faith is just stupidly shallow and I instantly feel like I must be shallowly stupid to feel like those particular aspects of our faith are so very important to me. I mean, it was logic that drew me towards the Catholic Church when I first began to study the Church's teachings, it was the Eucharist and Apostolic Succession and the sacraments that carried me home, but as I continued on my journey I was also aided by the simple beauty that the sacraments so often involve.
What is harder for me to admit is that sometimes I just feel angry. Someone posts something about how THIS pope makes them feel super awesome and a) first I feel angry because of the comparison that the word THIS is making makes me feel instantly defensive of Pope Benedict XVI and b) I then feel horribly jealous because I miss that warm fuzzy feeling I got when we had a Pope whose every word made perfect sense to me, even when the media twisted them.
Now I'm just confused and a little sad about half of what I read (and I don't go out looking for it! 100% of the time it's super excited, isn't it awesome he said!" status updates) and that particular set of emotions is only added to by the fact that 90% of my Facebook friends are super, super excited about every single thing the Pope says, which lets me know that the problem is me (for the record, I do think he is both good and sincere... I'm not jumping on any conspiracy trains here...).
A long time ago a priest told me that I should try harder to not be so right all the time, and maybe that fits in here too (although after re-reading this I feel like I should add in that I'm not saying that I think I'm right and the Pope is wrong, to be clear. It's more part of the process of my rambling, wandering thoughts at the moment! Bear with me.). In the past I've ranted about liturgical abuses that made my blood pressure shoot up. I'd go online and read about rubrics and how things should be done and I'd be even more certain that I was right and that someone else was wrong.
These days I'm just thankful when I make it through an entire Mass and no one gets sick or collapses on the ground screaming. I appreciate the fact that the priests at our parish say Mass beautifully, but when we've been elsewhere I don't find the things that used to drive me crazy are even on my radar. Maybe I'm trying to give myself credit for some sort of spiritual growth, when all that's really happened is I'm too harried to look beyond what the tumbling toddler at my feet is doing, but I know that the result is certainly less stressful.
Sometimes I like to think that I'm growing, that God has dragged me along through these past few years and that I surely must have learned something, that maybe I've taken some little baby steps as a result of his ample graces. I imagine that through losing Christian and all the months when I was sick and then the drama of What-is-making-Patrick-sick and Mae's diagnosis, the bigger things have come into focus and the smaller things have been put in perspective.
And then I see someone posting about how one Mass is better than the other and how people who go to the other Mass aren't receiving as much grace and my head spins a little. I want to comment, but I'm not even sure I could put into words what the last two years have taught me.
Or maybe the words are so simple that no one would listen: We have Christ in the Eucharist. Do you realize what a blessing that is? How wonderful is gift of his actual body is? Doesn't the eclipse everything else, put every other aspect of life, every other moment into perspective, casting it as teeny tiny in comparison? Can anything I do add to that grace, to the overwhelmingly beautiful wonder of it all?
Perhaps that's the number one lesson I need to focus on. It's not that the things that I've mentioned above aren't important. The liturgy, in all it's beauty, is important. But my thoughts or rants on it aren't going to help anyone, and really do more harm than good.
I can take care of my family. I can pray. And I can remember that love is a choice that we make, not a feeling of affection or warm fuzzies that we get when someone says something that makes us feel like we're right and other people are wrong.
And who knows where I'll be a year from now as I look back over 2014. A lot can change in a year.