Admitting to be Catholic

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Many Australians form their impression of Catholics from movies and the media. The problem with this is they rarely get a very truthful picture.

Sometimes admitting your Catholic at university or in the workplace can feel like stepping into the Roman arena – you are just waiting for the lions to appear.
Movies are hilarious when they bring on Catholic clerical stereotypes. A Catholic means cue the shadows, smoke and evil sounding music. You expect Darth Vader to appear – instead it’s the Pope.

Getting out of Australia can really help Catholics regain their sense of pride. Go to the Philippines and you will see the Churches packed many times a day. Go to Rome and you will see thousands of other Catholics, the beauty of the Churches and the history behind your faith. You suddenly realise that you are part of a religion far larger than any small minded view portrayed on the ABC news or in the Sydney Morning Herald.

What are some things you should be proud if you are Catholic? This list is not definitive but it’s a good start.

J.R.R Tolkein and other good company
So many great writers are Catholic: J.R.R Tolkein, Dorothy L Sayers, Grahame Greene, Evelyn Waugh, G.K Chesterton, to name a few. Even Oscar Wilde became a Catholic on his death bed.

Acts of Kindness

The Catholic Church runs invaluable charities all over the word and has done so for centuries. The Church has founded schools, universities, orphanages, and hospitals. The Catholic Church serves the poor  and has been a driving force for eduation that has shaped culture. 

Our priests

I realise some may never have had the opportunity to come into contact with a Catholic priest.
So many priests that I have met are like the present Pope. The more I hear about Pope Francis, the more he feels entirely familiar to me. The priests I’ve met are humble, have a good sense of humour, are kind and full of wisdom.

The Big Brains
Catholics have an amazing tradition of intellectuals. Richard Dawkins attempts to debunk a few of them in his little book The God Delusion. When you start reading  the Catholic intellectuals you realise how far they tower above him in depth and precision of thought. Their wisdom is astounding. To name a few there is  Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Thomas Moore, Edith Stein, John Paul II, Teresa of Avila and Catherine of Siena. These are only a few that I’ve dipped into. It would take a life time to discover them all. Personally I find their wisdom comforting, inspiring and an encouragment admist a world that can be so shallow.

Our inside information
When Pope Francis was elected the speculation began on what sort of agenda he would be running. Most Catholics however knew they had an inside scoop. This Pope was Catholic – he would quite simply teach the Catholic faith.

If any journalist has a question on the Catholic religion can I refer them to the Catechism of the Catholic Church – it’s quite a detailed document. If they are short of time, there is even an abridged version. Basically it answers any questions in beautiful detail. From the ten commandants to every Sacrament, it covers it all.

A universal religion

I was baptised by an Irish priest, married by a Spanish  priest and my baby was baptised by a Vietnamese.  From Cambodia to Vanuatu, when I’ve gone on holiday, I’ve always found a Catholic Church.

It’s a challenge

Being a Catholic isn’t for the faint hearted. We are called to love everyone just as much as Jesus loved them. And he gave his life for everyone. That means we can’t just love our best friend who buys us coffee and tells us we are looking fantastic. We can’t just love the members of our family who we get along with.

We have to be kind to the person at work with bad breath who talks too much. We have to be welcoming and hospitable to all our relatives, even if they only talk about tennis and its bores us to death. This sort of love is revolutionary!

It’s timeless
A good reason I’m proud to be Catholic, is it just isn’t fashionable at the moment. Being Catholic will rarely win you anyone’s instant admiration. You might find yourself elbowed out of the cool crowd.
In the 16th Century it was fashionable for women to paint their faces white with lead.  In the 17th and 18th Century you wouldn’t have been seen dead without a large, lice infested wig. In the 19th century women strapped themselves in corsets so tight they could barely breathe and were still giving their babies away to a wet nurse for the first year of their life.
History tells me, that as a woman it’s not always wise to follow fashion.
So that’s why, looking left and right for lions to pounce, I’m still proud to be a Catholic.

Friday Poetry – Good Friday, 1613. Riding Westward

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I wish I read more poetry – this is one I remember from school. Naturally enough I often think of it today. John Donne lived from 1572 – 1631. He seemed to write mainly about sex and religion.

Good Friday, 1613. Riding Westward

BY JOHN DONNE

Let mans Soule be a Spheare, and then, in this,

The intelligence that moves, devotion is,

And as the other Spheares, by being growne

Subject to forraigne motion, lose their owne,

And being by others hurried every day,

Scarce in a yeare their naturall forme obey:

Pleasure or businesse, so, our Soules admit

For their first mover, and are whirld by it.

Hence is’t, that I am carryed towards the West

This day, when my Soules forme bends toward the East.

There I should see a Sunne, by rising set,

And by that setting endlesse day beget;

But that Christ on this Crosse, did rise and fall,

Sinne had eternally benighted all.

Yet dare I’almost be glad, I do not see

That spectacle of too much weight for mee.

Who sees Gods face, that is selfe life, must dye;

What a death were it then to see God dye?

It made his owne Lieutenant Nature shrinke,

It made his footstoole crack, and the Sunne winke.

Could I behold those hands which span the Poles,

And tune all spheares at once peirc’d with those holes?

Could I behold that endlesse height which is

Zenith to us, and our Antipodes,

Humbled below us? or that blood which is

The seat of all our Soules, if not of his,

Made durt of dust, or that flesh which was worne

By God, for his apparell, rag’d, and torne?

If on these things I durst not looke, durst I

Upon his miserable mother cast mine eye,

Who was Gods partner here, and furnish’d thus

Halfe of that Sacrifice, which ransom’d us?

Though these things, as I ride, be from mine eye,

They’are present yet unto my memory,

For that looks towards them; and thou look’st towards mee,

O Saviour, as thou hang’st upon the tree;

I turne my backe to thee, but to receive

Corrections, till thy mercies bid thee leave.

O thinke mee worth thine anger, punish mee,

Burne off my rusts, and my deformity,

Restore thine Image, so much, by thy grace,

That thou may’st know mee, and I’ll turne my face.