(Sorry for the length, this is something important to me.)
With the recent passing of the pope I have been thinking much of my relations with the Catholic Church. My devotion to the church has been almost virtually nonexistent since the time I left high school. At that point I had heard much of the disappointment of my community in the decisions of our new bishop. This new bishop had stopped a project to start a new Catholic school, which many had been invested in for years. People tried to convince the bishop of continuing the project, but there was no convincing him. So it was officially killed under his authority.
This is one aspect of the Catholic Church that appears to upset people the most, the hierarchical system of government. Being Catholic gives you no influence over the decisions of the church, and American citizens have little experience with having any system that they don't have a say in. This had confused me as a child because the Catholic Church is differentiated from other denominations mostly because of having this hierarchy, but at the same point this is what I saw giving the most frustration to its members. My mother and all my relatives on her side are the Catholics of my family, and all of them are "liberal Catholics". These are the same that argue over the status of women in the church, the abortion issue, and homosexuality. Regardless of their views none of them have ever had any wish of leaving the church, the church is part of their identity and what they grew up with. Most Catholics I know find the church as a source of comfort and have great respect for the rich history and tradition it offers. They still want the church to be more progressive and at the same time still love Catholicism for its stability. I always thought that to be amusing.
I have not been to mass since I went with one of my friends in College Station almost a year ago. No, I haven't even been for Christmas or Easter celebration. I haven't had confession since 1999, the year I graduated high school. At the same time I still refer to myself as Catholic and keep up with what is going on in the church. My faith has remained constant, but the influence of the "liberal" trend in Catholicism and that of my atheist father made me question the credibility of the church. That was all I saw, that the church kept up with outdated beliefs and that many of the community remained out of comfort and not true belief.
One trait I really dislike the most in people is shallowness. I never want to be seen that way. When I go into something, I go into it with passion. If I loose that passion, I question why I do it in the first place. So of coarse this inner conflict has led me through years of searching, both through other religions and for faith in the one that I was raised in.
What did I end up with? In the end nothing can replace my love of the Catholicism. It is part of my identity. I have made this conclusion a while ago, but I haven't felt ready to go back till now. It may seem silly that the death of the pope has given the idea that I'm ready to go back. Reading about him brought me back to my original ideas that I had conflicted with years ago, that there is a need for this ancient system and these old ideas. Well, my old conflicts all seem silly to me now. I can't believe in any other church because they lack the same stability of ideas. I truly love the church's consistency through our fast passed world and I hope it never changes. Am I actually more of a traditionalist? Maybe it has to do with my development through my education....
I realize that this post is really long and I am hungry. I'll finish this later tonight.