When I was a child, my parents and my uncle taught me to do just about everything on my own. If I wanted McDonalds, they gave me an assortment of bills and coins, then sent me off to the register. I had to count out the correct amount of change to hand the cashier, and when I made a mistake, I was told to pay better attention.
If I wanted to buy a toy, I was told to figure out how much the cost of the toy would be with taxes, then to save my money. I was taught to clean, make a few simple meals that I liked, etc. And soon, as I continued to learn and grow, came:
“I do what I want.”
This was a popular, joking, maybe not so joking, phrase for me growing up. And it was pretty descriptive of me, I did what I wanted, despite what I could have been told. As a child, I was taught to be independent, to take care of myself – maybe to the extent where I thought I knew better than everyone else. I thought that because I was taught to fend for myself, I could also disregard any authority.
This fully manifested itself when it came to my mother. My mother was no tyrant; She was stable, she always desired my good, and the good of our entire family; She introduced me to Jesus, and my Catholic faith. And despite the fact that I thought that I could do whatever I wanted, I also naturally wanted my mother’s care as her child. But I continued along my own way, because I knew I would always receive it, although I did not submit to her authority. I wanted it all, without any duty. My mother became a provider, my “gata” as she called it. Basically, the woman who I placed on the sidelines – but always introduced and referred to as my mother.
Universally, what I did as a child and adolescent – sometimes even today – while having a mother who not only birthed me, but cared for me and desired my well-being, was not good.
It is not good to disregard your mother.
And yet, why is this any different with our Mother Church?
This same situation is so often mirrored among Catholics with our God, and the precepts set by His Bride, a Church which has steadily searched to lead us towards the Kingdom of Heaven for two thousand years.
While filled with flawed human beings, ups and downs, the core teachings of our Church remain unchanged due to their nature, and their orientation towards Heaven, the Father, and His will. But we as children, continue to distance ourselves from the ways in which She guides us and searches for the good of all Her children.
We demand Her care, we demand the title of child, but we refuse to give Her the role of mother. We do what we want. We so fiercely fight to be identified as Catholics, but do we so fiercely fight to BE Catholics?
We live in a world where we value subscriptions with caveats, and rebellion is commended. We are praised by the world if we are a part of an institution, but completely separate our own ideas from it. We seek to glorify and distinguish ourselves among that sameness in a Church that is founded and rooted in tradition. If we are distinguished, we are open, we are accepting, we are unoffensive, we are “cool”. We are Catholic “but”. BUT when we work so hard to be that “cool” the world commends, we are truly setting ourselves apart from our Church, and from the Lord who created it.
I used to take pride in being the one of “the good ones”. But then, I realized that as Catholics, we are not merely a part of an institution. We are children, we are a Church, and She is our Mother, He is the Bridegroom. We are not apart, and we may not be apart. Nothing that we do will change our belonging to our Mother Church and our God through the sacrament of our baptism, but it does reflect how well we act as children, as well as how we allow for this faith to enter our hearts and our minds.
My struggle with my mother growing up sometimes became my struggle with my Church. And as I sought to understand where Her interests always lie, I have sought to always follow and understand Her, knowing that I do not possess the eternal perspective that She does. I began to combat empty titles – I fought to obey Her and I will also fight to be Her child in every sense of the word.
“Write these words on a sheet of paper: ‘From today on, my own will does not exist,’ and then cross out the page. And on the other side, write these words: ‘From today on, I do the will of God everywhere, always, and in everything.”
– Saint Faustina Kowalska, Divine Mercy In my Soul, 372.
Saint Faustina said it best. Today, I promise to strive to live up to the sonship of both my mothers…and to unite my will to theirs, as we seek the good of the whole, and the building of a Kingdom greater than what my eyes can see, or mind can imagine.
I do what You want. I know you desire my good, and the good of the entire Church.