...comes wonderful posting on "The Church Mediocre." Please make sure you take the time to read the links he gives in there as well!
And it is nice to know that I'm not the only one who has felt so... depressed... sitting in the pew and seeing bored faces, people chewing gum, and singing absolutely hideous music. To go from the grand words of saints throughout the ages to what happens around you at a normal Sunday Mass can be quite a jolt to the system.
...how did I ever convince myself that somehow I'm the judge of all that is holy? Why do I think that I can "size up the crowd" and determine that I'm the only "good Catholic" in the sanctuary?
That's complete garbage.
I have been guilty of a whole lot of things in my life (pride, obviously, being one of the biggies), and I have been honestly mistaken about a whole lot more. And yet somehow, in the midst of all of it, Jesus still managed to love me.
When I was in my rabid anti-Catholic phase, He was there.
Before I gave modesty any consideration whatsoever, He was there.
When I was busy telling my family how wrong I thought they were, He was there.
Not once did I get struck down with lightning.
Instead, He gently led me through all that confusion, and brought me to where I am now. I still have a mighty long way to go. I'm still confused and wrong about many things, I am sure... and I'm also sure that He will continue to teach me for the rest of my life. Where I am wrong, He will let me know when it's the right time.
All this is to say that I simply need to show a lot more grace to those around me. No, my particular parish is not everything I would like it to be (although it does have a lot going for it that I am incredibly grateful for!!!!), but neither am I. I cannot expect perfection from others when I am incapable of living it myself.
I am here because He showed me that the Catholic Church was His Church, period. This is where the Eucharist is, and I can go nowhere else.
The funny thing is -- once I got off my high horse, I realized HOW WRONG I was about so many people in my parish. They are great! There is a passion for the Lord there, and their enthusiasm, generosity, and desire to please Him is amazing. The women at my Bible study, for example, just blow me away. I am thankful for them all!
Maybe one day, God willing, my parish will be a shining example of the finest Catholicism has to offer -- the praise, the chants, the reverence, the artwork, etc etc etc... -- but, until then, I would do well to remember that those around me are just like me: sinners being made holy.