If there’s anything I learned from my last night at Cafe Catholica, it was that appearances can be deceiving and truth is something that doesn’t come in an easily appealing package. Nevertheless, we must always reach out to the truth because we find the beauty and goodness hidden within it.
The first reading from last night is a classic case of idolatry in the face of fear. The Gospel doesn’t seem like it relates to the first reading because it was just about parables. The priest who celebrated Mass last night said in his homily that from the outside, the Kingdom of God looks boring because it can’t be contained. It liberates us from earthly attachments. When the Isrealites were faced with the quiet mountain instead of the show of light and fire from Mount Sinai, they forgot everything that God did for them and turned to an idol instead. It should be noted btw, that I wasn’t exactly laughing when the priest re-told the scene from the reading where Aaron said “We just put the gold in the fire and the calf came out of it.” I get that it’s supposed to be a joke, but I don’t find it funny. A lot of others in the church did, though.
The priest said that we are no better than the Israelites. We forget the way the Lord has transformed us and the works of God that we see in our everyday lives. Instead we seek emotional highs. Wasn’t there a Blimey Cow video or two about that?
And they also did an awesome video about idolatry as well.
I think my favorite part of the homily, though, was when the priest said how he wished the Kingdom of God was more like the battle of Mordor. I genuinely laughed at that part because if you want an epic battle, wait for the apocalypse. The truth is, he said, that the Kingdom of God is less interesting than an epic battle. It comes disguised in the ordinary. Here’s how I would compare it.
We wish that the Kingdom of God was like that excited, energetic kind of happiness we feel during our birthday or the holidays or when it’s easy to celebrate. In real life, the Kingdom of God is more like a warm glow, a soft candle light burning in the night. The Kingdom of God isn’t so much like a huge bombastic rock concert as it is more like a choir singing in harmony sometimes and having a random jam session the rest of the time. It’s a hidden treasure and it’s worth finding.
The lecture last night was a lesson in apologetics. The guest speaker, Dr. Christopher Kaczor, talked about the 7 Big Myths About the Catholic Church. He focused on myths believed by secular society and the common theme about all of them is that the world perceives the Catholic Church as an embodiment of hate: It hates science, women, happiness, gays, gay marriage, children (because of the sex abuse scandals) and love (because of its opposition to contraception).
The truth, of course, is that the Catholic Church is a church of authentic love. The Church embraces a relationship between faith and reason. Many of the biggest names in scientific history are Catholic. I also learned that many cathedrals in Europe also functioned as solar observatories. The Church loves women. (Hello, Mary Queen of Heaven and Earth!?) The Church takes care of the world by serving people in need, therefore making billions of people worldwide happy here on Earth. We also teach about forgiveness, the dangers of greed, and gratitude. We celebrate a thanksgiving with every Eucharist.
We love everyone without exception, but that love doesn’t come in the form of just being nice all the time. I can’t speak for all Catholics, but know that when it comes to the LGBT community, most Catholics are trying to understand it. We are not being bigots when we say that we oppose gay marriage. We just want people to understand that there is a more authentic love out there. No the Church is not always nice. But as they say in Into the Woods “Nice is different than good.”
If there’s one myth/cliche that I hate seeing in TV is the pedophilic/evil priest because while there are issues with that going on in the Church, the world wants to make everyone think that all priests are perverts with issues. That is so so far from the truth. There is no relation between abuse and celibacy. There are also other kinds of people who do the exact same thing but don’t get the same attention. I always believe in speaking well of others and like to see the good in people. I wish more people could do the same and be forgiving about this. You can’t dismiss an entire religion for the actions of a few.
The truth is that the Church loves children and the family. Children are a source of joy and help us to be more grateful. They help us to grow in humility and teach us the value of life and give it meaning again.
The best thing I got out of Cafe Catholica overall were all the new experiences. I sang in a choir. I made new friends. I had a major boost in my social life in the form of hanging out with my new friends. I learned new songs. I learned to be brave and take risks. I learned to find happiness in setbacks. I learned to not be afraid. I learned to move on from my past. I learned to value myself. I didn’t learn these things from any one homily or something a guest lecturer said, but from all of these experiences. I learned these new things by doing them.
If there’s one thing I want to say to anyone who wants to be more involved with their diocese, I highly recommend volunteering for events like this. Take a chance and try something new, like singing in the choir or being a lector at your parish. Be a Catechist or part of youth ministry. You never know where these wonderful new things will take you.