Greetings and welcome to the first post on “The Unconventional Catholic.”
Full disclosure up front: I am a “revert” – that is, a person who was baptized as a Roman Catholic, practiced Catholicism at one time, left the Catholic Church for a time, and then returned to it. We can’t be called “converts” because a convert is a person who has changed his or her religion from one church or organization to another. We are reverts in the sense that we have “reverted” back to something we once were.
My story will be revealed in time. In fact, I might end up writing a whole book on it (though I might have to publish it as fiction, since no one will believe it could possibly be true outside of Soap Opera Land). For now, I think a bit about myself would be in order.
I believe in the doctrine established by the Catholic Church – if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have returned to the Church after about a ten-year absence. In fact, one of the reasons for my return was my observation that the Catholic Church was one of the only vocal opponents of the doctrine of current cultural trends. Whether or not you agree with Catholic teaching, it would be wise to defend its right to speak out publicly – it’s healthy to have multiple voices in the public square. Anything else, or anything less, amounts to a form of cultural fascism.
So if I agree with the teachings of the Catholic Church, what makes me so unconventional?
The popular conception – even among practicing Catholics – is that divorced persons are “excommunicated” – that we have no voice or place in the Church. This is far from the actual case.
I was married outside of the Church because my now-estranged husband had at one point in his life been married and subsequently divorced. We were married by a Unitarian Universalist minister. A few months after our wedding, I was received into the Episcopal Church. I was done with the “Church of No,” as the Catholic Church has recently been called.
In the fall of 2012, though, due to a series of events and a multitude of factors, I decided to return to the Catholic Church as asked my then-husband to pursue an annulment from his first marriage. He agreed and began the annulment process by filing a petition with the local diocese.
I began attending a local parish church, though I followed church doctrine by refraining from receiving Holy Communion. To shorten an extremely long story, I will skip to my separation from my husband, which occurred at the beginning of 2014. Right after we decided to separate – and I mean right after – I left our marriage counselor’s office and headed straight for my pastor’s office. He heard my confession and I attended a noontime Mass in a neighboring town (as my own church has no noon Mass). I’ve attended Mass and received the sacraments ever since, even in the wake of my divorce.
I think it’s fairly unconventional for someone to be married to a divorced person outside the Church, leave the Church, return, subsequently divorce the person she married outside the Church in the first place, then become a lector in her parish, seek employment in a Catholic school, and even join the lay branch of the Dominican order. All of this is exactly what I’ve done, and that makes me an Unconventional Catholic.
There are plenty of blogs out there that reach out to non-Christians. My blog is intended to address people of faith in an effort to help them understand their own scriptures and the doctrines of their own faith tradition. Of course, I will do this from a Catholic point of view, since that is who and what I am. Still, if you’re a curious non-Christian, by all means feel free to read and comment.
No doubt I will end up posting things on here that will seriously cheese some people off, considering that the Catholic worldview has become radically counter-cultural. But it’s not my intention to be antagonistic – I want to develop a dialogue and hopefully get folks thinking in a different way. I’ve found that if people know the reasoning behind certain moral and theological arguments, they can at least develop an understanding even if they continue to disagree. That’s part of my goal here – to lay out the Catholic positions on various issues in a way that clarifies the reasoning behind those positions. I will also engage current events through the lens of my own faith.
With all this in mind, I also welcome suggestions for issues to tackle on this blog. The thornier the better!