Give me the grace…through temperance to hold fast to the middle way~Prayer to Obtain the Virtues St. Thomas Aquinas
Did you have a Bible Baptist Church bus drive through your neighborhood on Sunday mornings?
I did. And I rode it all the way to the 5th grade.
It was there I learned the “Arky Arky” song, the Romans Road and to try not to stray from that straight and narrow path. I learned I was a sinner and tainted especially by Eve. I learned women should only wear dresses – your holiness could be judged by it. And I learned that if the Bible didn’t say it, it wasn’t true. So beat your friends with the Bible.
My parents took me to a non-denominational church next. Here I learned that women could wear jeans – even to church! I learned that sometimes God answers prayers, but that you should keep your faith reserved. I learned what it look like when a church split up because the pastor had to work an outside job to support his family and the new pastor didn’t teach what the congregants thought the Bible said. So read your Bible and pray the Holy Spirit teaches you the truth.
I could drive at 16. So I drove myself to a Vineyard. They taught me what it looked like to love God with all your heart. What it felt like to give Him your all – not just in an altar call – but in the singing, too. I learned what it was like to desire God. To carry a New Testament in my purse, and smaller Bible in my car. To search for Him with my whole being. And I learned that He had a plan for me, and felt it when others prayed that I would know what that plan was. I learned to cry in the darkness of night – wondering why it was that I was 18 and I hadn’t been shown. Which direction should I go? I learned that gifts are good, but not when they are used to manipulate others. And I saw that “being saved” didn’t work to cure the afflicted of their addictions, of their vice.
Of my doubt.
In each one of these places I learned what it was like to try to “save a pissant town and deliver it heaven with his daughter sitting like a cherry on top” (Footloose) Not the daughter part, but I saw the imagery at work in my life. I suddenly saw that it was not enough to be saved.
And I was too young for this. And I was lost. And I sought to lose myself.
But God found me. And he brought me to the Catholic Church, where there is a large framework; but freedom within that framework. Here Truth lived, and didn’t bludgeon outsiders. Here grace was everywhere! In the statues, and in the paintings; in the confessional and at the altar. I learned what a true altar call was. And I had no choice but to kneel.
And I see remnants of my former evangelical life creeping into the Catholic Culture.
I see people dictating ways to be holy: two fingers below the collar bone is modesty in shirtwear; be holy and add this devotional to your life; only read these books those books are bad.
And so, when I was feeling the pressure. When my Facebook feed started echoing the Bible Baptist Church Bus, I did what I do best.
I sat down and I wrote. And by doing so, I left the dessert and found my way back to the straight and narrow path.
The Catechism doesn’t say to avoid modern literature. It doesn’t tell you to restrict yourself to didactic fiction.
But neither should we turn a blind eye to what it is we consume.
So I read. And I write. And I pray.
I write to demystify today’s literature. To equip you with the information you need to relax when your children want to pick up “that book” and read it. To brief you on the important things, so that you can go on doing the most important thing.
And I pray that God shows you that golden mean of Christianity, so that you can go on living.