Saturday, March 10, 2007

I'm Not Trippin'

I saw a bumper sticker this morning that said "Faith is a journey - not a guilt trip." I think this was a slam on the Catholic church because there was also another church (protestant) sticker on the car.

I know that it's the conventional wisdom that the Catholic church is all about guilt. And, believe me, Catholics carry a lot of it. However, since I've been doing the regular church attendance thing while Annika is in religious classes, I've thought a lot about this guilt and whether the Church puts it on the parishoners or if the parishoners put it on themselves. The priests joke about it a lot, so it's not news to them.

Here is what I think - there is always a "better" Catholic. For folks who don't make weekly Mass, it's the regulars. For the regulars, it's the Eucharistic ministers or ushers. For those folks, it is the folks who do adoration. For those folks, it is the daily Mass attenders or the Deacons or whoever. Someone is always commenting favorably on all of the ways that you can give of yourself (time, talent, $) to the church and there are always opportunities to do it. So, it's only natural for we competitive creatures to want to be the best at any or all of these things. The failure to do so causes guilt.

So, I don't think that is necessarily a bad thing. If a rational, thoughtful, adult feels guilt because he or she COULD be doing more volunteer work or giving more money or attending more activies, that is not a bad thing - especially if it impels them to do good things. I think, though, that the words "rational" and "thoughtful" are the keys, though, because a person can do only so much.


Nat said...

Stpeh you're the beest Catholic I know. :)

Steph Bachman said...


Dorothy Gould said...

Your post made me feel better about missing Mass yesterday. Sophie even missed PSR. But, since I am subbing in her class every other week, I feel that makes up for it. There's my guilt coming out!

Wes said...

I'm the best non-practicing Catholic I know :-) The whole guilt thing is about trying to get folks to come to church.

Colin said...

I think the guilt thing gets carried too far and the REAL beneficiary has become the Catholic Church. As a matter of fact, isn't that how Protestantism kind of began? Martin Luther said, "Hey, indulgences suck! We shouldn't be asking people to pay all this money to save their soul. All people have to do is have faith in God, and that alone is justification for their salvation." (Okay, he probably said it in German and probably not quite like I put it, but you get the picture.)

I think the point of the bumper sticker you saw was to point out that Catholicism uses guilt as a tool...but guilt is something humans invented, not God.

I agree that having guilt about things outside of your faith can make you a better person, and I really don't have a problem with that. But when a church starts using guilt as a tool that forces people to be fearful of their level of faith in their God, that seems emotionally and spiritually manipulative.

Camille said...

We just had a lesson on guilt in my mother's group. The point of the discussion was that all guilt is something WE put on ourselves. No one can make us feel guilty. We give in to the guilt- or something like that. It was an interesting take.