Sallie is a retired mother and grandmother who has written short stories for most of her life. Her stories are from her heart to yours.
Being Catholic doesn't mean you are blind to what has happened.
"Quit making me be a bad Catholic!"
I've been a Catholic since the day I was held in my Aunt Dee Dee and Cousin Junior's arms and Father Aboud poured water over my head at the Lebanese church.
I took for granted that I was a Catholic and if I ever doubted it, there was an army of nuns and priests to remind me for 12 years that I was. It wasn't something I ever questioned. It just was.
Along with being Catholic, came faith. I had no clue that I had it but the daily presence of those nuns and priests and religion classes and Mass and Communion and all the trappings that go with Catholic education, instilled that faith inside me whether I realized it or not.
I haven't always been a good Catholic. Heck, for that matter I haven't always been a good person. I am honest if I tell people that as a teenager, I could be a mean girl. Not a bully and not taunting others. But more than willing to join in others of my friends who were also being mean girls in talking about someone who we didn't think was cool.
Being judgemental of others is not being a good Catholic. And as an adult I often found myself being judgemental and impatient. I knew in my heart of hearts, that the way I was often acting wasn't the way Christ would act.
In the past several years I have come to realize that for me to be a truly good Catholic doesn't mean I need to throw Bible verses around. And it doesn't mean that I have to tell everyone I meet that I will pray for them, although I do pray for many of my friends and family. Nor does it mean that I need to tell the world that I'm a believer. And it doesn't mean that I fall prey to accepting whatever has happened within the hierarchy of my Church.
What it means for me is that I try to live the Golden Rule. I try to be kind when I can and when I can't, I try to just keep my trap shut and find something that is good in others.
I have also come full circle with this faith thing. Boy is that a tough one. Faith means you just know that when dark times come around, as they always do for everyone at one point or another, you must have something to sustain you and point you to tomorrow when the sun will shine again. And for me this has always been a tough one. I was raised in negativity. I had a Mom who just couldn't see her way past all the bad things in life. And I absorbed that way of thinking. So as an adult I tended to be negative or as my kids would say "high drama" about everything. I saw everything as the worst case scenario with no grey between the black and the white.
I have been working on that. And without knowing that I've had it all along, there have been so many times when it was faith that pulled me through and anchored me back into reality. This, of course, was never more true than last year at this time as I was going through my battle with breast cancer.
You don't know when you hear that you have cancer if you are going to live or die. No doctor can predict that outcome from this disease. And I was scared, really, truly scared, that I could die.
But somewhere inside me, somewhere I didn't even know existed, was that faith thing and no matter how scared I was, and no matter what the outcome of cancer for me might be, I knew I would be okay. I knew I could face even the worst news.
And for me, I owe all of this to the Catholic Church. Perhaps had I been raised Lutheran or Methodist or Jewish, I might feel the same way. But I wasn't. I was raised Catholic.
And so, no matter what scandal has fallen upon the Church, the one, true Church created by Jesus Christ Himself, I will still and always be, a Catholic. My faith lies within my belief in Jesus Christ as the One who saves me. And no scandal, no Pope, nothing that happens within the confines of a brick and mortar building will ever shake that.
So I make sure to let my amazing family and my amazing friends know how much they mean to me. I work everyday on not being that mean girl or that judgemental girl. I try to be kinder and more patient and to hug and kiss those I love and tell them how wonderful they are and how much I appreciate them.
And when I fall down hard sometimes, faith pulls me back up and puts me on the right track.
And it's those times when I realize that no one but me can make me be a bad Catholic.