Dear Pope Francis,
A few weeks ago, Lauren wrote about how she needs to get out of her Catholic bubble and engage with the world more. I’m a little jealous that she has a Catholic bubble to begin with.
One of the hardest things about coming back to the Church is the feeling of otherness I brought back with me.
In my second year of university I took a course with Fr. Dolan. One of the concepts we spent a lot of time discussing was how the essence of who we are is influenced by our life surround. When there is disconnect between our values and our life surround, one of them is going to change.
My life surround is the people, places, and things I interact with every day. When I left the Church there was otherness amongst my secular friends. The sense of being different didn’t really start to fade until I gave up many of the moral beliefs I had been raised with.
Some were easy to let go of because they were never deeply held, for example the prohibition against same sex couples. Other virtues, like temperance were easy to disregard but hard to ignore entirely.
Little by little, I became less the well-behaved Catholic I was raised as and more in sync with the attitudes my friends held. My life surround contained people and things contrary to the values I was raised with, so the values changed.
Coming back to the Catholic Church was like putting on a favourite shirt I hadn’t worn since the middle of puberty. I loved the familiar feel of the ritual of Mass and the music was still exactly the right shade to soothe my soul. But it didn’t fit like it had before, because I had developed and changed. The sleeves were too short and I couldn’t run easily in it because there wasn’t room for my chest to move when I breathed.
I’ve been blessed to meet so many good people and to make the few close friends I have made in the four and a half years since I came back to the church. The Catholic Church shirt I wear now is torn and tie-dyed. It fits loosely. Often when I consciously try to spend time with other young adults in the Church, it feels like they’re trying to make me wear my old shirt.
I miss having a Christian bubble to be a part of, but my old shirt just doesn’t fit anymore. I want my life surround to have more people who share my belief in God and more opportunities for me to learn about the practical side of Christian living. But it’s also really important to me to remain approachable for people outside the church, and I need my tie-dye church shirt for that.
Awkward and othered,
P.S. Pretty sure being pope gives you a little extra pull with God. Can you please remind him it’s supposed to be springtime in Canada?