Holier than Thou?

Image of chalice from Microsoft Office ImagesSeveral weeks ago I attended an archdiocese meeting. Seated at rounds of six with other Catholics involved in their parishes, the conversation started with a time in our lives when our faith made a difference and progressed into what can our parish and archdiocese do to improve our services.

Maybe I’ve been a little bit of a Pollyanna in the rebirth of my faith, because I had a hard time coming up with anything our parish needs to do better. I’ve spent the last eighteen months on Pastoral Council discerning some pretty big changes: improving our Life Teen coordination, expanding our adult faith formation into new classes, and developing the ever-growing resources available via online audio and CDs. I’ve taught elementary CCE for four years, which lead to signing up for some eye-opening FTCM classes on Ministry, the Old Testament and New Testament this past spring.

But that night, sitting around the table with other “good Catholics” I felt like a terrible sinner, being reminded over and over how much I still don’t know, don’t practice, don’t understand. That night I caught a glimpse of how some might feel driven away when others exhibit a superior attitude about our church and faith. I hope Lisa and I never come across like that on this blog. Believe me, if you ever feel that we are coming across as “holier than thou” or “something special,” I hope you call us on it.

One woman embarked on a long rant about how young people today commit the mortal sin of purposefully not attending Mass on Sunday. That’s a sin I’ve committed more than a few times a year with my busy schedule. But that doesn’t make me a terrible person. A sinner, yes. But we are all sinners. God knows this. He has given us His Divine Mercy through the sacrifice of His Son.

I understand that our faith comes with some very specific rules, and that sometimes understanding and accepting these rules is terribly difficult. I know that it’s not my place to question which rule is right and which rule can be bent a little. However, I also understand that these rules are meant to guide us, draw us to a better relationship with God. We are all on our own paths toward God as He calls us, leads us, and guides us. Just in the past four years, I’ve grown a great deal in my faith. I’m really learning so much more depth about what the Church teaches adn why, and I find myself spending a lot of time discerning whether I truly believe in all of those things. What’s more difficult then is that once I know I do truly believe, I must consider what I need to change in my life in order to fully embrace those teachings and beliefs into my everyday living. How do I surrender to God’s will and God’s way every day. It’s new, it’s a struggle, and I’m imperfect.

This life and our individual relationship with God is a very personal continuous journey. Lead others, not with criticism, but with encouragement.


Shelly Henley Kelly