This week, I’d like to introduce you to one of our Loyola Press authors. Catherine Brunell’s book, Becoming Catholic, Again, will be released in just a week or two. It’s an intelligent and heartfelt look at how faith must stretch, mature, adjust, and find its way throughout a person’s life. I will let Catherine’s work speak for itself.
From the Introduction:
For my first twenty years, my Catholic faith mattered. It was the source I relied on to make sense of things. I was raised Catholic in a parish that served pancake breakfasts and had a huge carnival each summer. It was the place of my first communion, my wedding, and later, my son Hank’s baptism. I also attended school there for thirteen years. I won my first political office in student council, I learned to play soccer, and I met my first love, all within a three-building complex. Then, in what I thought at the time was just a coincidence, I found myself at a Catholic college. What I know now is that Catholicism is my first language in meaning making. I am drawn to it because its symbols, rituals, and community feel like home.
But, as with the physical home of childhood, we find it difficult to remain there at times. We evolve, but the roles we play and that others play for us in that space called home do not always adapt in tempo. I hit this tension in faith and thus became a reluctant Catholic. I wanted my relationship with God but not the limited experience I saw in the church. I continued to attend Mass and be part of various churches, but I often left the experiences feeling annoyed or offended. At one point, I thought of the church as another man’s club and vowed to pray only with feminine images. And yet, even though I was so angry, I still could not leave completely. I was a resentful Catholic and felt shut out of the very place that had prompted many of the questions I was asking. This is not unlike being lured into a situation or behavior by an older sibling only to be left alone when something goes wrong.
At that point, I chose distance. To my benefit, the longing to be connected to my faith only intensified. What was essential about a spiritual life began to emerge because of its absence. Having a new definition of what I needed and wanted, I saw that I was actually very Catholic and in a way that was congruent with my experience and the tradition I loved. With a clarified vision of the whys and hows of my spiritual life, I began letting go of the stuff that was preventing me from celebrating it. I saw that being Catholic as I am is the only way I will ever be Catholic, and it is enough.
For the DDF community: Do you relate to what Catherine has written, or not? Tell us about it.