‘I don’t think you are a proper catholic,’ my friend said to me one day after mass. ‘Why?’ I asked, a bit offended by the comment. ‘For starters, you always go for communion, even if you’re late. Plus you just said you don’t even remember the last time you went for confession.’
‘Mmm… I guess you have a point.’
At the time this conversation was had, I was inwardly celebrating how I’d become consistent with my church-going and communion taking. God had had a conversation with me about not neglecting the ‘fellowship of the brethren’. So far, I was going to church. Though I hadn’t spoken to a lot of people, I had started staying behind after mass for a few minutes to say hello. It was a small church. Saying hello to everyone after church wasn’t such a big deal if you wanted to.
I was also going for communion. Consistently. That was also a big win for me because I always felt so self-conscious when joining the queue and waiting my turn that I stopped going altogether. I felt like the whole world was watching me go and say ‘Amen’ and open my mouth. The pressure was too much. However, I was practicing obedience. Which meant that, I had to get out of my head and walk toward the altar to participate in the wonderful gift of bread-breaking and wine-drinking.
Of course, the young man did not know any of this. All he knew was that there were rules and I was breaking them. Thank God for Jesus. Thank God it’s not all about rule-following. Thank God for grace. Grace that found me when I didn’t go to church early or owned a Bible or knew all the responses during mass. Grace that saw an ‘improper’ catholic girl and called her My Beloved.
One day, I hope I write a proper post on Grace. Grace that found me bombarding myself with lies and instead of reprimanding me, lovingly showed me the truth. Grace.
To a large extent, I do not think there is anything particularly wrong with the things he pointed out. It has taken me a while to realise that being a ‘proper catholic’ was never my topmost priority anyway. It has always been about God and the relationship we had.
If asked today, I am sure my friend would still say that I am not a proper catholic. However, it doesn’t really offend me anymore. Being a proper catholic is kinda overrated anyway. I just want to be a proper daughter, a proper worshipper, a proper servant, a proper Christian, a proper disciple, a proper believer… a proper co-heir with Christ. So, pardon me, if I don’t tick off all the proper boxes. I don’t even have the list!
Dr Nyameba 💜