I had some good experiences in Catholic school, too. The church has changed a lot, particularly under Pope Francis, who would wholeheartedly agree with Sister Patricia. For me though, the changes in the liturgy are uncomfortable, and the fact that mostly only truly devout people go to Mass every Sunday anymore has made the experience awkward for lapsed little old me. What I loved about being a Catholic in the past is that, in spite of attending Mass once a week and on holy days, the other parishioners pretty much left you alone, it was more of an internal experience that was expressed in the way you lived your life. There were groups you could join like the festival committee or the folk mass singers, but there wasn’t all this pressure to participate outside religious services that there seems to be today. I find the forced concept of “community” annoying. The sign of peace, Bible studies, workshops, support groups, some lay person assigned to pester you to participate. I’m sure other people love all that but it’s a turnoff for me. In any case, it’s sad that praising the Catholic Church in any way has become problematic. In spite of the problems, abuse of power, and all the rest, it has inspired countless people to live more charitable and compassionate lives and offered aid and comfort to the distressed throughout its history. In an organization so large, you’re bound to have membership that runs the gamut between saint and unrepentant sinner. The Church is its people and people are all too human.

I write whatever I want, like poetry The New Yorker wouldn’t dare print. Visit me at denisesheltonwrites.com.

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