Tuesday, February 18, 2014
The Catholic Subculture is Cooler Than You Think
There has been some recent opining and criticism concerning the Catholic subculture of orthodox and faithful Catholics which I've found baffling. I know a thing or two about the Catholic subculture, and far from being a small subset of society of which we should be ashamed, it has become a vibrant, supportive, engaging, and vital community of people who not only fully profess all the teachings of the Catholic Church but also aren't hiding from the world and instead sharing the joy of faith.
There may not be many of us Rome-lovin' Catholics statistically, but what numbers we have cannot be so stereotypically shoved into the bin of judgemental, overrun-with-children, backwoods types who cling in darkness to our Baltimore Catechisms while tossing holy water at tv sets. The times have been a-changing.
As a cradle Catholic who was homeschooled, went on to attend itty-bitty (but wonderful) Catholic post-secondary schools, then married and had five children, I feel I've seen the full spectrum of the faithful Catholic subculture. It has developed and changed for the better since I was a child and was one of the only kids I knew who was practicing any type of faith AND homeschooled. I've witnessed a culture that thought sheltering their family from "the world" was the only way to develop faith to the culture of my generation which seeks to embrace the good of the world while offering it so much better with the truth of the Gospel.
Today's Catholic subculture is one of engagement with each other and with those outside the faith. It seeks to deepen our own love of Christ while inviting everyone to take another look. There has been an influx of Catholic writing, websites, blogs, books, schools and ministries that ten years ago I couldn't have dreamed of enjoying. We're Catholics with a sense of humour, who enjoy the home while taking on today's faulty modern philosophies, and taking about fashion or politics.
When I look around at the Catholic culture of my generation I see one that is not bent on judging either those outside the faith or those sitting in the pew next to us, but one of encouragement, support, and joy. Those of us who have a strong orthodox faith believe out of a passionate personal conviction either chosen from being brought up in the faith, or having converted upon investigating spirituality despite the tenants of the Church being so contrary to today's mainstream culture. My Catholic friends are not judgmental or puritanical because they eschew contraception and are stridently pro-life, they are compassionate and energetic in supporting life lived to the fullest. We're also trying to encourage one another in discovering new depths to our faith, how to incorporate the Church's liturgical year into our daily lives, sharing the triumphs and trials of family life and discussing moral themes of The Walking Dead and Arcade Fire.
We're not splitting hairs in judgement of how our fellow Catholics are using NFP, but we are talking about it for a change. We're talking about how using NFP isn't easy, how it needs a lot of grace, support and science; how it's ok to want a lot of children, and how hard it can be to experience infertility yet stay faithful to Church teachings.
We're not condemning those who don't understand the faith. We're engaging them. In the workplace, online, in the supermarket aisle when the checkout lady asks if all of those kids belong to us. We're in the culture in whatever form it wants to engage, because we're not running away to shelter ourselves, but trying to share the beauty of faith by just living our lives honestly, while not apologizing or hiding the joy it brings.
Great Catholic writing of all types is spreading throughout the internet and publishing. Many Catholic writers have become popular bloggers and have used their audience to attract publishers for books that can reach an even greater amount of people. With this example the hopes for bringing about more good Catholic art seems more attainable especially with new schools being formed and with the help of technology in spreading good art and connecting artists. It may take a while to trickle down to becoming better art in more places, but we're supporting beauty in our Catholic community and bringing it to others, by exposing our children to it, and maybe showing just our neighbours, coworkers or friends.
We may be homeschooling our children, but in case you haven't noticed homeschooling has gone mainstream. Many people are now homeschooling to further their children's education where traditional schools have failed, or to live a lifestyle that they believe to be more authentic to their beliefs; us Catholics are no different and simply want the best for our children, both for their education and for their souls to grow in the faith.
And while we may know a lot about the proper performance of the liturgy, we also know that denim jumpers aren't a dogma of the Church. We're a culture that seeks the goodness of a good beer, and loves to share a bottle of wine over a delicious meal while chatting about our favourite saints. We may bond easily with those who also profess a devotion to the Rosary, but it's out of a shared love for something greater than ourselves not a desire to further our clique or only befriend those who fulfill a Papist checklist.
The Catholic subculture of today is one that embraces the good of our world today while welcoming all to come take another look at the truths of a Church that changes our lives for the better. There is wonderful diversity of interests and talents in this subculture, a subculture that will only grow as we raise our families to know a big, beautiful Church full of Sacraments, devotions, and grace that the world so willfully misunderstands. We're not a self-centred bunch, we know there is so much more we have in common and face a culture so violent to our own that we must look to how we can support each other, and become what Pope Francis calls a "people who wish to share their joy, who point to a horizon of beauty and who invite others to a delicious banquet."
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