A Catholic's dilemma: To support love or the church?

April 17, 2012

On Sunday, I attended mass with my 79-year-old grandmother. Two months ago, she lost her husband, my grandfather. Ever since that day, she could not have a more positive attitude about moving onward in her life. This strength she so fervently displays day to day, she wholeheartedly attributes to her faith. As her top admirer, and as someone who had considered herself a faithful Catholic for much of her life, I decided to begin attending church again to discover this unyielding faith my grandmother seems to possess. It was going well until Sunday.

For the homily portion of mass, the priest read a letter from CardinalEdwin F. O'Brien, opposing same-sex marriage. I could not have been more uncomfortable sitting there. Had I not been with my grandmother, I would have stood up and left. I immediately felt as though I were surrounded by uninformed, insensitive individuals, none of whom I could relate to in any way, none of whom knew God as a loving being. I was heated with fury and had no desire to sit there and find out who this almighty power was who had been of such assistance to my grandmother.

Luckily, immediately after reading the Bishop's letter, the priest went on to baptize a young girl. Her vows were explicitly stated to God before she was anointed with holy water:

Do you renounce Satan? I do. And all his works? I do. Do you believe that there is only one God, the Creator, Preserver and Ruler of all things and the Father of all men? I do. Do you believe that this our God and Father is a just judge, Who rewards the good and punishes the wicked? I do.

As I sat there, I thought, yes, I do too. Maybe I do belong here.

How, though, can we be so about love and oppose such an issue as gay marriage? To restate, not even the most comprehensive baptismal vows have anything opposing a marriage between two people who love each other. In fact, I would consider it wicked to disallow this.

I struggle with the dichotomy of supporting love and supporting my religion. As has been seen in many realms of society today, politics, health and now marriage, religion is taking over social issues. We were born a secular country, and as a faithful Catholic, I hope that religion never is able to change this. I hope that one day I will know the faith my grandmother knows, but whether I will attend mass again in the future is still up in the air.

Marie A. Brown, Baltimore

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