Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How 'catholic' are we?

Have you ever noticed how every person who stands while you are kneeling during a mass is devil's minion and how every person who genuflects while you kneel is a hypocrite?

Everybody has a set of ideas about spirituality. Some may pray only in trouble, others all the time, some might yell at the top of their voice while singing a hymn(even though they may not know the lyrics or the tune), others may just be happy listening to the choir.

I remember getting the puked up feeling whenever I saw someone breaking down in tears while making a prayer(and many a times it was accompanied by the sound of sucking the snot in!), I also remember snorting at the altar servers; who would turn up sometimes even an hour early and fight among themselves to be the servers for the mass. An most of all I hated the distracting babies who just wouldn't let me pray in peace. Oh how I wished the parents would leave their wailing infants and fussy toddlers at home!

I had my set of rules, my style of praying, my way of behaving, my way of saying the prayers(loud and frequently punctuated with intonations). I thought, mine and only mine was the way that was truly catholic(or atleast was more catholic than others).

But then I encountered something that changed my whole outlook. I was sitting with a dictionary one day, trying to find some new word, and suddenly I wondered whether the dictionary had a definition of catholic.

And guess what, there actually was a definition, and it took me by shock!

catholic(n): all embracing, universal

I sat there, staring at the words. Catholic... All embracing... Universal... 

Slowly it dawned on me that my faith, and the faith of others was the same, the universal faith, and that being catholic was to embrace all those who shared my faith even if they had a different way of expressing it.

So now I don't shudder at the emotional person's crying prayer, nor do I wrinkle my nose on the parents who want to attend the mass and bring their children too so that they may learn something. I no longer mock the loud 'hallelujah' nor do I cringe at the old lady's nasal rendition of a hymn. Because for each of them it is a form of prayer, a form of offering to God, a way to communicate to Him.

Now I have a catholic approach towards my diverse friends in Christ, because they are diverse in expression, not in FAITH.