The Faithful Scribbler

A Catholic Mother In A Secular World

Catholic Identity

on September 24, 2010

I’m having the beginnings of some thoughts that will probably develop over the next few weeks, regarding identity and Catholicism and culture.

the quality in a person or society that arises from a concern for what is regarded as excellent in arts, letters, manners, scholarly pursuits, etc.

that which is excellent in the arts, manners, etc.

a particular form or stage of civilization, as that of a certain nation or period: Greek culture.

development or improvement of the mind by education or training.

the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group: the youth culture; the drug culture.

Anthropology . the sum total of ways of living built up by a group of human beings and transmitted from one generation to another.

I feel as tho the Scribbler Family is Catholic by culture– not simply by religion.  Neither of us were raised in a terribly “practicing” household, so this is a culture we’re attempting to build from scratch.  Our values being what they are, this “cultural” Catholicism is influencing many areas of our life outside of our Sunday mornings– how we dress, what we eat, our holiday customs, our voting/political affiliations, what media we take in, etc.

From my perspective (but I realize not from others’), the hallmark visible sign of a Catholic family is the size of the family.  We, as Catholics, are well known for shunning birth control as immoral and against the will of God.  We believe in welcoming any and all souls God entrusts to our care.    Having a large family and raising children to know and love and serve God is such a fulfilling vocation!  More than that, it is the vocation I DESIRE!

I’m struggling a bit with identifying as I desire to with the Catholic culture we have immersed ourselves in here in Maryland.  The families in our parish are large– in fact, we are the only people I’ve met with a single child.  More than once, I’ve had other mothers ask me quite pointedly if Little Scribbler is our only child, a question immediately followed by the supplementary, “well when are you going to have another?”.  I can read the judgment in their eyes as plain as the type on this screen.   Why have we only one child?  Do we not believe in the teachings of the church?  Are we sinning by avoiding pregnancy?

So what am I supposed to do?  Tell every woman I meet that I have three babies in heaven already, that I would give anything to have them back on earth with me?  That I would give anything to have another child, and soon, through either natural birth or adoption?  Do I tell them how much I struggle with envy over their easy pregnancies: how listening to them complain about the horrors of stretch marks and C-sections stabs me right in the heart?  That every single day is a struggle not to judge the women around me– the pregnant teenager, pregnant drug addict, pregnant Duggar lady with her 19 Children and Counting?  I judge them as unappreciative complainers who don’t know how good they got it!

Our next adoption is going to be upwards of $15,000 if we work with Catholic Charities (which we intend to do).  Which means it isn’t going to be happening any time in the near future, unless we can find a grant or something.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining– we’ll find a way to raise the money and get this thing underway, or perhaps it will take long enough that Little Scribbler will be five years old or so, and we can adopt from foster care.  But all those women complaining about how inconvenient morning sickness is?  I want to choke them.  They dont need to take out a second mortgage just to add to their families.

My head is screaming “ITS NOT FAIR” over and over and over.

And then I remember that nothing about life is fair.  I have many blessings others are without.  God doesn’t want me to measure my blessings up against those of others.  Part of Catholic identity is visible (dress, mass attendance, family size), but part of Catholic identity is internal (prayer, humility, faithfulness).

I want the visible identity sometimes more than I want the internal identity and this is telling me that something in my priorities needs adjusting…

Maybe I’m having an identity crisis…


2 responses to “Catholic Identity

  1. anamidg says:

    You’re in my brain again. I swear I wrote this post, just today someone assumed that I’d given birth to Danger: and then asked when he was going to be a big brother. I just looked at them with my mouth open and mumbled something about how God apparently trusts me too much and walked away.

    I seriously wish that JUST once God would look down from heaven: smile, and make our next adoption happen quickly and easily. But apparently………I’m supposed to be a mother to the only adopted kid!


  2. Patrick says:

    Allow me to commend you on your undertaking.

    Take care to listen FAR MORE closely to your heart than your head.

    Our hearts are where God speaks to us before it reaches our heads.

    It’s a good practice [BUT very difficult] to not be overly concerned about what other think of us.

    As to the issue of additional children:

    Perhaps a true and charitable reply would be: we are leaving having [getting] other children in God’s hand. So far he has only Blessed us with LS. AFTER ALL God is in charge :).

    Love and continued prayers dear friend,


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