When my Christian, evangelical buddies rip on Catholicism, or dismiss it entirely (which is sometimes even worse), I get incredibly annoyed because often they (like me, before I became a roommate to three nuns) are speaking out of ignorance.  I am reminded tonight of a good friend of mine’s frustration, in that society has made her faith out to be a freak show of idolization and rigidity.   Of course, this doesn’t take myself off the hook; I admit that I passed tremendous judgment on my Catholic brothers and sisters before I became a part of this program and lived with nuns.  I definitely hated on some traditional practices that seemed like blatant absurdity or narrow-mindedness.

God has taken these past four months and used them to open my heart and mind, sometimes taking me places I’d rather not go in order to show me that I am way too prideful of my Protestantism instead of finding my pride in Him only.  He has revealed Himself to me while in Mass, while participating in traditionally Catholic prayers or services, and that shouldn’t shock me or my evangelical friends.  My roommate my junior year in college decided to become a Catholic. I am just beginning to sympathize with her frustration that no one understood or really cared, and Campus Crusade for Christ, with which I was a leader at the time, practically shunned her for it.  She left Crusade feeling bruised by her family in Christ and rejected them, and me, in return because of it.  I admit that my response to her desire was less than graceful.  I had just pursued a sincere knowledge of God that previous summer, or was “reborn” so to speak, so I was rejuvenated with strictly evangelical ideals and so I could not, at the time, understand even her desire to become a Catholic.  I didn’t get it and I judged her for it.  Right now my heart breaks for how terrible she must have felt because of me and my dismissive attitude about it all.

Now I am on the other side of the fence; I have been exposed to some beautiful Catholics, even apart from the nuns I live with, and learned about the tradition and the reasoning behind the devotion, the Saints, the iconography and the liturgy.  I get it now.  I don’t agree with all of it, for sure.  But a slew of my Protestant friends still don’t get it and don’t seem to even want to.  Like it is irrelevant, or something.  I’m not even Catholic but because I have grown to cherish the tradition as a part of their community, I’m finding that my friends’ comments can be downright hurtful, and their dismissive tones hit me square in the face.

I want them to be aware of the gems that Catholicism has to offer, like I have experienced.  I feel like until real community is experienced within a tradition – or any belief system for that matter – a person is still going to be ignorant in some way or form.  I understand Catholicism because I have been immersed in it for the past four months.  I can read texts on Islam until my eyes fall out, but I will never really understand or empathize unless in put myself in their community, make friends with Muslims in the neighborhood or experience their traditions first hand.  How else would I begin to see the similarities between our faiths?  Or begin to look at a Muslim as a potential brother in Christ, let alone one of God’s cherished beings?  The same applies within the Christian faith, between Protestants and Catholics, and I can say that because God has allowed me to experience this first hand.  I believe that God wants me and you to be informed.

My initial ignorance may have been judgmental bliss to me, but it certainly wasn’t bliss to God.