Why are you cranky, Catholic?

Grumpy Cat, Patron Pet of the Cranky Catholic

It struck me recently that being the Cranky Catholic might give people the wrong idea about me. Like, that I am cranky and grumpy and mean about everything Catholic. Far from it.

I find great joy and fulfillment in being a Catholic. I love our sacraments and our pageantry. Our music is often wonderfully moving. Our history is full of heroes, like the French Jesuits who tried the evangelize the Hurons (and lost fingers and lives in the process), awesome clerics like Oscar Romero and Ferdinand de las Casas who spoke out about injustice, and Jeanne D'Arc (Joan of Arc to you Anglos) who boldly defended her peoples' honor against the invader and the collaborateur. Our intellectual giants are awesome -- Paul, Augustin, Teilhard. Our imagery, from stain-glassed windows to illuminated manuscripts to luminous icons, is inspired and inspiring.

My purpose is several-fold.

1) I want to reclaim the Church for those who are being pushed out -- people like me, first of all, who are tagged as unfaithful because we aren't bowled over by Medjugorge, the Latin Mass or every second-rate miracle that ties the faithful into knows of devotion. People like the priests and nuns who left in the 1960s and the people who desperately desire to express their priesthood, but must do that elsewhere.

2) I want to keep the Church relevant and stimulating. It is usually good at feeding the heart, via music and liturgy. But when it stops feeding the head, by closing off discussion on important topics or basing its teaching on pin-headed scholarship and the views of an insulated clergy, I speak up.

3) I want the Church to be true to the Gospel. A Church that represents Christ in a way not consistent with the Gospels is no Church at all.

4) I want the Church to struggle. A Church that has stopped trying to figure things out has lost its way. If faith is a mystery, then it is inexhaustible. You cannot get to the bottom of it and figure it out. Like Jacob wrestling the angel, we must continually push for new meanings and understandings that speak to our souls today. And occasionally get our hips knocked out of their sockets. The devotions of yesteryear are nice, but they do not speak to the needs of all of today's seekers.

5) I want the Church to reflect God's love for humanity -- all humanity -- men, women, the young, the old, gay, straight, whatever. Telling me that God loves women and won't let them be priests cannot the way God looks at them.

6) I want my Church to survive. There is no guarantee that the Holy Spirit will always reside in the Catholic Church. The Spirit goes where it will. If we do not keep the flame of faith burning, the Spirit will look elsewhere. Why shouldn't it?

7) I want to be more proud of my Church. I want it to reclaim its reputation as being the bride of Christ Jesus on earth. When others speak about Catholicism, I don't want them to sneer and to mock, but to admire. We have so much to give, and so many to love.

So I am cranky -- not because I hate Catholicism, but because (paraphrasing Steve Jobs) it can be better. Much better. And I stay because without me, and people like me, the Church can only wither and die and become less of a force for good in this world. And that would make me very cranky indeed.