Making Good Things Go Bad

When I was young, I often wondered why it was so hard for people to be “good” Catholics. After all, if you didn’t steal, didn’t kill, went to Mass, and were generally nice to people, you could pull it off, I thought. Then I grew up, and learned a little more about life.

And started blogging. 

When I truly started thinking about what goes into living a good and holy life under God’s plan, I realized that not only was it not as easy as I once thought, it was downright difficult. And when I looked around at the world, I began to see just how complicated we’ve made it for ourselves. 

In a way, our ability to make sin even more complicated than it already is reminds of something all mothers say at one time or another, when in their efforts to make a warm, clean and welcoming home, children and tired husbands throw a money wrench into things. You know, someone spills grape juice on the new sofa she’s wanted for years, etc. “This,” she laments, “is why we can’t have nice things!”

It seems, our humanity and sinful habits, can ruin what are honest intentions to make life better or easier.

For instance, take insurance, something we all hate dealing with. We hate the complicated nature of it. We hate the cost. We hate that we need it. And while I would never defend this industry, which I find dishonest in its own right, insurance consumers themselves, in some ways, have created the very exploitive practices insurers lean on.

Car insurance is mandated in most of these United States. In theory, the existence of insurance should make life easier for us when we have a problem, and should keep us from having to purchase new cars when someone else has a bad driving day. We drive recklessly enough and file enough claims that insurers rarely make much of a profit on car insurance. 

However, many people see “opportunity” here to get over on the man. They lie on claims, collude with friends in the auto body, legal and law enforcement fields, and defraud insurers for countless dollars every year. They’ll tell you it’s no big deal, lead you to believe they’re smarter than you while they’re spending money paid out by someone else’s insurance company. But it all comes down to old fashioned lying and stealing. Someone out there just got a major rate increase, and over time insurance becomes more expensive for everyone. Sounds sinful to me. Yet our friends, family, neighbors – many be even we ourselves – regularly engage in such activity.

How about technology? One of the biggest new stresses we all face is the dreaded “password.” We have one for almost everything we do online from Facebook to banking. We’re always forgetting them, resetting them, emailing for new ones, etc. They must have one capital letter, one number, be so many characters long, and require 18 different emails and an act of Congress to change. Think of how much time we’ve spent agonizing  over passwords since we’ve developed all of this technology meant to make our lives easier, more efficient and give us more time to do better things.

Why do we have “passwords?” Because of all the dishonest, overeducate techies out there who think it’s fun to invade our privacy, outthink us, and throw everyday people simply trying to trudge through daily life into complete chaos. Everyday, there’s a new hack somewhere. At our banks, hospitals, universities, governments – anywhere thieves can get information to steal identities. Then there are those who prey on our children as they use one of the most amazing learning tools we’ve ever invented. 

That great technology we’ve invented, by the grace of the intelligence God has given us, has brought us more stress, more government regulation, more crime and more cunning criminals than anyone could have imagined.

Then there are lifesaving pharmaceuticals held just out of reach to those who truly need them by astronomical profit margins. Or government programs meant to help the neediest, looted by able-bodied people who think only of themselves. 

Now, I believe in capitalism, honest business and making a good living. What I don’t believe in are 400 percent profit margins, collecting taxpayer money when you aren’t paying your own share, and exploiting technology used by the entire world for advancement to rape, cheat and steal.

How often do we use good things like insurance, technology, even our own intelligence to hurt others for our own gain? Upon examining my conscience more thoroughly, I was surprised to find how often such “opportunities” come my way, and how I had slipped in my response on occasion. It’s yet another flaw I’m working on with God.

Being a good Catholic can be quite more complicated than it may seem in our modern world. Just because our modern ways of stealing, exploiting and sinning aren’t spelled out in the Ten Commandments per se doesn’t mean they don’t affect our relationship with God and others. 

Teach Your Children Well

School is starting this week all around our area. Parents are running to and fro making sure their children have everything they need on that list of supplies, making sure they still have uniform compliant clothing in their drawers, checking in on any new rules and teachers, and generally driving themselves batty with minutia.

More and more these days, however, there are a few things we need to provide our children with for school that we won’t. Or can’t, in some cases. What they really seem to need is the ability to enter school with confidence, a bit of psychological toughness and some humility.

Or, more clearly, either the capability to endure being bullied, or the values that keep one from becoming the bully.

Yes, I recognize that schools far and wide have what we now call “bully programs,” which in most cases dedicate time in the school week to sitting around talking about being nice to one another and telling on the bullies. Sound good? I’ll let you in on a secret. It doesn’t work.

Here’s why : every possible protection in our school system is given to the bully but almost no consideration to the bullied. Most teachers and administrators don’t want to deal with this, for good reason. The liability in confronting the bully and his or her family can be enormous, especially in a private school where there are entanglements with personal connections and potential for financial support. In the case of the bullied, there can be legal concern if someone is physically or emotionally injured. Best that no teacher, aide, or administrator has knowledge of the situation prior to any escalation. Plausible deniability means less monetary damage.

I’m not blaming teachers and administrators per se. After sifting through bullying issues and consequences, for myself years ago and more recently with both of my girls, I have been unable to discover any real workable solution to this problem. I have learned much about the bully phenomenon, however, and as school starts again, I feel compelled to share some of this with parents. So:

1. THIS HAPPENS IN YOUR SCHOOL. I don’t care where you send your child to school. Bullying happens there. If you think Catholic or Christian school is exempt somehow because children have classes in religion, are compelled to do service and practice the commandments, you are dead wrong. In fact, such schools, which rely heavily on parents for fundraising, donations and volunteer time, may struggle with this even more. Kids are smart when it comes to knowing what they can and can’t get away with.

2. BULLYING CAN BE MORE ABOUT HOME THAN SCHOOL. Carefully examine your child’s home life and experiences outside of school. Bullying is a learned behavior. Is your child in regular contact with someone who puts him or her or other people down? Are they berated, teased or laughed at? Kids imitate. Chances are, if your child bullies someone else, they have experienced it along the way, or have witnessed someone they love doing it.

3. ITS NOT OVER WHEN YOU SEPARATE THE BULLY FROM THE VICTIM Kids who get bullied don’t forget about it. They carry the damage with them, and constantly question their worth and ability as a result. Many will not engage in activities they enjoy for fear they will fail and be laughed at. They will not try new things, speak up, read aloud, or volunteer, and will act completely different at school than at home. They stunt their own personal development to avoid mean kids. I know many parents who think the answer to this is to remove their child from a school where they are bullied. But the stress of starting over at a new school after being abused by other kids only causes more problems. I know a parent who keeps moving her child between schools because she thinks teachers are mean to her when they reprimand her for bad behavior. Now children in multiple schools dread interacting with this child!

4. IT HURTS THEIR CHANCES TO ACHIEVE In the classroom, kids who experience abuse or trauma are known to go into a type of security mode where they think about nothing but avoiding additional damage. They’re learning ability actually shuts off. Catholics, I learned about this during my mandatory reporter training for child abuse. And I’ve experienced it with one of my daughters. After years of above average standardized test scores, hers fell to well below average in less than one year. But she could tell me all the answers correctly when I worked with her at  home. We have a lot to make up academically this year. It’s simply not fair for any child to be terrified of their school work because other kids tease them for getting an answer wrong or taking longer to complete an assignment.

5. BULLIED KIDS ARE NOT WHINERS OR WIMPS I often hear adults say kids who claim they are bullied are just wimpy and need to suck it up. Don’t believe it. These kids are brave and walk into the lions den everyday where people who are supposed to help them simply cannot for a wide variety of reasons. Sometimes they do start to believe everyone is a bully, and have to be taught that not every bad thing that happens in their lives is aimed directly at them. But don’t underestimate them. Many are bullied because they are exceptional in some way or talented in another. Or even because they’re ordinary. I’ve seen kids bullied simply because they have both a mother and a father in their household. Or because their parents took them to Walt Disney World. Kids don’t have to have special needs, or be unconventional on some way to be bullied. It can be as simple as being the new kid.

The truth is kids can find lots of reasons not to like someone else when they regularly see adults disrespecting other people. As the adults, we probably don’t even realize that we do it. Do we favor some of our kids friends because they’re smarter, more athletic, more attractive, better dressed, more involved, whatever? Do we disrespect our kids and their brothers and sisters in the way we discipline them? Or maybe we make fun of random people we encounter during the day and invite our kids to laugh with us?  You know, that weirdly dressed woman in Wal-Mart? The kid on the ball team who never gets in to play? The grouchy old man down the street?

Take some time early this school year to remind your children that everyone has value, no matter how different or odd they may seem. Every child in their class and school deserves their respect, if not their friendship, and the opportunity to come to school every day without fear.

There may be little we can do to erase bullying’s impact once it occurs. But we can do a lot about our adult behavior, and how it influences the way our kids treat others. And we can serve as a reminder to them every day that the world takes all kinds of people to turn, and that everyone of them, rich, poor, cool, nerdy, acne-prone, tomboy, and on and on, deserves the most basic respect.

Golden Evangelism

Rio de Janiero is, quite literally, a city watched over by God. The remarkable monument of Christ the Redeemer, completed in 1931 and renovated in 2010, looks over the rich and poor, Rio’s infamous festivals and parties, and, this summer, the Olympic Games.

All of my life, I’ve loved the Olympics. I have wonderful memories of watching. I still remember my father, who lived in Romania before emigrating to the United States, telling me someday he’d show me the country where Nadia Commanichi grew up. Watching Mary Lou Retton score a perfect 10 with my childhood best friend. The Miracle on Ice. Greg Louganis, Flo-Jo, Carl Lewis, Tommy Moe, Shaun White.

More recently, I’d lost, my enthusiasm for the Games. Watching pros decimate small countries in basketball wasn’t my thing. I was sick of doping scandals, host country bashing, trash talking, and whining. Considering the media beating Rio took before the Games even opened, I was very uninterested in this year’s Olympics. I knew we would be watching in some form, but I wasn’t really paying attention.

But then something happened that hasn’t happened in a long time, if it ever really had. God came down off that mountain in Brazil, and became part of the Games. Like I did as a child, my girls, and countless young people around the world, we’re watching. And the very heroes of the hour – the BIG names – started thanking God, talking about their faith, and, in the way only they can, began inspiring people to trust in the Lord.

The first story I saw on this was about gymnast Simone Biles finding time to attend Mass in Rio amid an absolutely crazy schedule of practice, competition, interviews and events. I was impressed – I know I myself haven’t always been as diligent on my travels. Initially I chalked it up to her mother. But by the second week, Biles had me chuckling with delight. When Bob Costas asked her after winning her fifth gold medal what she was going to do in Rio with gymnastics competition wrapped up, she enthusiastically told him she was going to eat junk food and visit Christ the Redeemer. Like a true American journalist, Costas couldn’t shut her up fast enough about her religion. He was outmatched.

Michael Phelps himself spent a lot of time talking in his interviews about how he found God in the midst of severe depression, which allowed him to return to the Olympics once again and add even more medals to his incredible collection. Watching him kiss his infant child poolside after one race was an incredible moment. I often thought of him before as a swimming machine – someone with a singular purpose in life. I wasn’t even sure I liked him – he didn’t even seem to have a personality. Amazing in his greatest success, he has become an evangelist to the extent of God’s love for His people.

And who could forget Simone Manuel’s surprise at winning her first Olympic gold, and exclaiming “God is great!” Katie Ledecky looking back over the pool for her competitors. Or African track and field runners carrying pictures of the Virgin Mary? Or decorated beach volleyball star Kerri Walsh Jennings proclaiming she was born to play volleyball and have babies? Then there were American synchronized diving silver medalists David Boudia and Steele Johnson declaring their Christian identity, and Usain Bolt carrying his Miraculous Medal. Add in Gabby Douglas traveling with her Bible, her teammate Lori Hernandez, gold medal swimmer Maya DiRado and track and field superstars Allyson Felix and English Gardner (my favorite name of the Games this year!) and children everywhere must be learning about and witnessing the power of faith.

When has that happened recently in such a high profile venue, with so many human role models putting their clout behind God? I can’t recall a time in my life.

Granted the entire Rio games have not been about goodness and the power of God. When athletes stunt their own dreams so they do not have to compete against a person from an “enemy country” or trash players on another team because that team unexpectedly upset their chances at a medal, the world still has a long way to go.

But when truly famous people who will spend a good deal of their time in the near future entertaining proposals to sponsor products and services, are not afraid to speak their minds and hearts about their personal faith in God, something is going right in the world. Even if Bob Costas would rather talk French fries and Zac Efron.

Thank you Simone, Michael, Simone, Kerri, Allyson, Usain, David, Steele, Gabby, Maya and so many other incredible athletes for inspiring children not only to excel physically, but spiritually. You are all truly Golden. God bless.

Yes, Virginia there is a Hell

Like many others, I’ve been having a hard time lately dealing with human behavior.

We seem to have developed excuses for everything we once agreed was unacceptable – things like murder, rape, theft, infidelity, character assassination, child abuse, etc. – and decided to live in a world where everyone can do whatever they want. We have even decided that its ok do things that are completely stupid and degrading because “we should be able to do anything we want to without the fear of (fill in the blank.)”

A few weeks ago at my Church’s annual carnival, I picked up a priceless copy of some essays by the Archbishop Fulton Sheen at the white elephant sale for a mere twenty-five cents. Its an old musty paperback from the late 60s, but its topics and messages are as contemporary as any bestseller on Amazon today. In particular, as they relate to human relationships.

One essay in particular has captured my imagination. Strangely enough, its about the existence of hell. Sheen assures us in the piece that, yes, indeed there is a hell. After all, doesn’t there have to be in order for there to be a heaven? Anyway, what’s really compelling to me is how Sheen describes hell. He doesn’t talk fire and roasting pits and blast furnace temperatures. No horns, pitchforks and spikey tails. Sheen describes hell as the absence of love.

At the same time I was reading Sheen, cops were being shot in the street, Jihadis were attacking France and Germany, Iran and North Korea were developing nuclear weapons, Christians were under siege in the Middle East, anti-Semitism was making a comeback, and every American was arguing with another over what could possibly be the two worst Presidential candidates in history. I was also lamenting my own personal loneliness, feeling out of touch with friends and family, and reeling somewhat from the unexpected resignation of our Church pastor.

I suppose the world was making me feel rather unloved. But I knew God was there with me, as I often imagine Him, standing behind me with His strong hand on my shoulder, gently reminding me that He’s given me the strength to push ahead. And then I thought of Sheen’s words – Hell is eternity without love.

There was a time, quite recently, when I could not see or feel God’s love in my life if I could not feel the love of other people. Both kinds of love – that of others and of God – were both there, but though the imbalances of depression, I was unable to know either. Quite clearly, it was the worst time of my life. Real or not, I felt the absence of love. Sheen’s description of hell.

Putting all of that together, the idea of hell came alive for me. I cannot imagine for a moment, let alone an eternity, living that way again. I remembered how I often felt I had fallen into a deep hole, the people I love happily living life above me, without me, within earshot. I had no hope that God or anyone else would throw me a line and pull me out. I wanted to die, but thought perhaps I already had.

Sheen’s words made me think harder. I thought of all the people diagnosed with depression or a mental health malady. I thought of the people I couldn’t save from suicide with my own love. Then, of those around the world who certainly live lives of greater despair than I will ever. I thought of those hungry, thirsty, homeless, poverty-stricken, put-down, disrespected, and forgotten. I thought of those who are Godless.

More and more everyday, our world seems to have less love in it. Perhaps its because we truly do not extend love to one another. Or perhaps, we’ve become so accustomed to pain that we cannot recognize love when it is there, often because of our clumsy ways of expressing it. Maybe we’re even beyond that. Maybe we’re so pessimistic about the good in our world that we make it a point, consciously or unconsciously, to look for hate. Maybe we expect it to be there because we’ve been hurt, and when we find reality is more complicated than our own experience, we feel the need to invent it.

Sheen described hell in his essay – but he never did say exactly where it is. If we don’t come to our senses, it indeed may be right here with us. On Earth. If it isn’t already.

 

 

 

 

Make It Harder to Rape

I’m never going to understand modern feminism.

A few days ago, Catholic blogger Matt Walsh lamented via Twitterr that he found it sad that it was politically incorrect to warn young women off about the potential consequences of hook up culture. I publically agreed, saying I was sad women didn’t have more common sense.

We were of course talking about the infamous Brock Turner case. He’s the ex-Stanford swimming star who dragged a young women behind a dumpster after she blacked out at a frat party and raped her. Remember, his dad wrote that sickening letter asking the judge for lenience and actually got it?

Before I share , I want to say this : I think rape is more reprehensible than murder. I don’t know why men keep doing it (since ancient times), and I don’t know why we aren’t throwing the book at these jerks (Mr. Turner got a whole six months out of a possible 17 years). I do not feel victims are to blame in any case. I’ve known some and I know their plight. But I also know some women lie about rape (Rolling Stone, anyone?), damaging real victims credibility and hurting innocent men. I teach my daughters to protect their bodies as much as they can.

I have never had a response on Twitter like I have had to that comment. In fact it’s still going. More than 48 hours later. I see where it could have been misconstrued, but I was sure to explain myself. Ad nauseum. I’ve stopped that now. I’m belaboring the point, and it seems there is no end to the number of people who, without reading the conversation in its entirety, want to tell me I’m wrong.

Numerous young ladies want me to know they SHOULD be able to walk down the street naked and not fear rape. I don’t disagree with them. But unfortunately, reality does.

There seems to be no shortage of men who are capable of rape and assault. They won’t be stopping anytime soon. As a strong woman, I feel my best defense is to avoid situations where rape is likely to occur. If I’m in a situation of that sort, preparedness is prudent. Any women can still find herself in too deep, we are human. But if I can lessen my chances of becoming a victim, I’m going to do it. Wouldn’t you? It’s not about fear. It’s about odds.

Frat house rape is nothing new. I went to college and grad school. I lost a friend my freshman year to suicide. She’d gone home to regroup after being raped. We see major stories like the Stanford one in the news when college is in session every year. People study it. Law & Order recreated it on its various shows a million times. Every woman alive knows what a rape kit is.

Drinking too much elevates a woman’s risk of rape – for the very reasons we like it so much. It eases tension, blurs our decision making, makes us feel 10 feet tall and bulletproof. Unil it doesn’t. I’m not saying don’t have fun. Go out. Party. Be young. But also be smart and respect yourself. No, that does not mean that every single rape victim that ever lived asked for it. No one asks for it, let alone the aftermath.

But why risk the horrific possibility by getting black out drunk? Is drinking to excess that important? Do you really want to make yourself sick? Pass out next to a toilet on a filthy bathroom floor? Have – hopefully – some annoyed friends carry you to your bed? Maybe check on you once or twice if your lucky? Go to a hospital to have your stomache pumped? Get alcohol poisoning? Wonder what happened when you come to?

If you need more than me to tell you drinking can lead to bad situations, how about God? Wine is enjoyed a great deal in the Bible. But Paul warns us, “do not drink wine to excess.” Sirach chapter 31 hits the nail on the head, “…wine drunk to excess is bitterness of soul, with provocation and stumbling. Drunkeness increases the anger of a fool to his injury, reducing his strength and adding wounds.”

Men who want to rape will. What’s wrong with loving other women enough to warn them that even though men should stop, and be taught to respect dignity, reality hits a little harder? Rape will never be the victims fault – woman, man or child. But smart, strong women will avoid behaviors and situations that elevate risk simply because they SHOULD be able to do anything men do.

Ladies : Protect yourself. Protect your friends, sisters, mothers, aunts, cousins and nieces. Looking back on my younger days, I think I may have had many near misses. I was lucky. I’m more conservative now that I have more to lose. Life, it turns out, has much more to offer than a party and a good buzz.

Including the love of a decent honest man. We should all think about what could lie ahead before throwing caution to the wind for a good time.

Let’s pray that Brock Turner’s victim can rediscover the peace he took from her that awful night, and support all women, men and children who have experienced the horror of rape. We honor them by respecting ourselves.

Sorry, not sorry.

I heard some good news today about an old friend who had hurt me a great deal a few years ago. It soured my day.

But it made me realize, yet again, how fragile forgiveness can be,  and just how difficult it can be to live as Jesus did, and as the Father wants us to. Funny how we can assure ourselves we have forgiven in our minds, but when shocked or surprised somehow – like when you run into someone unexpectedly – the truth comes out. At least in your heart.

So, what to do? I guess I could sit around, walk around, whatever, feeling glum, excavating the pain and rehashing all the terrible things I think ruined my friendship. Isn’t that what we all do? Those of us who are willing to admit it, anyway. I know I do. But I don’t want to do that. I’m trying to live my life better, by what I’ve learned and by the path God is asking me to follow.

I tried something new instead. I said two prayers. One for me, and one for my old friend. Nothing elaborate. Just a quick nod to the Lord acknowledging that it’s hard to control our feelings, even when we can admit they are sometimes a little irrational. I asked him to help me let it go and find happiness in someone else’s success. And to remember the goodness of that relationship, not the bad ending. It was a long one. Most of it was special.

I also asked God to bless my friend and her family. I’m not sure if she ever understood the impact her actions had on my life. I prayed for her happiness, and that she always keep in mind that others are part of the decisions she makes, no matter how insignificant they may seem to her. The people or the decisions.

I find again that being a Catholic is indeed a great challenge, every day on every level. Forgiveness is not a one time thing, where you say your sorry, shake hands and everyone goes on merrily. It’s an ongoing choice to fight off the negativity and maintain your desire to make that “I’m sorry” stick. 

We certainly don’t make it easy for one another. Here’s to trying harder to forgive and to forget.

Pop Quiz

Jay Leno often did a schtick on the Tonight Show where he would have someone go out into the streets, read something from the U.S. Constitution or Bill of Rights, and tell people the government was thinking of implementing whatever it was. Most of the subjects would be outraged, or amazed, often remarking the excerpt was way too extreme.

I’ve seen more recent similar videos where interviewers have asked college students questions like “Which side won the Civil War?,” “Who is the Vice President?,” etc. with equally awful results.

I can’t help but wonder what kind of answers one would get if challenging Catholics with a similar pop quiz on the Bible and Catholic Catechism. My guess is that responses would be nearly if not more atrocious.

I’m not saying that to be insulting. In recent years, I’ve come to see that there is a great deal I do not know about Catholicism and what I’m supposed to believe or not believe. This is particularly distressing to me having attended Catholic school from first grade through graduate school, received instruction for five of the Seven Sacraments, trained as a Eucharistic Minister, written for a Catholic newspaper, read various books on Catholicism, attended numerous retreats and so on and so forth.

There always seems to be more to learn. Considering the many resources I’ve had over the course of my life, I wonder what Catholics who have not attended Catholic elementary, intermediate, secondary, college and graduate school do to learn about “being Catholic.” Although I must admit, I have a number of friends who are converts, who, much like naturalized Americans do about the U.S., know more about the history and rules than most lifelong Catholics I know.

While those believers out there who want to show us all how much they know about God and Catholicism would probably disagree, I don’t think it should surprise anyone that many, if not most, Catholics have more to learn about their faith. Unlike our Protestant friends, Catholics are less known to be big Bible readers. And if you’ve ever seen a print version of the Catholic Catechism, you might feel more comfortable picking up a copy of War & Peace.

The Bible, as one of my high school religion teachers liked to remind us, is far from boring reading. He loved picking out more risqué passages and asking an unsuspecting student to read them allowed. He particularly liked the story of Lot and his daughters after fleeing Sodom and Gomorrah. Also, David and Bathsheeba. Or Sampson and Delilah. You get the point. I’ve been reading my copy more these days. It comes in handy when people tell you “that’s not in the Bible.” Often, it is.

In recent years, when I lost two very special people to suicide, and was teetering on the brink of depression myself, I turned to the Catechism for clarity. I was comforted to know the Church recognizes mental health issues can indeed lead us to a type of distress that can only be quieted in death. I was under the impression that suicide was always mortal sin. Some may be surprised that in regard to homosexuals, the Catchism clearly states “Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”

We Catholics who are not theological or moral specialists might also want to consider reading and studying other Catjolic documents of importance – Humana Vite, anyone? How about Amoris Latetia? Do we know what the Church really says about infallibility? I used to think if the Pope said it, God said it. It’s much more complicated than that.

Catholicism is a living, breathing faith. Just like our relationships with people, we must attend to our relationship with God. What we hear and learn at Mass simply isn’t enough in a day and age when there is such challenge to our tradition and freedom to practice it. I forget this a lot. My children are learning more about Catholicism at Catholic school today than I believe I did as an elementary school student. They challenge me to know more and be more devout. And know the answers to their Catholic questions.

I challenge you, my fellow Catholics, to refresh your knowledge of our faith. It’s one thing to know the rules – yet we should know where our rules come from. We should recognize both the good and bad of our history, and realize that the humanity of Church leaders can lead them to sin just like the rest of us. We must know what conventional wisdom about Catholicism is correct, and what has been exaggerated to discredit our beliefs and values, should we be called on to defend God.

Catholicism is good and can be shared in love and with respect among lapsed and non- believers. Study up for those more and more frequent pop quizzes. Evangelize, don’t hide.