I never had to "leave" a lifestyle, but I certainly paid for being a good Catholic. I don't want to make it sound worse than it is-- I'm very happy being Catholic. But when you are Catholic, you find that you cannot take part in much of the culture.
And I think that's part of why people aren't Catholic or Christian. They don't want the bother of being excluded.
So, for instance, if you're really serious about your faith, you're careful about what movies you watch.
But if you miss out on the latest blockbuster, and all your friends are movie aficionados, you just excluded yourself from that anticipated conversation.
Multiply that by a thousand. For movies, tv shows, music-- any cultural artefact, really. You exclude yourself from all kinds of events, experiences, and conversations that you would have had if you had been secular.
And in this way, you start losing networks. Maybe people don't exactly hate you, or break up with you. But you drift away. What do you have in common with them?
When I was in my twenties, I felt it tough to be Catholic because I'm, at heart, a cultural person, and I felt very denuded. What culture does a conservative Catholic have? Not a heck of a lot, especially if one grows up in Quebec.
And this doesn't even begin to touch on sexual issues, which compile the problem even more.
And it explains a lot of this:
I thought I could only ask God for help. I prayed for “Catholic friends.” This brought no change, so I scaled down and said, “All right then, just one. Just one Catholic friend.” In the end, I simply got up and left one day. I’ve written elsewhere that I just got in a car and went “on holiday” out east, and never returned. When I landed in the far-eastern Canadian town where I was to undertake my own radical conversion, I only stopped there because I had run out of continent.
And it was there I discovered a whole new world, a moral universe of whose existence I had been previously totally ignorant. I met my “Catholic friends,” and was able to start the painful task of first deconstructing and then rebuilding my entire worldview, my character, my beliefs, my total understanding of life, the universe, and everything.
I never had it quite that bad. But there are a heck of a lot of people who would if they accepted to be Catholic.
One thing that strikes me about our faith is that it's become a highly intellectual affair, a "document religion", in which a lot our time is spent reading, and thinking.
There's nothing wrong with reading and thinking. I do it all the time.
But I don't think Christ had in mind that the bulk of his faithful practice faith in their heads all the time. I think we were meant to practice our faith around people. And I find we don't. We go to Mass on Sundays, and we never see our fellow co-parishoners again until next week. We retreat back home, and probably don't talk to any of our fellow Catholics all week. I have lived in several parishes in my life, and I think that's pretty much the drill. We're a Church, but we don't know 98% + of our fellow parishioners from Adam. And then we expect people who come back to Christ, who've never had any kind of training in how to be Catholic to just do it on our own because frankly, that's how most of us do it.
I don't think it was meant to be that way. And I think Pope Francis is trying to bring us out that mindset. We're supposed to talk to people and relate to them. Not just think, pray and write and keep to ourselves.
I see in this isolationism one reason why we have such a poor performance in regards to evangelism. It's not just the lack of orthodoxy-- although there is that. It's that there's no real community to build people up when they do want to join. There's no friendship to replace those friends we're losing.
I'm not really sure what the answer is. Normally, people who do the suggesting are supposed to be the ones who implement their own suggestions. Being a mother of four, that's not gonna happen. I think this might be something more for those in the single life to consider.