First of all I must warn anyone reading this that I am not a religious or theologian. The musings here are solely those of a lay Catholic trying to live by her faith in a difficult time. Some of what I have to say may be useful to others on a similar journey. Some may start a dialogue with others and help me gain insight to use in my spiritual journey.
I am writing this partly for myself, partly for my grandchildren and partly in the hope that it may be helpful to others.
We are in a challenging and yet exiting stage of our faith journey as Catholics. Many have fallen away, disillusioned by wrong doing by the clergy and other religious and the "Institution of the Church". Other because of what they perceive as the Church's old fashioned doctrine. Many look to our new Pope and the hope that he will be able to revitalize the Faith and the faithful.
What we lay Catholics seem to have forgotten is that the Church is not the institution of the church, nor the clergy and religious. The Church is the community living in Christ. Yes we must be outraged at the evils that have come to light. We must make sure that they are addressed and never repeated, but we must not use them as an excuse for our own lack of faith. I know that this seems easy to say, especially if you have been a victim of these evils. However, strength can be found in reading the Bible, the Old and New Testament. There are so many stories of betrayal by others and apparent abandonment by God, where those who put their faith in Him have been justified. If we read the Bible and meditate on the readings we can find strength to bolster our faith and keep us going.
Yes, I am excited by the prospect of where Pope Francis will lead us. But, I am also aware that I also have a responsibility as a Catholic to live my faith fully and embrace all that it entails. It is not easy. Nothing worth having comes cheap. We get what we pay for. If we want salvation we must be willing to pay the price.
For those who want the Church to throw our doctrine away I ask them to ask themselves if their reasoning is because the dictates of our doctrine are hard to follow in these distracted times and so we should water them down so that they will be easier to keep? If that is the case, that sounds like bargain basement religion to me.
For me what excites me about the direction the Church seems to be heading today is that the doctrine, Christ's teachings, are still sacrosanct, yet there is a new spirit of openness to others, a lack of condemnation and exclusion and more concentration on piety and charity and less on pomp and form.