Can’t say when I’m hungry I eat in a cafeteria, but I can say when I go to church I am full-on smorgasbord. I go through the line and I pick and choose. I am a Cafeteria Catholic.
The implication is that a Cafeteria Catholic such as I simply picks aspects of Catholic doctrine which appeal the most, rather than taking the whole package. This nutty term is applied to Catholics who dissent from Roman Catholic doctrinal or moral teaching. Examples include Catholics who dissent from Church teaching in regards to abortion, birth control, divorce, premarital sex, masturbation, or the moral status of homosexual actions. Yep, full guilt.
I like God. And religions. And spiritual stuff. Walking home to my car at three in the morning in San Francisco years ago and hearing a lone saxophonist playing “Amazing Grace” in an alley somewhere was one of the most spiritual moments in my life.
But I want to pick my spiritual moments. And my beliefs. I want to claim my beliefs and want to reject the rest. I am not a fan of the politics, I abhor the cover-up of the priests and their misdoings, but I love the stained glass and the audience participation motif. Sit. Stand, Kneel. I always look forward to the next position. I dig the smell of incense wafting past the statures. But I also have no issue with people making their own life choices. They can believe what they want. I’m café all the way.
Media now addresses the phenomenon I am referring to as trendy. A trend has been bubbling up around the Catholic blogosphere because of that presidential candidate, Paul Ryan. He is what we’d call a “Cafeteria Catholic.” Instead of following church teachings, he put what he wants on his tray. Typically, an American Cafeteria Catholic adheres to everything but the birth control/abortion/homosexuality teachings, but Ryan’s an unusual case: He only wants to cut loose the poor and the needy.
Author Anne Rice says she is ‘committed to Christ … but not to Christianity’. An atheist for decades, Rice returned to her childhood faith of Catholicism in 1998. In a message posted on her Facebook page, Rice said she had changed her mind again.
“In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.” the author wrote.
Full meal deal Catholics would probably tell us that we are just struggling to understand. We understand plenty. We want to come to the party, but we just don’t want a helping from every bowl.
I love prayer candles with the pictures of saints on them. I like to read the prayer on the back, light the candle, and know good things will happen. I am a believer. I make no bones about it. Be my friend or not. But please be my friend because I will laugh at all your jokes, I can chug more soda than anything one know, and I have been known to clean out a cat box with my bare hand. That’s so whack my first name should be Knick Knack Patti!
It took me a really long time to start talking to people about my beliefs. It scared me to be so open and honest about something that a lot of people in our society think is old fashioned, backwards and, sometimes, makes you a terrible person. My heart is full of love and kindness. And I give a shout out to Saint Boniface if I need a parking space.
Just last weekend, my cousin experienced the amazing benefits of saint intercession while she was circling a crowded parking lot in front of a restaurant. Vainly searching for a spot, she turned to Mother Cabrini in her hour of need, using an easy prayer that I had shared with her many years ago.
“Mother Cabrini, Mother Cabrini, please find a spot for my little machiney.”
Ever find yourself with something unfound? Try this one:
“St. Anthony, St. Anthony, please come around. Something is lost but cannot be found.”
After Jesus and Mary, St. Anthony is the busiest person in heaven. In the early 1980s, for example, he spent the bulk of his time looking for my homework and matching pairs of leg warmers.
I have a dear friend who likes my idea of being a Cafeteria Catholic. She finds it workable since she was once Catholic and now is a nothing. She wants to be a something. This helps her feels she has a group. But I told her to start small. Maybe read only gender neutral versions of Scripture that are available for the iPhone. When she feels a bit more resolve she can then drink coffee made with beans grown by monks, sold by orphans, and but brewed by believers.