When the first Tweet you read in the morning is a Catholic bishop declaring that "Biden is not a real Catholic"
Forgive me, father, for I have drifted.
It has been almost a year since my last Mass.
In these many, many Covid months, I have kept close to home. I have read and prayed on my own. I have listened to the online journal of a friend, who is a priest -- a wise, thoughtful and compassionate one who has been dear to me for 30 years.
I confess that I have not listened to an entire virtual Mass. Last week I caught a few minutes of the one broadcast by my son’s parish. The readings, the sung responses and the prayers filled me with a longing that surprised me. I do miss the community of Mass, the feeling that I am not in this alone. Still, I felt that distance in me that makes a virtual Mass less than virtuous.
And then a friend sent me the following article from the National Catholic Reporter, a thoughtful attempt to explain the psychology behind the fact that the Catholic vote was almost an even split in 2020’s presidential election. Reading this piece reminded me that, if I am truthful (and confessions should always be truthful), the distance that I have been wrestling with these many months began before Covid-19 devoured normal life. I felt out of place at Mass before and since Trump’s election in 2016. I remember sitting in the pew, wondering who in the congregation had voted for him. Back then, it was about 52 percent of Catholics. And this year, the vote was almost evenly divided between Biden and Trump.
In theory, Catholics believe in the sanctity of life -- not just for the newborn, but for all the clay containers, made in the image of God, who hold it. We believe that racism, sexism, classism, any -ism in conflict with Saint Paul’s teaching in Galatians 3 that "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" is a sin. On the other hand, we do not believe that poverty is a sin, but enabling and tolerating it is. We try not to judge, but work for justice. Yet half of us chose a leader whose commitment to these ideas is self-serving fiction.
I understand that I am teetering on the brink of judgment here -- perhaps sliding into it altogether. But this is a confession, after all.
So, father, I confess to judging others, harboring anger, and condemning them for their beliefs. But what, I ask, is faith if it is not testing one’s “beliefs” against the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. And when we discover a conflict, shouldn’t we be the ones who own it, confess it and change our behavior accordingly?
Please, God, let me be guilty of that.