I've been meaning to link to this post for a few days now. What Carolina Cannonball says here makes an awful lot of sense to me, and reminds me not to get too "up myself".
I suppose it all started with my post about my dilemma. There are times when I'm disappointed with the Mass in my own parish. They have this awful "Yoof Mass" once a month, where the choice of songs (I can't call them hymns) is truly dreadful. Some of the children are badly behaved. I hated the Palm Sunday Mass.
But here's the thing. I live in a community. If there's something I don't like, I can vote with my feet - the thing I don't like will carry on happening, but I won't be seeing it. I can shut my eyes and put my fingers in my ears and pretend everything's fine.
Or maybe I could stay in my own parish community and give something back to it. When I didn't like the music in my old parish, I joined the music group and ended up selecting the music myself. If anyone complained that they didn't like my choices, I told them they were very welcome to help me. If they didn't want to help, and didn't have constructive suggestions of their own, I wasn't prepared to listen to their complaints.
If I'm not prepared to join the choir in my new parish, I have no right to complain about what they're singing or the way they're singing it. They demonstrate a commitment that I'm currently not prepared to make. It's very easy to criticise, but Mass in my parish is generally celebrated reverently, the choir practise hard and often sing beautifully, and who am I to sit at the back and grumble because they're singing hymns I don't know?
I'm going to have another rant in a minute about behaviour in church, so I'll leave that for now. But the big thing I want to say is Who am I to judge? Who am I to criticise my parish priest, or anyone else in the parish?
I started writing a blog at the beginning of Lent for my own spiritual development. Sure, I chuck in a few things that I've found funny - I love telling jokes. And I don't keep a diary, so bits of my personal life get chucked in for good measure. But I wanted to focus my mind on my faith and on what it meant to me, and writing things down has helped me to do that.
Unfortunately for me, I discovered (thanks, Mac!) Sitemeter. I found that other people were reading my blog, and I started trying to write things that I thought they would like to read. I wasn't always true to myself, and I started to get a bit arrogant. I also started to censor my own thoughts, in case readers were put off by what I really thought.
I have to say here that I have also found a number of the comments I have received very helpful. Partly because of the comments (particularly from Simon-Peter), I have been more rigorous in reading round certain subjects before posting on them, and have learnt a lot in the process. For that I'm very grateful, and I hope people will continue to give me helpful comments and to start a discussion when they disagree with me. But some people may find that in future, they disagree with me a bit more.
As the Cannonball said, I love the Church and I'm grateful that I'm a Catholic. But I worry that some Catholics interpret their faith in a way that is frankly more narrow-minded and judgemental than I'm comfortable with. In the last few days, I've been quite upset at the level of hatred displayed in some of the blogs I've read.
Jesus' message was one of love, and I don't want that to get lost among discussions about whether one person is a better Catholic than another because they attend a four-hour-long Latin Mass and criticise all developments in the Church since Vatican II.