When I was in sixth grade, I remember someone asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up. And at this point in your childhood, you stop saying you’re going to be a race car driver or a fireman or something outrageous and begin thinking seriously about your career. Kids begin to understand what their parents do. They begin to understand what their friends’s parents do for a living. Lawyers emerge. Doctors blossom. And I said that I wanted to be the Pope.
I never aimed low. I wasn’t going to be happy as a local parish pastor. I wanted to be the Pope. Most likely, if you want to be the Pope, you shouldn’t be the Pope. But I was an altar service and Mass was incredibly important to me. I was coming up to my confirmation and was about to become an adult in the Church, which meant I decided if I wanted to go to Church and how I would grow up as a Catholic.
To put it lightly, this was not something that continued as I got older. I drifted from the Church for multiple reasons. But recently, thanks to a few of my friends, reacquainting myself with Father Larry when he was back in the United States and the fact that John likes to sleep in and I have nowhere to really go on Sunday mornings if he sleeps past nine, I have returned to the Church.
I go just about every Sunday and have rediscovered why I love it so much. But it is hard. I disagree with so many positions that the Church and its representatives have taken. I am incredibly happy with myself and how I live, but I doubt the Church would agree. So, when I was at the library last week to find a few books to read to try again to read a book a week, I saw Fearing the Stigmata by Matt Weber.
Mr. Weber works for CatholicTV and does short videos about being a young Catholic – young being 27. The book made me very intrigued by Mr. Weber’s videos. And I really enjoyed his book. He wrote about a lot of events and situations that reminded me of fears that I had growing up Catholic.
Weber seems like a guy I would really enjoy talking to about the Church and life. He has a great perspective on what the Church means and how he describes the universality of it. The stories that stuck out to me involved him going to a Portugeuse mass and realizing that it is still the same thing and that even though he understood nothing of it, it was still powerful and it still showed exactly why the universal Church is so amazing. I also enjoyed his stories of fear. The title of the book points to this, but the Church does make someone who truly wants to live a holy life fearful of so much. All of the mysteries and miracles are frightening. The altar is also a frightening place – you cannot cross it, you must bow in front of it, its reverence. But it is frightening, not like a horror movie, but in its glory. All that it represents makes you feel small and that is scary. Many of the stories that Mr. Weber tells relate to this fear of what the Church represents.
My only dilemma with the book is its subtitle: “Humorously Holy Stories of a Young Catholic’s Search for a Culturally Relevant Faith.” I don’t know if these stories really hit on the search for a culturally relevant faith. The only part of the book that touches on this, in my opinion, relates to how one’s Catholic-ness figures into one’s American-ness. Unfortunately, it is only a few pages. I wanted more of this and hope to find it in Mr. Weber’s videos.
But as a 30 year old who is trying to navigate his way through and back into the Catholic Church, I really enjoyed the stories and how Weber details what the Church and religion means to him.