Huh? Stuck in the middle of what, you may ask. Stuck in the middle of two groups that we love to pieces but do not feel like we belong in either. You see, I very much dislike "names" and "classifications" and "cliques" of subgroups that take away from the larger group to begin with, and end up hurting the main goal and vision of the larger group.
I am a Catholic, born and raised that way, although mostly Catholic by name since we went to Mass when convenience allowed. As a kid, I was very proud to share which faith I belonged to but never really had it in my heart. Sure we prayed every now and then, but I never had a consistent prayer life and dependance on God. My maternal grandparents took their five kids to church, and my mom did a beautiful job continuing this tradition on passing down the faith. She did her very best to bring her own crew of kids to church all on her own, while my dad work 50/60/70+ hours a week to support us, although he was not the church-goer and kept his religious views to himself since it was a "personal matter". They both planted the seeds of faith and watered them with a home of love and virtue. To this day, all four of us girls are very active in our faith communities and strive to put God, virtue and love first daily.
Looking around and seeing the active members in my church where I grew up, I saw a common denominator. Most of them had been on a renewal experience called Cursillo. I wanted "that" - their joy, their confidence, their love of God that shone so brightly. So I went as soon as I could! When I made my Cursillo at the young age of 21, I was able to take all the intellectual learning (that I stuffed away after my Confirmation) to heart. It helped bring it all to life and lit a fire of faith that has never been extinguished. I now felt and understood the deep love Our Lord had for me in a whole new way, but I also understood the responsibility part.
"From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required."
~Luke 12: 48I was now expected to live this faith, be obedient, share it and bring others to Christ, and continue on this journey daily to a Life in Christ through Piety, Study, and Action.
As we have grown in our faith, we have found that Cursillo isn't everything and *the* final answer. Cursillo grounded us well and was that starting point to learn and grow in our marriage and living faithful lives to the teachings of the church. We became active in our parish and another group, similar to Cursillo, called TEC (Teens Encounter Christ). We noticed a difference as God kept sending us baby after baby as many people in our these communities would share that "they were done" and would tease us with "don't you know what causes that?". We were confused and felt as if we didn't belong any more, even though we had been faithful to God and trusted Him with every part of our lives. We just "stood out" now in this group and were now "too Catholic" to many in this community, but many shared how they wish they had our faith when they were our age. It seems as many of them have become comfortable in their lives and "lukewarm" in their faith And now we were standing out as the odd ducks. Huh? What?!!
"If you love me, you will keep my commandments."
~John 14: 15
Thankfully with the consistent study of our faith, we felt called to homeschool our growing brood. We were introduced to those who hold a more traditional view of the Catholic faith. Many of these families are large in number, just like us. So we finally felt a new sense of belonging. Well, kind of..... As we came to know many of them, we saw and felt a negativity. They were "too good" for others and seemed all too often to look for the wrong and sin in the world around them. They knew their faith so well and lived it to a "T", but have built up walls around them so that those on the other side cannot approach them. Many lack that love, virtue and humility because they are so consumed in the Law. Sadly, they remind me of the Pharisees.
"If I speak in tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal."
~1 Corinthians 13: 1
Neil and I love both of these groups but our heart breaks in seeing these differences. Cursillo brought us to where we are today and we want to continue to the journey with these amazing people who struggle daily to live and find and love the truth, all at different steps along the way. We also love our more traditional friends who challenge us and understand how hard it is to live up to the teachings of the faith in a world that is so "go with the flow". But there is that gap of needing to keep going and needing to love and live virtue. We need to find that middle ground where Law and Love are both expected and lived. We need to be that bridge of Love without bending and breaking to the "winds of the world".
“As long as you live, you will be subject to change, whether you will it or not - now glad, now sorrowful; now pleased, now displeased; now devout, now undevout; now vigorous, now slothful; now gloomy, now merry. But a wise man who is well taught in spiritual labor stands unshaken in all such things, and little what he feels, or from what side the wind of instability blows.”
We have tried inviting and bringing some of our more traditional friends into the Cursillo and TEC communities because we need their example of *how* to live the faith. And we have shared our love with the faith and our example of obedience with our Cursillo/TEC communities and our parish family and encourage them that it can be done. Although we feel "stuck in the middle" of these groups whom we love so dearly, we will continue to be that bridge as we all walk towards our ultimate goal of heaven together.
"Fight the good fight of the faith, take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses."
~2 Timothy 6: 12
++Lord, please help us always keep our focus on You and find that balance between Law and Love.++