I know the right path to take.
Every morning, on my knees, I ask God to give me the necessary strength (grace) to walk the path I freely choose. It is a path of Faith - Faith in Him, in the Church He founded and in the Natural Order of things He created.
I am schooled in Scripture, reading it with the eyes of Faith and the understandings that come with that mindset. I am schooled in the Catechism, looking with astonishment at the incredible doctrine developed over 15 to 20 thousand years of philosophical applications. It humbles me.
Recently someone asked me how I could believe that a loving God would strike children down with fire for exploring their own bodies. The question was asked several times, leading me to understand that this was a very important issue for this person. Essentially, the question was why does the Catholic Church teach that masturbation is a sin. At least I think that was the question. I have no memory of EVER being told I would be struck down with fire for committing ANY sin - and I am quite serious. I was educated for 12 years in Catholic Schools. I was educated by priests, nuns, sisters and brothers and lay people who were very loyal to the magisterium. I was never told God was out to get me, would strike me down, would hit me with fire bombs or other wise hurt me.
I was taught, however, that there is a certain dignity inherent in being a human. This dignity, as outlined in the CCC, requires me to treat myself and my surroundings in a very special manner. I should not abuse myself sexually - that is, treat myself as though that was my only worth. I was not taught (ever) that sex was bad, in and of itself. I was taught, however, that sexual activity outside of the Sacrament of Marriage was a breech of my own dignity. I did not believe that for a long time. In fact, I did not behave in a dignified manner for a long, long time. It took being debased and shamed, treated like scum by people who had urged me to 'be free - be yourself' for me to realize why the Church teaches what She does - that sexual love is beautiful, dignified, fabulous, fun and meant to be within the bonds of a Sacrament.
I never expect anyone to agree with me. My decision to live as a Catholic comes from my experience in the world. I have not found any reason to change that decision. Priest scandals, idiots in the parish front office (of which there are a few - sometimes, I am one of them) or the politicians who claim to share my Faith and then act like total buttheads in their dealings with their families or friends or constituents has not shaken my Faith. Reading Holy Scripture and seeing how many times the ancient writers called on God to kill their enemies or that St Paul thought women should not speak in Church does not poke any holes in my foundation. First of all, I am not a Sola Scriptura Heretic. Secondly, I understand the difference in Holy Scripture between historic, hyperbole, parable and typology.
I won't engage in fights or debates with people about being a Catholic. I am very ready to die in the defense of The Eucharist and Holy Mother Church. I do not expect anyone else to be ready to do that and it is just find with me if I end up being the winner of the game show Last Catholic Standing.
What I will state though, and I am quite serious about this, is that any person who loses their Faith in God because a) God didn't make them happy b) The Church teaches something they don't Like or b) there are BAD people in the Church did not have a Faith to lose.
What they had was an expectation - and when that expectation went unfulfilled they lost the ability to surrender and accept.
I am grateful that I learned the difference and I am grateful to be a Catholic Out Loud.