One of the reasons I was drawn to Dominican spirituality is the love for Truth, or love for The Divine. This love for The Divine drives me to look for ways I can collaborate with my Creator in all my endeavors - within The Church and out in the world.
Not always easy. The world has never been receptive to the Love offered it through religion. It is a common and erroneous belief that 'religion' is what causes problems in the world. That is faulty thinking, a logic that would not be applied to, say, formal education and the institutions of learning.
Think about it. Despite the rise in the number of teachers being arrested for abusing children OR the poor test scores in a school, few people state that the idea of public education should be completely abolished. Some do, but the majority of people realize that there is a public good that arises from having a citizenry educated in the basics - a citizenry that can read, write and do simple math problems. Not everyone has to be a scholar, but everyone should be able to write their name and address down on a job application. When someone can't, we see that as a failure of society. We know that having an educated populace is actually good for the whole.
The same goes for religion. While atheists may decry religion as the reason for all the problems in the world (ignoring that the worst slaughters of mankind have taken place under atheistic governments or pagan philosophies), most people are smart enough to figure out that it is usually not the religion that is the problem; rather, it is human beings' lack of ability to live the life the religion requires that causes the problems.
Take me for instance. I am a Catholic. I am a Faithful Catholic. This means that I accept all the Teachings of Holy Mother Church, even the unpopular ones. I attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligations. I participate in Parish Life. I support The Church financially. I have a regular prayer life. I do what I can to be a Catholic Out Loud.
The last thing I am is a saint. I am prickly. I lose my temper and have a low tolerance for ignorance or bigotry. I really get driven nuts by faulty logic or people who have arguments by jumping from topic to topic to topic rather than sticking to one point, discussing and arguing it thoroughly and THEN moving on to the next topic.
I am overly sensitive. My feelings get hurt easily but I have a tendency to think other people need to 'get over it' when THEIR feelings are hurt. Not only is this unfair it is unrealistic and my unrealistic attitude has caused me lots of harm over the years.
I am introspective and become irritated with people who never EVER seem to think they are wrong. I have a tendency to simply remove them from my life completely or relegate them to the sidelines, because I cannot be bothered with the perennial victimhood of those who never seem to make a mistake and, so, can point your errors out to you in a heartbeat. They can tell you how you harmed them, but can never see where they have caused harm.
Now, the Catholic religion does not support this type of behavior or this type of attitude. I am supposed to love the unlovable, forgive rather than be forgiven and understand rather than seek to be understood. My failure to do this on a regular or consistent basis is not because the religion is wrong; rather, it is because I am a failed and lousy Catholic, even while being a Faithful one.
In order to properly collaborate with God and work in the world, I have to be able to recognize these failings. I need to acknowledge when I have been wrong and try to put out of my head the wrongs of others. Quite frankly that is damn difficult...I am not good at it.
So why do I keep trying?
Jesus Christ and His Church ask only that I keep getting up when I fall, that I look for the St Simon of Cyrene in my life and ask for help when I need it and I be willing to walk the Way of The Lord. He supplies me with the graces I need to do this impossible thing - be perfect, as my Heavenly Father is Perfect, one day at a time.
I keep trying because it is in the trying that I have found my home. The religion that I hold so dear helps me to function in the world with love, with grace and with dignity even when the world itself debases that love, refuses that grace and denies that dignity. I am who I am - and He loves me.
He loves you too.