A Bad Catholic’s Lenten Promise

I’m a Bad Catholic. There’s no way around it. I used to be a really good one! However, sometime during high school, I fell off the cliff called feminism and never quite managed to find my way back up the holy mountain. Actually, I’m pretty sure I’m falling further down into the abyss. I’m glad this is happening, for many reasons. One of those reasons: In falling off the cliff and questioning my entire religion, I’ve joined the ranks of the many Bad Catholics out there.

I call us as Bad Catholics and not “atheists” or “agnostics” or “dropouts” because, weirdly enough, we actually still think of ourselves as quite Catholic. Catholicism, to many people, isn’t just a religion — it’s a culture. Saying I’m not Catholic would feel like saying I’m not Irish (hint: I’m very Irish). Of course, many don’t feel this way — you can totally stop being Catholic and start being whatever else you want to be. But for us Bad Catholics, Catholicism is always there. We’re ‘bad’ because we disagree with core beliefs, and do things that make our parents say the rosary on repeat. But we’re Catholic because we still feel culturally bound to it, and even though we don’t like to admit it — we actually still like some parts.

We’re a fun group, us Bad Catholics. I love meeting other members. When you realize someone else is a Bad Catholic, there is an immediate solidarity. They’re the only people who can truly understand the amount of weird shit in your head. Last week, I found out my new roommate is a Bad Catholic. When we talked about it, she immediately smiled, gave me a high five, and said “We’re so fucked up!” That’s usually how it goes.

Some seasons are harder than others for Bad Catholics. Lent is probably the worst time for me. Fyi — Lent is the solemn reflection period leading up to the death and resurrection of Jesus (Good Friday and Easter). There’s usually a lot of fasting, sacrificing, and crippling guilt involved. I always try to give something up for Lent, but every year, I seem to find myself caught between thinking these sacrifices are irrelevant, and thinking they are essential to saving my guilty soul. It’s a rough emotional pendulum.

So, this year, instead of giving up swearing or trying to go to church more often, I’ve decided to make Lent my own. “Lent for a Bad Catholic,” if you will. Here’s how I think it’s gonna go: At least once a week, I’m going to post here on this blog about a different Bad Catholic subject. You know — “sex, drugs, rock n’ roll” meets “fear of eternal damnation.” I think it’s gonna be fun. And I think it’s gonna be more meaningful than any Lent I’ve had since the feminism cliff incident. So, Lent — bring it on. This Bad Catholic is ready for ya.

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