I’m not a fan of the term Cafeteria Catholic, but that’s who I am. There are a lot of us, too! If you’re not familiar with the term, we’re Catholics who take what they like in the Catholic doctrine and leave the stuff they can’t stomach for someone else’s plate.
For me, my belief in God, a higher power, something that is bigger than me is the foundation for all things – my Mexican culture, my marriage, how I raise my kids and how I treat others. My religion is who I am in my soul.
When we had the opportunity to send our kids to Catholic school, I did question it – a lot. We live in one of the best school districts in the country, why waste our money? This should be an easy decision for me, especially since I attended Catholic grade school and high school, right? Wrong. This decision was extremely important to my husband, who also attended Catholic school. So, I did what I knew best. I prayed about it.
My religion and my belief in the power of prayer has gotten me through extremely sad times and helped me be thankful for the over-abundance of joy and happy times in my life. Prayer was my only answer.
I asked God a lot of questions in those prayers. How can I send my kids to Catholic school when my views on birth control, women’s rights and gay marriage are not in line with what my religion says it should be? I’ve wrestled with these questions for years, and now I had to face them head–on. If my kids attend Catholic school, their instructors will teach them what their religion preaches is right and not what their outspoken, feminist mom thinks is right.
I don’t expect my children to agree with my views, but we discuss them a lot. I would be a hypocrite if I told my kids to wait until after marriage to have sex with their partners. I want them to be prepared and know they can protect their health and that of their partners. My boys know I’m pro-choice, because I believe what a woman does to her body is a private and intimate choice that is no one else’s business. They also know I see marriage as love and not gender. Not that long ago, my marriage would have been considered illegal – a white man marrying a Mexican woman would have been unheard of. I want my boys to live in a world where their uncle can marry the man of his dreams. They deserve that opportunity.
Sending my kids to Catholic school is one of the best decisions we’ve made as a family. Watching my children learn about Catholisicm and their love of God and a higher power is teaching me to fall in love with the Catholic faith all over again, even if we don’t agree with all of the church’s teachings. It’s also one of the best decisions I’ve made for myself. It’s helped me deepen my faith and feel secure in my Cafeteria Catholicism. I’m not a lesser Catholic because I don’t go to church every week. I’m not a lesser Catholic because I’m pro-choice. I’m not a lesser Catholic because I believe in marriage equality. I’m not a lesser Catholic because I believe in birth control.
It also allows my boys to try the Catholic doctrine bite by bite. If they try it all and decide they like everything, I’ll prepare a table in my home to hold all of it. And if one or both decide to leave some things on the spiritual buffet, I won’t try to shove anything down their throats.