Theresa Thomas
Everyday Catholic
August 30, 2018 // Perspective

When it is not easy

Theresa Thomas
Everyday Catholic

I graduated from college back in 1985. Reagan was president, and the economy was doing great. I had several job offers, which would tide me over for a couple years. But my real plan and heart’s desire was to simply bide time earning money until David finished law school. Then we would get married and settle down, and I’d get to my life’s work and a career I was really passionate about: being a full-time wife, homemaker and mother.

I envisioned busy days with my offspring, a simple life. Working around the house. Cooking. Making my husband happy. Welcoming bundle after bundle of baby joy into my arms and raising them. The summer before we got married, David and I bought a teeny little starter home, built just post-World War II, in a working-class neighborhood just south of the river. We tore down ’40s wallpaper and David painted. We pulled gold-textured carpet from the floors and made them new again. After our jobs during the day we would meet at the house to work. David would get the weeds pulled and the yard mowed and trimmed. I would clean, clean, clean inside, old closets, kitchen cupboards. Previous owners had been smokers so we had to get the place bleached, top to bottom. Murphy’s Oil Soap. Lemon Pledge. Man, the place smelled great. Then, we’d separate for the night, each going back to our parents’ homes, looking forward to the day we would be married and move in together.

David and I couldn’t afford much, so we bought second-hand furniture from estate sales. I made the kitchen curtains by hand because I didn’t know how to sew with a machine. I wanted, yearned for, and had a simple life. I didn’t have dreams of the big city or a big career. I just wanted things calm and comfortable. And for a while, they were.

David and I married the September after he became an official Indiana attorney. We took a brief honeymoon to the East Coast: Hawaii was the first choice, but the price tag was out of our league. Then we settled into our little domicile. We went to church on Sundays. I started going to a Bible group.

Everything was as planned, until I had a miscarriage.

The thought of not being able to have children never had entered my mind, until I found myself in the hospital emergency room losing our first child on Christmas Day of 1986. I had come from a large family and I figured many children was just a given of fruitful married life. For the first time, I had to face that maybe my life wasn’t just made-to-order. I think it was then, at the tender age of 23, that I realized life can be hard.

I’m jumping ahead decades, but eventually we had nine healthy children. I still never desired anything other than a simple life with a simple faith. Celebrations of the sacraments were a big deal. We homeschooled until high school. I loved taking the children to extra Mass on Fridays and listen to a great priest talk about catechism and living the faith. The kids grew up and started moving out. They went to Catholic colleges and started setting up places of their own.

Flash forward: Who would have thought a bomb like the last weeks’ news of abuses in the Church would have shattered the comfort my Catholic faith has afforded me since I was a little girl? I just wanted a simple life with an easy faith, raising my little (OK, not-so-little) family.

But our faith is not a faith of easiness. We are called to be ready to martyrdom. Physical or spiritual. Fast, or slow.

The events of the past week have been difficult to hear. They do not fit into my nicely planned out, simple, easy Catholic life. But they have to be dealt with, and here I shall.

What I can offer is the driving advice we all give our kids: Keep your eyes on the road. Don’t watch the pedestrians. Don’t check out the other cars. Hands on 10 and 2. You know where you’re going. You have the directions. Just keep moving toward that goal. Don’t take the detour on the road. Trust your instincts. Our Catholic faith is Truth. The doctrines come directly from Christ. The people in the institution are good and bad of varying degrees. They do not dilute the Truth of the faith.

Let me repeat. They do not dilute the truth of the tenets of our faith.

I am horrified at the allegations revealed in the official documents of last week. However, they are a failure and tragedy of individual people, not of a doctrine of faith.

Our faith is simple. We must live the Ten Commandments. Follow the precepts of the Church. Frequent the sacraments. Pray the rosary. Work on our own personal virtues.

Religions are full of fallible individuals, all in need of saving. Sometimes very evil permeates, and this must be eradicated. However, those people are not the religion itself. Don’t discard the baby with the bath water. Cling to the Truth, the beauty, the goodness that is God in the faith of our fathers. And don’t be distracted by what the world does or doesn’t do.

We are walking through coals.

But if we are walking with God, that is enough, and we and our families will emerge well.

We cannot have an easy faith. Our lives are not meant to be comfortable.

Turn over the rocks. Eradicate the evil.

But cling to the tenets of the faith itself. The one, holy catholic and apostolic church will prevail. Have faith and do not be afraid.

Life is not easy. It may not be what we planned. I imagined a simple and easy married life. Then reality hit. We may have thought our Catholic faith would be smooth sailing and now it is not. Stay strong. Stay the course. Choose Christ again and again. His Church has never been more true. Clean house, and let us make the Bride of Christ beautiful again.

Courage. Faith. Press on.

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