Marrs Attacks: Oh the guilt

When I eat, I feel guilty for not eating better. When I exercise, I feel guilty because I’m not reading. When I read, I feel guilty because I should be writing. When I write, I feel guilty for not writing more. When I love, I feel guilty for not loving the men who came before my lover.

The list continues. I am Catholic. Try as I might, this is one stereotype I can’t avoid fitting: I am Catholic and I like to feel guilty. I even feel guilty for enjoying to feel guilty because I know it’s bad for me! The circle has no end.

My Catholic high school sent me an update recently saying the Carmelite priests who’ve been the backbone of the school since its founding in 1980 are suddenly pulling out. Their numbers are running so low that their home office in New York decided to nix my alma mater as a school they can afford to staff. So the school, which will remain Catholic and is in no danger of closing, has to come up with a Plan B.

This has little to do with money. This has to do with a lack of men who want to be priests. The one relief I felt when reading this was in not having to feel guilty for not sending a check. Instead I felt guilty for never wanting to be a priest. Anyway …

This newsletter got me thinking about how I should honor my high school memories, and if I should support the school today. I really had a great time there. I did theater and student council; I made wonderful friends; I was even elected prom king. (I’m still waiting for the bucket of pigs’ blood to fall, but after eleven years my suspicion has cooled a little.) My teachers were truly awesome, and I wouldn’t mind striking up an Internet friendship with some of them today. Getting the intermittent alumni newsletter is always a joy for me, and it lets me feel guilty for having grown apart from most of my old classmates. Hence I love it.

The struggle I have is whether I should support the school now that I’m an out and proud, card-carrying homosexual. It’s a great place that does a million things I agree with, and in a way I think it’s petty to hold just one issue against them. I’m sure, if I knew them today, I would find many staff and faculty members who support homosexual relationships and do not condemn others for engaging in them. Still, it’s kind of an enormous issue, one we can’t overlook so easily. Living a gay life is not the same caliber sin as trying to cheat at Sunday Bingo. Kids will not be told at my high school that it’s okay for them to grow up and have a same-sex partner, or at least they won’t be told that on the record.

Catholics are taught to love, and that God loves everyone, and—best challenge of all—that we should love our enemies, but the Church still says I cannot be with my boyfriend. It still doesn’t want me to pursue the same life with him any of my male classmates would be celebrated for pursuing with a girl. That gets me.

I’m not in a position to give much money to any organization right now anyway, so for me this dilemma is largely hypothetical. They may be losing $50 a year because I’m “too theologically confused to donate,” but I doubt they’re missing it much. So what if they go with a secondhand prom crown. Still, other people in my spot have fatter wallets. My wallet itself will be fatter one day. Maybe not fat enough to pay for all my sins, but maybe enough to get the one I can’t cover comp’d.

And by that I mean the sin of pursuing a gay relationship, and of continuing to do so no matter what I’m told or whom it flies with. The Church still says that’s a sin. I can ignore it and smile and think of all the many unrelated things I love about my high school instead, but it doesn’t change the doctrine. It only adds to the guilt list.

I need to go eat something.

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