Confessions of a Catholic Democrat

Confessions of a Catholic Democrat

Hear me out.
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I am a practicing Catholic and member of the Democratic Party.

Yes, I totally recognize this probably comes off as a complete contradiction. Nothing about being a Democrat and a Catholic seems to go together on the surface. The Democratic agenda supports things like abortion and a woman's right to choose, the death penalty, LGBT rights, and many other issues that the Catholic Church is very much against. These, of course, are only a few of the many issues that the American Democratic Party and Catholic Church express opinions, but they are very relevant and important examples that illustrate the discord between many Christian churches and progressive America today.

America seems to be becoming more and more progressive on the whole as recent years pass. Just over a year ago, gay marriage become legal. The government and private organizations are trying to figure out how to recognize and treat people who are transgender or do not fully identify with the sex they were born with. Within the next year, it is possible the United States could have its first female president. Many Americans are clearly pushing the times forward. However, a great percentage of Americans who are not so keen on this overall phenomena are Christians, including Catholics. They feel that the push for more liberal ideas is threatening to their religious rights and the way the world should be.

The changes happening in our country at the moment clearly are very dividing and certainly no black and white issue. However, I hope that I can explain a bit how I, as a Catholic and a Democrat, work out some of these issues so that they make sense. At least to me.

The type of Christianity I was raised with was one of acceptance and love. I was taught by my parents and at mass about seeing Christ in everyone. I firmly believe, from what I learned at mass, through my parents, and in nearly 17 years of Catholic school, that we are created in the image and likeness of God. God loves each person equally no matter what because we are all his children and creation. No matter how imperfect we are, he still loves us when we turn to him when we struggle.

My support of the issue of gay marriage, and really gay rights as a whole, can be used to show how my thought process works. If God creates people in his image and likeness and loves us, I firmly believe that means he creates people as straight or gay. I know not everyone agrees with me about this. That is okay, but it is what I believe. I also support gay marriage because I believe God wants us to be happy and live life to the fullest in the way in which he created us. God creates humans who are attracted to the same sex, but he does not do this to curse them or try to put them in a situation of sin. God loves us all equally no matter what, and I do not think it is right to prevent someone from finding a happiness in life that others have simply because they were created a certain way.

I may not have sounded very Catholic there. So, I hope that the fact that I am pro-life can maybe rebuild a bit of my credibility there. I absolutely am disgusted by abortion. I think the death penalty devalues human life and encourages a culture of violence in the US. I think just in general modern culture does not try to recognize the beautiful of life that God has given us. However, I think it is wrong to limit people to live a full life where they are loved and accepted and not cast out by society. Jesus embraced the outsider. He worked and lived with people who were seen by his society as sinners and dirty.

I have found that this way of embracing others and trying to help others is embraced for the most part by the Democratic Party. Welfare, as it currently stands, is flawed. I will admit that. I do not think it is a bad thing, but the way it works now is not good for various reasons. However, the intent to help the needy and the poor is why I align with and support the Democratic Party. I do think the government has the responsibility to help the poor. I do not understand how, when you think about the reasoning behind many Democratic policies, it is impossible to be both a Catholic and a Democrat.

I think the reason that many people have an issue with the whole idea of being a Catholic Democrat is the fact that we often think a person has to exclusively align themselves with one group completely and all its ideologies. Yes, I am a Democrat, but do I agree 100% with what the party says? Absolutely not. The same goes for what the Catholic Church teaches. I do often feel guiltier for not being completely aligned with Catholicism than Democrats, but at the same time, there are things the Catholic Church teaches that would make me feel really yucky (best word I could think of) if I said I believed them. I cannot say I think gay marriage is wrong because I genuinely believe and think it is not for the reasons I have said. It is justified to me.

I do not know if I am right. I doubt myself pretty much every second of the day, but I am firm in what I believe because it is what allows me to see the world in a good light. No one has all the answers, and if you think you do, you are a fool. We just have to navigate through life the best we can and not put everyone into these stupid boxes. I am outside the Democrat and Catholic box, but I identify with them because they are the best things I can find now to believe in and try to find my way with. I am just Laura. I am not in either of these boxes, but I wish people would stop trying to toss me in them.

Cover Image Credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/45/U.S._Democratic_Party_logo_(transparent).svg/2000px-U.S._Democratic_Party_logo_(transparent).svg.png

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A Senior's Last Week Of High School

The bittersweet end.
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Well, this is it. This is what we've worked so hard the last four years - who am I kidding - basically what seems like our whole lives for. This is the very last week we will set foot as a student in our high school's hallways. As most schools are getting ready to set their seniors free at last, it all begins to set in - the excitement, the anxiousness, and also the sentiment and nostalgia.

For seniors, the years since our first day as a freshman at the bottom of the high school totem pole have seemed endless, but as we look back on these last few weeks, we realize that this year in particular has gone by extraordinarily fast. It was just yesterday that we were sitting in our classrooms for the very first time, going to our 'last first' practice, and getting our first taste of the (very real) "senioritis". With all that's going on in our lives right now, from sports and clubs, finals, and the sought after graduation ceremony, it's hard to really sit down and think about how our lives are all about to become drastically different. For some it's moving out, and for some it's just the thought of not seeing your best friend on the way to fourth period English; either way, the feels are real. We are all in a tug of war with the emotions going on inside of us; everything is changing - we're ready, but we're not.

THE GOOD. Our lives are about to begin! There is a constant whirlwind of excitement. Senior awards, getting out of school early, parties, and of course Graduation. We are about to be thrust into a world of all new things and new people. Calling our own shots and having the freedom we have so desperately desired since the teenage years began is right around the corner. Maybe the best part is being able to use these new things surrounding you to grow and open your mind and even your heart to ideas you never could before. We get the chance to sink or swim, become our own person, and really begin to find ourselves.

Things we don't even know yet are in the works with new people we haven't even met yet. These friendships we find will be the ones to last us a lifetime. The adventures we experience will transform into the advice we tell our own children and will become the old tales we pass down to our grandkids when they come to visit on the weekends. We will probably hate the all night study sessions, the intensity of finals week, and the overpowering stress and panic of school in general, just like we did in high school... But it will all be worth it for the memories we make that will outlive the stress of that paper due in that class you absolutely hate. As we leave high school, remember what all the parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors are telling you - this are the best times of our lives!

THE BAD. The sentimental emotions are setting in. We're crying, siblings are tearing up, and parents are full-out bawling. On that first day, we never expected the school year to speed by the way it did. Suddenly everything is coming to an end. Our favorite teachers aren't going to be down the hall anymore, our best friends probably won't share a class with us, we won't be coming home to eat dinner with our families...

We all said we wanted to get out of this place, we couldn't wait, we were ready to be on our own; we all said we wouldn't be "so emotional" when the time came, but yet here we are, wishing we could play one more football game with our team or taking the time to make sure we remember the class we liked the most or the person that has made us laugh even when we were so stressed we could cry these past few years. Take the time to hug your parents these last few months. Memorize the facial expressions of your little sister or brother. Remember the sound of your dad coming home from work. These little things we take for granted every day will soon just be the things we tell our college roommate when they ask about where we're from. As much as we've wanted to get out of our house and our school, we never thought it would break our heart as much as it did. We are all beginning to realize that everything we have is about to be gone.

Growing up is scary, but it can also be fun. As we take the last few steps in the hallways of our school, take it all in. Remember, it's okay to be happy; it's okay to be totally excited. But also remember it's okay to be sad. It's okay to be sentimental. It's okay to be scared, too. It's okay to feel all these confusing emotions that we are feeling. The best thing about the bittersweet end to our high school years is that we are finally slowing down our busy lives enough to remember the happy memories.

Try not to get annoyed when your mom starts showing your baby pictures to everyone she sees, or when your dad starts getting aggravated when you talk about moving out and into your new dorm. They're coping with the same emotions we are. Walk through the halls remembering the classes you loved and the classes you hated. Think of the all great times that have happened in our high school years and the friends that have been made that will never be forgotten. We all say we hated school, but we really didn't. Everything is about to change; that's a happy thing, and a sad thing. We all just have to embrace it! We're ready, but we're not...

Cover Image Credit: Facebook

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