Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Catholic Guilt

The last post got me thinking about something... Catholic guilt. Most of the times, when you hear someone say it, they are making a joke or criticizing. But I actually feel really fortunate to have what I think is a healthy dose of Catholic guilt.

First though, I was thinking- is it even Catholic guilt? Does Catholic guilt really exist? What differentiates between "normal" guilt and Catholic guilt? Or is it just the perception that Catholics carry around more guilt than other people? I'm not totally sure. As I mentioned before, I wasn't raised in a really strict Catholic household at all, so it's not like I'm the child who went to mass every single weekend, every holy day of obligation, went to Catholic school, and has nightmares about nuns slapping my hand with a ruler. But yet, I do have Catholic guilt. I have it when I think something I shouldn't and the thought is at the expense of someone else (this is new for me, I used to only get it when I said something I shouldn't at the expense of someone else. But then I thought, the most important being of all can hear my thoughts so... I should probably watch those. And you know the thoughts become words, words become actions thing...) Yes, I am very gifted at tangents. Anyways, I also feel it if I miss mass, when it's been entirely too long since my last confession (before last Good Friday I hadn't been in 5 years which I will never let happen again; it was awkward when the priest smiled at me and said "But why so long!?!??!" lol), when I pray too selfishly which is often, when I knowingly do a crappy job at something at work just because it's easy- the list could go on!

I used to be kind of annoyed by CG (come on, typing it out was getting old). I would think, geez, can't I cut myself some slack? Or I would make an excuse for myself or self talk myself into thinking whatever it was causing CG wasn't that bad. But now that I've embraced CG, I've noticed the effect it has on my life. Like, there are times when I say I'm going to go to something (Taize prayer on Monday for example) and then an hour before I consider making up an excuse as to why we shouldn't go (we don't have any night this week to just relax). CG jumps in and says you said you were going, so go. Taize prayer was simply one of the most beautiful things I've experienced. We liked it so much we are already planning to go back next Monday even though it's the same service. It was just amazing. Without CG, I would have been at home, most likely having a snack and staring at Facebook.

I've noticed that I've become a nicer person, and I'm attributing at least some of that to CG. Now some people might tell you that means boring. Because honestly, and I hate to admit this, I used to laugh a LOT at the expense of others. Of course it was behind their backs, but that doesn't really make it better. In fact, I'm sort of afraid that I have a few friendships pretty much based off of that past time. So those friends, when they see me next, may think I'm a prude, or stuffy, or boring. But as harmless as sometimes it felt, I was a more crass, slightly less caring person until CG stepped in . I won't say I don't ever laugh when I see a People of Walmart type situation, but it's the exception rather than the rule. CG has helped me to become more spiritual and to hold myself to a higher standard. So thanks, Catholic Guilt!

(Now if only CG worked for avoiding sweets....)


  1. This was awesome to read. "Jewish guilt" is a very similar phenomenon, and I'm not sure how it came about. But it's joked about frequently up here, and I definitely see it play out with Nicole's mom and even with Nicole herself a bit, though she's less able to connect it to being Jewish since she wasn't raised with much of the religion.

  2. I've always called it Trice guilt!! It's a real thing for sure!