I'mperfect

Let’s debunk one of the most pervasive myths in our Church – Christians are perfect. Church workers are perfect. Priests are perfect. Bishops are perfect. Pope Francis is perfect.

None of us.

Not even close.

Even on our best day, wearing our best outfit, in our best pair of socks --still not perfect.

Yet so many of us continue to puff up a saintly image of ourselves as if we have it all figured out. Well, St. John the Apostle would like to call you out. Right now. Using Sacred Scripture. Which he wrote. 

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
— 1 John 1:8

I used to read that and say, “Well, duh! I would never deny that I don’t call my mom as often as I ought to, and at times I skip the Glory Be’s in my rosary.” Meanwhile, pirates would be walking the plank off the wooden beam coming out of my eye. “At least I’m not like those people. They’re way worse. I’m not saying I’m better than them, I just am better?”  

Who the hell was I kidding?!

It was as if I heard the Holy Spirit calmly breathe,

“Cut the shit, Alan.”

I work for the Church. I went to Steubenville. I was a youth minister. I have my Masters in Theology. I have the credentials of a Card-Carrying Catechetical Bad Ass. I have the qualifications in Church World to make me better. To make me better than you. But here’s the clincher: I am not. 

Not. Even.----------------------------------------------------------------------------------Close.

Perfect? Holier?

Even.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Less.

Church World sometimes tricks us into thinking that after you have these friends, or get over that one sin, you are ready for canonization. As if sinning only happens to some substandard, unfortunate people.

Take me, for example. I would confidently highlight all my greatest traits for the world to see, while burying deep, deep, underground all of my imperfections. I thought I was doing my friends and family a favor by hiding my fatal flaws. Over time I learned that I was actually doing them a great disservice by denying them access to my heart.

You know what happens when we conceal imperfections, sins, and scars? People think we don’t need them. There couldn’t be anything further from the truth. If we’re successful at hiding the ugly stuff, we might be successful at turning away the love, forgiveness, and healing which our hearts so desperately need.  

There I was, holier than thou. The real me? As it is for many men in our overwhelmingly pornographic culture, I live fighting back an addiction that threatens to consume me daily. Matt Fradd, a Catholic speaker on pornography says “We should not view freedom from pornography as a destination, but a daily choice we make by our actions.” From this I take two key points:

1.       I work for the Church and I am a sinner. (1 John 1:8)

2.       In the same way, freedom from sin is not a destination, but rather a daily choice we make by our actions.

Perfection is not our destination. We will never arrive there. We strive daily to face our challenges and we will all fail in some way, and then we must get back up. However, to put on the façade of having “made it,” well, it’s time to cut the shit. So I say dear Church, dear brothers and sisters, listen to our Mother:

The Church, however, clasping sinners to her bosom, at once holy and always in need of purification, follows constantly the path of penance and renewal.” All members of the Church, including her ministers, must acknowledge that they are sinners. In everyone, the weeds of sin will still be mixed with the good wheat of the Gospel until the end of time. Hence the Church gathers sinners already caught up in Christ’s salvation but still on the way to holiness.
— Catechism of the Catholic Church, 827

Hmm, that reminds me. You know who else is human and imperfect?

Priests.

Yup. I’m going there.

Priests, as wonderful and holy as they are, are not angels come down from heaven in majestic clerics. They’re human beings like you and me. They were born of a woman, were probably raised watching cartoons and eating Oreos, and yes—they sin. (Did he just say that?) Yup. They’ve sinned (past-tense) like us, they sin (present-tense) like us, and they will sin (future-tense) like us, because they too are of a fallen people, inhabiting a fallen world.

I’m by no means saying priests are the awful, crooked-hearted stereotypes which the media has crudely labeled them. Most are courageous, great-hearted men who are solely seeking the Lord’s heart. In fact, if we want to know what true holiness looks like, we should look to our priests because so many of them are the greatest example of what it means to live out God’s calling in our lives. They are after all consecrated to be Christ’s hands and feet. So let’s get one thing straight.

Holiness does not mean perfection.

Holiness literally means to be “chosen by God.”

Who makes you Holy? Jesus.

Who makes you worthy? Jesus.

Who’s perfect? Not you.

Who’s Holy? You are. By your Baptism.

I’d be lying if I said I have no frustrations with the Church. I’ve been let down, made to feel inferior, and even estranged by Church representatives. “Is this the Church?” I’ve wondered. Is this the Church that Christ established? So imperfect...

Last week I pondered these questions during a quiet daily mass. The music was less than angelic. The homily was almost nice. The old people in the pews sort of attempted to smile. The Eucharist however, was perfect. The grace given in the Confessional before Mass could not have been more perfectly orchestrated to envelop my soul.

Christ, in his perfect humanity, has left this earth, but through the ministry of his apostles Jesus continues his presence in the Church. We the Church are ever perfect and imperfect. Perfect are her Sacraments, imperfect are her people. We as Church-goers, as Christians, must never wrongly swap those truths. Let’s strive to cut the bull in our lives and live instead as God’s Chosen ones, not his perfect ones. Perfect are her Sacraments, imperfect are her people.

Christ, ‘holy, innocent, and undefiled,’ knew nothing of sin, but came only to expiate the sins of the people. The Church, however, clasping sinners to her bosom, at once holy and always in need of purification, follows constantly the path of penance and renewal.
— Catechism of the Catholic Church, 827

Dear Church,

Cut the Shit,

Sincerely,

The Hopeful Imperfect

ALAN BADIA IS A YOUTH MINISTER IN TOLEDO, OHIO WHO SELF-IDENTIFIES AS A TEXAN. HE LOVES JESUS AND THE TV SHOW ARROW. HE ALSO HAS REALLY VIVID DREAMS. YOU CAN FOLLOW HIM AT@ALANJONBOSCO