This question hurts when asked. Yes, if you haven't figured it out by now, I am a practicing Catholic. Not a cradle Catholic either, but a crazy convert. I "swam the Tiber", so to speak, when I was in my teens and while I've been through storms, questions, and crises, I know I could never leave my faith without first cutting off one of my limbs. It really is that dear to me.
In addition to my Catholicism, I am also a feminist (yet still pro-life, yes, I make it work), an activist, an environmentalist (learning how to be a better one) and a political moderate who leans a bit left of center. I don't do anything stereotypically "bad" but I have nothing against going out with my friends, staying out late (provided I don't have a test or a long day at work) and the occasional smoke of hookah. I question my faith and I certainly question its teachings regarding some issues (cough:women priests:cough). Mainly though, I am an outspoken rabble rouser and I am not afraid to make my voice heard on matters important to me, especially on certain topics such as the death penalty, pro-life, sexual assault, hunger, poverty (especially the feminization of poverty), gender inequity, and foreign assistance reform (by the way, get your Senators to cosponsor S. 1524, please!). So, when I do this, I am very shocked to hear this question.
You see, it's not in spite of my faith that I stand up for these things, but rather because of my faith. My faith is in Jesus Christ and Jesus told us that we were to take care of and stand up for the least of these, because by doing so, we were actually serving Him. I believe that. I also believe that God is love, that love is a choice and when chosen, endures through the ages, but it's more than an emotion because it has to last through the hard times. Even with all my questions, that's why I stay with the Church, because I do believe I find God there, and if He is love, then there is something that surpasses a human institution. And that faith has given me the courage to do things I NEVER imagined that I would do before hitting 20, whether it was lobbying Congress, speaking authoritatively on hunger issues, or a few matters too personal to mention on the Internet. Even with my doubts, the Church is where I found God and my faith has been the glue that's kept me together, even when I've thought I was breaking inside.
Finally, the God I believe in created man and woman as equals, to be treated with dignity and respect. The Church social teachings echo that in every aspect of life, for example, why we're pro-life for ALL life, not just the unborn. For that matter, we're also pro-quality of life and believe in the necessity of a living wage for every man and woman. And, for every bad apple that's come out of the Church, every child molesting, power abusing priest (and to be honest, you'll find them in married households and public school systems everywhere else, it's not just the priesthood), there has been someone like Mother Teresa, who gave up her convent life to cart the dying off the streets of Calcutta. Or Monseñor Oscar Romero, who used his position as Archbishop to stand up for the poor, even till he was murdered by death squads while saying Mass. Or St. Maximillian Kolbe, who gave up his life for someone else while in a concentration camp. Or St. Francis of Assisi.....I mean, by their fruits, you shall know them, right?
I will still question, because I'm human. And, for the record, I'm not perfect. I'm not good. I'm certainly no saint. I just keep trying and I pick myself up as needed. While I'm at it, I will continue to speak up, because that's why I believe in what I believe in. And, as for being young and having some fun, well, barring a few mortal sins, the wedding at Cana proves that there's no sin in that!
After all, I did name this blog after Doubting Thomas. It helps to know I'm not the only one. At the same time, I will die before I deny what I believe in. Because, to me, it's like breathing and there's no way to live without air.