Being born second can sometimes be a challenge. Up to that point, the firstborn has had Mommy and Daddy all to herself, and then here comes this usurper grabbing their attention. There’s bound to be a bit of animosity and good old-fashioned sibling rivalry.
Take, for example, the relationship between my older sister and myself. One day, when I was still quite young, she brought me the family dictionary and made a great deal of pointing out the fact that her name began with an “S” and my name began with a “K” (A.J. Avila is my pen name), and as anybody can see, there are more “S” words in the dictionary than “K” words.
Which, of course, was exactly the reaction she was hoping for.
A few years later she pointed out that her green eyes were superior to my brown ones because green eyes, you know, are far more rare.
I didn’t cry that time, although I was a bit dismayed.
But hang on. Wait a minute!
Let me get this straight: The first letter of her name was superior because it was more common, but her eye color was better because it was less common. The first letter of my name was inferior because it was less common, but my eye color was also inferior because it was more common.
I smell a rat.
This is exactly the same sort of contradiction you’re likely to come across from those who criticize the Catholic Church. We’re condemned for both fasting and feasting. We’re supposedly anti-woman while venerating Mary. We’re told we hate sex yet somehow we are also denounced for having boatloads of children.
Apparently any stick will do when it comes to beating the Catholic Church.
As Robert Hugh Benson points out in his book Paradoxes of Catholicism, the reason such criticisms exist is because the Church is built upon a paradox: Jesus Christ is both 100% God and 100% man. Since the Church is His very Body, this makes it both human and divine.
So we both fast and feast. We fast because we’re sinful humans. We feast because our God is a Divine Man Who rose from the dead.
Of course those who utter denunciations against the Church don’t realize their contradictory nature any more than my sister did.
At least not until you gently point it out to them.