Oh my .... God.
This blog was inspired somewhat by the death of the pope today. Hardly any of this blog however , is about the pope. I will leave that to someone else.
I am Catholic. Not a practising Catholic but, I was raised Catholic by other non practising Catholics. I don't mean that to be in any way disrepectful. It is the truth. Once in a while I went to church as a young girl and I used to sing in the choir at school so during that time I was at church quite often. I liked being in the choir for the same reason I liked joining the track team, the cross country team, the basketball team, the volleyball team.....you name it........I was allowed to leave the house. Everyone though I was this athletic social butterfly.
I would of done anything to get out of the house first of all and secondly, singing in the choir would allow me to wear some of the high heel shoes my neighbour at the time would give my sisters and I. Yes, I was thirteen and wearing the big wedge shoes. Standing so proud singing my Ava Maria's. (If I only knew then what it was going to do to my still forming ankles!)
So that was what the positive side to being Catholic. It got me out of the house to sing in the choir at church. The downside at that time to being Catholic was walking around constantly with the heebyjeebies....knowing that the devil was going to get me. Somehow, someway, he was going to get me. The teachers scared us, the priests scared us, my mother, my principal.......I mean I remember asking in Grade 8 religion class what apparently was the most blasphemous question anyone could ask "If Jesus loves us and we love Jesus and Jesus is good and Jesus cares for us then why do we spend more time talking about the devil?"
I remember the hush that went over the classroom. I remember my teacher's vein throbbing uncontrollably from his sweaty forehead.
I remember being told not to question the bible or anything in it. I remind the teacher at this point I am not questioning the bible but, rather questioning the teacher, my parents, society in general. The teacher did not know what to do with me so he did what they did in those days and sent me to have the strap. It was by the Principal, Mrs. FitzPatrick who was a nun. I remember not being afraid or worried. Surely being punished was a good thing... that way the devil wouldn't come looking for me himself. It was taken care of.
I stopped questioning religion after that happened until my late teens. I actually began to try and "find myself" spiritually. I started going to different churches of different denominations thinking that one of the faiths would jump out at me. Reach me in a way catholicism never did. But, no matter what type of church there was always a basket of some sort coming around or box with a plea on it for donations. In fact one church I ventured to it wasn't enough to just give your money, they wanted you to become a missionary and go help the less fortunate all over the world. You have to understand that at the time I was 17 or 18. I thought I was the less fortunate. Nobody had problems like me. You know, the whole self absorbed stage we all go through. After fruitless attempts to awaken my spiritual side, I stopped church hopping.
I don't know technically what religion I am. I am probably a mish mash of different religions. As I said I was raised Catholic but, I don't feel Catholic.
I do believe in God . I do believe he had a son. According to the holy bible Jesus was Jewish. So this kind of always confused me because if I worship a Jew shouldn't I be one? Anyhow, I don't know if I buy the entire Immaculate Conception story but, I definitely have studied the bible, read it, enjoyed reading it and found great power and strength from it. I have prayed for miracles, seen miracles in front of my eyes and have always felt indeed there is a higher power and indeed I believe it is my God.
Who is my God?
My God loves me, My God tests me from time to time, My God gives me obstacles and the tools to bypass them, My God gives me joys, blessings and happiness from the simplest of things. My God gives me inner strength , courage and the gift of kindness. I am a good person. I stop to help the lady carry the stroller up the stairs. I give my seat to the old man who is trying to pretend he is ok standing up. I hold the door for the geeky guy with ripped t-shirt. It rather pains me to see people treat others cruelly or with no compassion. The state of our planet frightens me.
Let me give you an example. The Tsunami. Thousands died. Thousands more came together and pledged money to help the survivors. Millions of dollars were raised to help the victims of this tragedy. Meanwhile, back at home I witness things like a severly handicapped man not able to get on an elevator at the subway because it was too crowded with well bodied people with perfectly fine limbs who would not vacate the space for the ONE person who really needed it.
My point is that although the tsunami relief was wonderful and many people did give with big hearts that meant well..........I wonder how many pledged their twenty dollars, took their moral bath and the very next day pushed someone out of the way or did not hold the door for an elderly person behind them.......We must treat each other with dignity and respect!!!
At the end of the day, when I close my eyes to go to sleep - I know I have tried my very best to be a good person, to do the right thing and to try even harder tomorrow.
This is my religion. This is my driving force. My God is the invisible force I feel around me everytime I do something nice or speak well of someone. The invisible force surrounds me and tells me it will all be worth it - not just at the gratifying moment - but, in the end.
And how can I possibly avoid going to that wonderful place we Catholics call heaven if I continue to strive to be the very best HUMAN being I can be???