18 April 2006

Lately, I have to admit...

..that I've been having a crisis of faith. I always thought, when I heard that phrase growing up, that it would be much more dramatic -- ringing bells, weeping women, that sort if thing. But really, I think it's just been part of the restlessness and dissatisfaction I've been feeling.

I was raised Catholic, and went to Catholic school for years -- I enjoyed my faith, it brought me a sense of confidence and peace, at least then. I don't know if it was an issue of blind acceptance before, or if I simply experienced more of the world. It was very difficult for me to reconcile my faith -- I memorized that little pocket catechism, I knew all those little details -- with what I found I actually believed in reality. I stopped going to church -- not so much out of protest because I didn't see the point. According to what I knew, I was 'living in sin.' Because you need to go to confession before participating in mass, and because you need to actually be sorry and willing to change for confession to bring absolution, I didn't see how going would do me any good. I thought I was a good person, though I know I made my mistakes, and I didn't think the things I did -- participating in a loving, monogamous relationship, supporting a woman's right to choose, etc -- were wrong.

The last few months, though, I've spent a lot of time thinking about religion -- just because I don't go to mass doesn't mean spirituality isn't important to me. By chance, I was working one weekend up by the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, a beautiful place that I always enjoyed visiting in high school, and I decided to stop in. It was a moving experience for me, I spent way longer than I'd meant to there... but I didn't feel any different. I've been to church a few times. I pray, though not quite the way I'd been taught. I'm not sure how much of my discomfort is that old sense of habit, all the rules I still know in the back of my mind, or an actual issue with my faith.

Sunday, I was over at my parent's house having dinner for Easter, when my dad realized it was time for Benediction (he watches it on TV at 7 oclock regularly). He's always been very devout, and two bouts with two difference cancers has only heightened this, which is fine. He just kinda mentioned it, excused himself (dinner was over, we were just talking) and went to watch. My mom's reaction, however, really disturbed me.. when he left, she remarked that she should have realized it was time, and that she must be a bad person for having forgotten. I was taken aback. Without really intending to get into a discussion about religion, I brought up the point that Jesus didn't go to Benediction either, so he couldn't really hold it against her.

I'm not sure really how to phrase what's bothering me, so maybe this whole post is pointless. How can you draw the distinction between what's actually important in faith -- any faith, they all follow the same basic mechanisms -- from things that people have added in? Are the things people added over the years just as important -- maybe they're meant to help later generations learn from follies of the previous ones. Or are they part of an agenda that may or may not be relevant today? If you throw off organized systems all together, do you simply rely on the conscience?

I don't know.

It's very frustrating for me.


Mrs. LeBlanc said...

I think the questions you're asking are very intelligent ones. For me, a confirmed Methodist (though that makes no difference in my belief system--I think I'd feel the way I do no matter the denomination), the personal relationship I have with my God is the one that matters. I have heard that it is said in the Bible that God doesn't agree with religion as organized and segregated sects, and that helps me keep my own faith in perspective. It's not a popular opinion in the Christian faith, but I really think that all religions are different means to the same end--we are all searching for the meaning and root of this experience we call life. How you reach God is totally up to you.

I also think our mid-20s age perspective has a lot to do with your doubts. We are highly educated, and in that education process, we are taught to question. If by questioning your faith, you come to your own resolutions, that's what's important.

Lisa said...

I believe everyone should question their faith (or lack of it) in order to learn what's best for them. I truly believe people need to make their won choices on what they want to believe, and that means questioning your preconcieved notions and all the information that has always been given to you.