I am a Cradle Catholic.
Seems like I could stop there, but I won’t. I will elaborate for my benefit and perhaps to benefit some who, like me, may be on a path to Reversion.
I was brought up a Catholic Christian. I attended Mass, devoutly recited my daily prayers, Prayed the Rosary in Community, etc. Then, I grew up.
I went with a friend to Temple.
I read about and was exposed to other forms of religion.
In College I thought I was just the most Brilliant Person ever when I became a self-proclaimed Agnostic Catholic.
I was Catholic, and yet I was sometimes, okay, many times filled with doubt that there even was a God. That a God even existed! I would pose the over-used and yet still continuously asked questions:
If there was a God ,why was there Evil in the world?
If God exists, why does He allow suffering?
How do we know God isn’t a SHE?
Is there even such a thing as Free Will if God already knows everything? God is Omniscient, after all.
And oh so many more of these…
Don’t misunderstand me here. I am not all of a sudden a Great, Perfectly Practicing, Bible Quoting, All-knowing, Super-Religious Catholic. I am on a path to Reversion. Hence, From the Pews.
I sit in the pews. I listen and try, did you get that, try to apply what I hear in the Homilies, what I read from Spiritually Nourishing articles, blogs, magazines, books and of course, the Bible.
Quick aside here, just to reinforce the try, if you get the image of me and my family quaintly sitting in a tight, cozy family circle conversing about what we read in the Bible, you’d be way off. We have read the Bible more in the past few months than usual, but that’s because we try to attend a Bible Study Group held at Our Parish on Monday’s.
I am not proud of this, about the not reading and opening the Bible up more, just to clarify.
I am not proud of not being more Devout and Faithful, but it is my reality.
I try and try to be a Better Catholic Christian every day.
It is hard work, and it is something that I have to consciously decide to do each and every day.
Why do I do it? Why do I try?
Let’s go back to the beginning…I am a Cradle Catholic and I remember that awe, that respect and even the Fear that was instilled in me as a child about God. And to be quite blunt, I don’t want to go to Hell. I am fearful of God’s Wrath, Fury and His Justice.
Yes, I know God is Love. But, God is Just. And if He is Just, well, I am no Saint. FAR FROM IT! And if He distributes His Justice, well, let’s just say that no amount of AC will help 😉
We have a saying in Spanish in regards to why when one gets older one becomes so devout:
“Porque ya dimos las cuatro patadas al Mundo.”
Because we have already given the World the four kicks, meaning we have done our will, we have done as we pleased in all 4 corners of the Earth and now we want to repent and be Devout, because we have no more kick left anyway. This of course does not hold true of everyone, but you have to admit that it probably rings a bell here and there.
I am still searching for many of my questions. In all fairness, I have only started looking for these answers, I mean actively looking for them, for the past 5 yrs or so. Before that, my answers just sort of fell on my lap.
My answers came from the world. I would look for signs in songs, in others, on TV, the radio, and I have to tell you, there are answers out there, LOTS of them. They are just not the TRUTH. They are not real answers. Some contain parts of the Truth, half-truths. And the half they give us are the Nice, Sweet, Palatable, Do-able halves. The Whole Truth is uncomfortable, too much work, a burden on our Secular Lives.
The most vivid example I have of myself “searching for answers” is when I was torn between moving to Mexico or staying with my family in the US. I couldn’t decide. In reality, I didn’t want to decide. So, I let Oprah decide for me!
I was watching Oprah and the show was about these Multi-Millionaires that left it all to follow their dreams. Others left their Millions to Serve others. I was truly inspired and I figured that I didn’t have Millions, therefore, I should follow my then husband and serve him and his family’s needs.
Decision made. Problem solved. No thinking on my part, the world solved it for me.
At the time I fully believed that there were no such things as coincidence, the world was filled with a guiding energy (also learned from Oprah), all my questions would be answered if I just listened to the world around me. I have to tell you, it was great to have to take no responsibility for many, many years. I let the world make all of my decisions. In all fairness, not all of them were bad, but some were detrimental to my family and to myself.
Contraception is another biggie. I remember the first time I thought about it. I obtained a ton of information and justified taking the pill. I knew the Church was against it, but I found a workaround. In your vows you don’t state that you will have as many children as God sends you, you say that you will have as many as you can raise responsibly. Also, I talked with many friends and they knew people that were trying the Rhythm Method and still got pregnant. Therefore I knew that didn’t work either (FYI…the Method that has a 99.5% effectiveness in Natural Family Planning can be found here). And besides, I said to myself, and a Priest confirmed this once, what I did was between me and God.
You see, if you look hard enough, you can find a Priest that will tell you what you want to hear or close enough to it. Remember, just because they are Priests does not mean that they are Perfect. They are Human, and thus Flawed, just like the rest of us. But…BUT, they are NOT like the rest of us.
They dedicate their lives to Christ, to study, to learn, they instruct, they guide, they possess what most of us lack, Faith. Their hands are consecrated. To put it simply though, the simple truth is that Priests are the only ones who can offer the sacrifice of the Mass. No Priests, No Mass. No Mass, No Church. No Mass, No World.
As Fr. Hardon puts it, “The Mass is possible only because Christ’s death on Calvary is literally repeated in every Mass offered on Catholic altars throughout the world. This is not indulging in rhetoric. This is the literal truth! Except for the Mass, the justified anger of God would long ago have wiped out the human race because of its multitude of sins.” You are more than welcome to read more about the Priesthood from Fr. Hardon here.
I am a Cradle Catholic. I am trying to become a True Active and Practicing Catholic Christian. My rants and raves may seem all over the place, granted, they probably are, but there is a method to the madness.
You see, this is how my Faith Journey goes.
One day it seems to be calm and serene.
Another day it is very firm.
Another filled with doubt.
And yet another, practically non-existent.
And then there’s today, all over the place and wanting to reaffirm and bear witness that a Reversion is possible, we just have to work, search and believe…
Over the last few years I have learned something… God does speak to us. The more I listen, the louder He calls. Every lie is half a truth, and that is why we believe them. God speaks through the world, Madame O has half the truth. The other half is that the world holds not just his voice…
As we move in our journeys, we reach a point where we realize that we must learn to discern. TV, radio, books, friends, lovers, family… they can all be incarnations of his word and my job is to know when they are and when to igrnore. But how do we cradle catholics do this?
And here is the hard part: we must do what as cradle catholics we aren’t used to doing. The day I meet a cradle catholic who was actually taught how to explore faith and not to just spew out rote prayers I will ask to meet their mother! We do know know the treasure in the chest upon which we sit. We must search our faith for information on how to discern – and there is mountain of information to sift through! We may not know how, but we learn fast! Just use all the tools you learned to search the world and apply it to – yes – our church!
The saints I love most are the ones who so beautifully interpret everyday events through the eyes of a loving, trusting God. St. Therese of Liseux talked of a hen guiding her chicks under its wing, protecting them as God’s hand guiding her all her life.
But alas, I am not her! I have seen too many examples where I have bought the lie that was surrounded by truth! We too couldn’t handle more children. There was no ifs, ands, ors about it. We were open to God over-ruling us, he does know best afterall… and we all have that parade of children begotten through contraception to prove he does! See, we were following the rules, right? Just not all HIS rules, just not HIS way… And this is to name just one of far too many times when I have swallowed hard as I closed my eyes.
St. Ignatius of Loyola was our start – with a program on catholictv.com called “discerning spirits” that you can watch on-line… but I have since learned there are many other catholic guides on how to know when its Him, or the other nasty little gnat.
…and so yes, though I too was a cradle catholic, I have oh so much to learn and oh so far to go. Learning that God speaks as I near 40, when most 3 year olds know it is, well, pretty sad, but hey, he loves me where I’m at and helps me get to where I’m not.
I now know what it means to be born of the spirit, as I suspect you do too. So in our own way, we have had our conversion – from crade to “Spirit”, now we work on our heads!
I LOVE your posts!
They make me think, make me go “hmmm,” they make me laugh, but more important, they give me strength!
I am Blessed to be able to call you Friend 🙂