I used to be a real Catholic. I went to religious-education classes and I waited in the narthex after mass every Sunday to greet all of the old ladies with their powdered-sugar hair and pressed, tan jackets. But as I grew older, I began to doubt my beliefs, simply because of the consistent challenges to them posed by the media, peers and even members of my own family.
After much reflection, I now consider myself to be a practicing member of Catholishism, a religion for the middle-man, or anyone else who finds it comforting to selectively believe.
Sometimes I want more than anything to just be Catholic, or even not Catholic, because it’s confusing when you aren’t sure exactly what or whom to follow.
I do believe there is a God. Science proves that Moses might have taken some creative liberties when writing the creation story in Genesis, but there are still so many unanswered questions.
It’s easy to pin all of these unanswered questions onto a common deity. It’s easy to convince yourself that someone or something out there knows more than you do.
But that’s actually not why I believe in him (or her?). I believe because I think I’ve felt God several times before.
The first time I felt God I was probably in fifth or sixth grade. I was standing in the church of the Most Blessed Sacrament, looking up at an ivory carved skeleton of a man. His head was limp and crowned with thorns and his chin was resting on his bare chest. Above him was a plaque that stated in bold calligraphy, “INRI, King of the Jews.” I looked at the dead man. He looked down at his bloody feet which were nailed to the bottom of a cross.
My palms were pressed flat against one another, my thumbs against my chest with the end of my nose brushing my fingertips. I was locked in the classic position of a praying child, kneeling still, but my thoughts were racing, as they often did, and then —
Everything seemed quiet.
The image of the pews and altar blended into a thick wash of varying shades of brown, and I became increasingly aware of my heartbeat. The walls within me had become paper-thin so that I could feel that steady beat reverberating through my praying hands. I felt tall. My bones were extending like a collapsed telescope, and I was growing and rising and reaching. I was getting taller and taller and taller. I think that was God. I think he was stretching me. If not, it was a hallucination or imagination of some kind, but I’d like to think that it was him.
People today are afraid to talk about God. They whisper about him, they hand out pocket-sized copies of the Old Testament and politely ask you to make a dollar donation for their weekly collection, but they don’t talk about him because, for many people, it’s just too dangerous.
Corruption stems from a select few defending perverted interpretations of history; moral obligations are enforced with guilt; arguments boil between brothers over their acceptance of one another. Today, following your faith is controversial.
I think finding God is a personal thing. Some might find God in the church, the mosque, the synagogue, the temple; I might find God in the falling leaves of a dogwood tree, you might find God in the eyes of someone that you love or you may never find God at all.
In my opinion, God means something different to every person so we can’t all find God in the same way. God might not be the creator. God might just be a feeling, or a force or an easy explanation.
God makes sense of the world, and that makes absolutely no sense to me, which is why I choose to believe in the way that I do.