I simply cannot come to terms with my religious loyalties, needs, feelings, etc. This is what I know:
I believe in:
- God the Father
- God the Son (aka.... Jesus!)
- God the Spirit This means that, yes, I do believe in the mystery of the Holy Trinity.
- the Blessed Virgin Mary (affectionately known as the "BVM"). Really now, do you think that just anybody could have done what she did?
- the Saints. Let's be clear on this, now. I do not think that the Saints are as important as any of the above. Why believe in ancient Saints? Maybe because there are 19th and 20th century saints whose miracles and amazing lives have been undeniably documented, and we know that these are not fabrications. Logically speaking, the criteria has never changed, so it's not a stretch for me to believe just as much in a ninth century saint as I would in a nineteenth century saint. Why wouldn't someone as incredible as, say, Mother Teresa, have more pull with God than your average Joe? It just makes sense. Also, there is evidence in my own life that asking a saint to intercede on my behalf actually works. It's about faith. If they know that you believe in them, they will help you.
-some sort of organized religion in my life. This is not to be confused with faith or spirituality. These things can be intertwined, or they can be mutually exclusive. Simply put, it's just easier to stay connected with your faith if you use organized religion as a facilitator.
-the transformation of the bread and wine into the body and blood during Mass. That's a big one.
I do NOT believe in:
- the infallibility of the Pope. Sorry, but these guys are human beings who rise in the ranks of the Church just like someone rises in the ranks of any other organization. Naming them as Pope doesn't change their humanness. To insinuate that we, the great unwashed, need some sort of infallible conduit in order to fully commune with God is, frankly, insulting and unacceptable to me. The Pope can and may be a great man, a holy man, a compassionate man, etc... but at the end of the day, he's still just a man.
-the Sacrament of Penance. This really goes hand in hand with my feelings on the Pope. I frequently ask for forgiveness for this or that. Is this not valid because I didn't convey it via my Priest? Nonsense.
- Man-made rules of the Church that fly in the face of the real teachings of Jesus. The litmus test for me are the commandments of Jesus. If something doesn't ring true to me because it is ultimately harmful or judgmental of other people, then I'm not for it. There is no real evidence in the teachings of Jesus to support the ban on artificial birth control, celibate priests, or the marginalization of women. Homophobia is another issue for me.
So, at this point in time, I am officially confused. Holy week has made me realize how much I love the rituals of the Catholic Church. The new Pope has the potential to be one of the greatest in modern history. But I can't deny the issues that I have with some of this Church's "rules"or the anger that is conjured inside of me when Catholic zealots go public with their cultish rants. These people cannot represent ME! I may spend the rest of my life attending Mass and wrestling with my issues, and I guess that's ok. Better to devote conscious thought to this part of my life than to turn my back on it altogether.