I grew up in a Roman Catholic home. To be fair my dad is or was Anglican and my mother is Roman Catholic. My dad converted from Anglicanism with a blessing from the Roman Catholic priest once my parents got married. He’s been attending the Roman Catholic church with my mother ever since.
Like most small children I simply accepted what my parents’ believed. I went to church every Sunday and enjoyed singing the hymns. We’d go out for lunch after and so I always looked forward to our Sunday morning routine. I was involved in the mass as an altar server and later as a reader. I even took on teaching Sunday School briefly around 16 years of age.
As I got older though, I started to notice the inconsistencies in what my parents believed versus how they actually lived. There seemed to be an escape clause somewhere that said, as long as you go to church every Sunday and repent your sins a couple times a year, you can do whatever you want the rest of the time. This was what seemed to be occurring as the “7 deadly sins” were commonly practiced, often within the first hour after leaving mass on Sunday morning.
It occurred to me to ask the question: Why do you believe in something you aren’t able to practice or follow through on or commit to in any real way? It seemed like a giant exercise in lip service that had no real purpose other than to say you did it. Begging God to forgive you a couple times a year was how you hoped to avoid hell later on. But nobody really talked about that.
It was in my 20th year of life when my mother more or less proved what I had suspected: she was not able to live as she believed. You see I was pregnant and unwed. She was embarrassed. She asked that I no longer attend mass with her once it became obvious that I was pregnant.
It goes without saying that I stopped attending mass. However, a few months later after losing the baby (he was stillborn), she told me I should now go back to church as I was no longer pregnant. I remember saying quite clearly at the time, “Why would I go back to a place that wouldn’t accept me while I was pregnant? If I’m not good enough pregnant, then I’m not good enough now.”
It was then that I forfeited my religion. The weekly adventures to church on Sunday morning stopped. For the longest time I did nothing. I had a belief in God that was still present, but I really didn’t have any label for what I believed. I just knew that what I had grown up with was not it.
It was many years later, in my late 30’s, that I had a little bit of a spiritual revelation or awakening. I began to be able to communicate with my spirit guides, started using tarot cards and realized that there was something out there that made sense to me in a spiritual, religious kind of way. I watched Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith livestream his Sunday morning service at Agape and realized that what he was teaching made sense. It was inclusive. It wasn’t fear based. There was no judgement. All was well. It was a new interpretation of the Bible that I had grown up being taught to fear. This was something I could get behind.
While I have not resumed a Sunday morning routine of spiritual teachings and I don’t profess to watch Rev. Beckwith every Sunday, I have actually started to apply and live by the teachings that I have found. Moreover, I’ve found metaphysics to be a most interesting study and have endeavored to heal and work through all of the things that I was carrying around with me.
No more am I simply paying lip service to a belief system that I wasn’t really capable of living by. Now I do the best I can to “practice what I preach”. I’m not perfect nor am I expected to be. The humanness of this process is understood and always forgiven. There is no fear, no condemnation, and judgement is reserved for those human moments we all have.
There is a meme on social media that I have found that makes perfect sense to me. “Spirituality is a relationship with the Divine. Religion is crowd control.” That’s exactly how it appears. Religion taught fear and included it’s own escape clause. It didn’t seem to require us to actually live by what we professed to believe every Sunday, only that we paid lip service regularly and begged forgiveness. Spirituality asks that you heal, forgive and move forward, simply do the best you can in every moment. There is no fear or judgement, unless someone puts it there. Your human form is not meant to be perfect it is simply a work in progress.
I’m still working out how my childhood religion and my current spirituality truly fit together. To this day I have trouble using the word “God” as it brings up those memories of Sunday morning mass. The work continues for me. Maybe one day I’ll have a blog post around I how I managed to resolve it. Until then, onward. Keep moving forward and keep healing. All is well.
Lots of love.