I haven’t yet directly discussed my religious faith, but I think it’s about time I did. After all, if this blog is about my deepest influences, well, this is the deepest. The thing is, my story isn’t all that exciting. I don’t have an interesting conversion story. I was raised Catholic, and I have never wandered away from the Church. As a teenager, I transferred to a Catholic high school and loved it. I went to Mass every Sunday when I was away at college. I even taught the 5th grade Sunday school class during my senior year. When I was starting my first teaching job and suffering from social anxiety disorder, attending Mass was about the only thing I did that got me out of my apartment and into my new community.
Maybe if I have not questioned my faith deeply or struggled with serious doubts, it means that my faith is shallow or childish, but I don’t think so. Whenever I stop and ask myself, what if I’m wrong? what if there is no God? or what if the Muslims have it right, or the Jews have it right? then nothing makes sense to me. The only thing that makes sense of the universe for me is my belief that God loves His creatures so much that His Son chose to become one of us, to show us how to live and to submit humbly to torture and death before rising again so that all of our sins can be forgiven if we ask. I realize that to a non-believer that must sound crazy, but it’s all about love. If you’re a parent, you might be able to relate to this. Wouldn’t you face torture and death in this life in order to have your children with you forever in the next?
Of course, there’s a lot more to practicing a religion than just attending services at a house of worship. My Catholic faith influences everything I do, or at least it’s supposed to. I certainly fall short on a daily basis, but I keep trying. I try to treat every person with love and respect. I try to help those in need and comfort those who are suffering or grieving. I try to live with integrity. I try to honor my calling as a wife and mother. I try to make time for silent reflection so that I can hear God talking to me. I try.
I have read about two similar spiritual visions concerning the final judgment of souls at the moment of death. They were strikingly similar to each other, and they both struck a chord with me. In each of these separate visions, God asked the soul, “Do you love Me? Do you want to be with Me?” That might sound amazingly easy. Who would choose to go to Hell? Yet, in each of these visions, someone did. One was a young, married woman, and the other was actually Stalin. Both of them had made a habit of turning away from God during this life. They had conditioned their souls to reject Him. Whether or not these visions are true, they have taught me how important it is to build the habit of turning to God always.
I practice turning my heart to Him in every little thing, not just when I want something. A few nights ago, I turned off the light over the kitchen sink just as the stars were coming out, and I turned to Him in praise and wonder at His creation. When I am rocking Rose at bedtime and she is getting relaxed and sleepy in my arms, I turn to Him in thanks for my precious baby. I will keep practicing.