I’ve grown more spiritually in the past ten years since I unofficially left the Catholic church than I have my entire life. I was raised Catholic, went to church every Sunday, attended Catholic schools for 12 years and got married in church. It is a part of who I am and a part I love.
Over the years, I’ve learned so much from other faiths, through self reflection, through prayer, through meditation and through listening. And the Catholic religion no longer speaks to me. It felt exclusive, and I longed for inclusivity.
Today, my love and faith in God/the Universe/the Higher Power has grown stronger, deeper and is more consistent than it was when I was a practicing Catholic. I do my best to live a life of faith versus a life of fear. I was more fearful as a Catholic than I am as a lapsed one.
So it was with great surprise, pleasure and complete joy that God and I had a hoot of a time at a funeral mass on Saturday. It was a beautiful celebration of the life of someone I didn’t know, but went to support my mom and my sweet cousin. “This is what we do,” I remember thinking on the 40 minute drive to the old neighborhood. “We give our time and we support the people we love. You can handle the amens, the kneeling, the droning priest…”
Oh the gift I was given. Regardless of my “Lapse,” I still feel nostalgic and at home when I’m in church. The smell of incense and the memories of May Crownings are forever soothing.
But Saturday, it was more than familiarity I felt. As the Celebrant began, I immediately felt God in the house. I was captivated by the same old prayers. The heartfelt and upbeat eulogy introduced me to a lovely woman, filled with love. The scripture readings spoke to my heart
In the Letter of St. Paul to the Philippians 4:4-9, we were told to “…not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God…. whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things… And the God of peace will be with you.”
This is what I believe. I believe that we truly do not have to be anxious, even though life throws us into the abyss on occasion. We need to be grateful for all we DO have, and the rest, we surrender to the Universe, to God and we know all will be well. I believe by setting our intentions and changing our thoughts to those that are good and right and yes, lovely, we will have peace.
This bible verse, this message, is spoken by so many soul seekers, wisdom teachers and authors – but delivered differently. It is all saying the same. Let go, think well, give thanks.
The rest of the mass was just as touching, including the personal homily, where the Reverend came down into the aisle, and a few bars at a time, sang the Prayer of St. Francis. For those of you unfamiliar with this prayer, turned song, it is all about learning to walk the walk, learning to become people who love instead of hate, pardon instead of judge, bring light to darkness and to be the most authentic version of ourselves.
So with each bar sung, he then spoke about each one. He told of how easy it is to judge and how much more challenging it is to pardon. How easy it is to sink into darkness and see it in others instead of being and seeing the light.
He was open, he was honest and he was relatable. Between his easy spoken, yet fulfilling sermon, and the songs lead by one of the most gifted singers I have heard in my lifetime, we were inspired, energized and filled with love and hope.
The last song of the mass, an Irish folk song called Welcome the Traveler Home was met with quiet and reverent claps to the beat. We all felt like we were truly sending off the celebrated woman – home.
We went home that day too. We left filled with joy, feeling like we were giving and indeed did receive. We received love, grace and hope. So by giving we receive. Where there is darkness we bring our light. And guess what? We got some light back in return.
What I know for certain is that even though I let go of what I learned about God and faith through religion, I have a solid relationship with God and faith because of it. I also learned, last Saturday, that even though I don’t go to church, inspiration and love, and God, still live there. And it’s nice checking in every now and then.
Creating Space for the People in Our Lives
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