The Christian thing to do…

At one time, I thought being a part of a church would lead to spiritual growth.

At one time, I thought parishioners cared about the health and well-being of one another.

At one time, I thought attending services would lead to understanding and deeper appreciation of the Holy Scriptures.

I thought wrong.

Just because one is, a Christian does not automatically make them one and then again, my definition on what a Christian should be is just that, my definition.  My Christianity or what I believe defines me as one, are based on my own experiences and interactions within the church. No two experiences are similar, nor are scripture interpretations, prayers said, if at all, after communion, or what hat is appropriate for Easter. Christianity is a self-thing not communal as I once thought, which, proved to be wrong as well.

The Ten Commandments are a Christians’ guide to living life, but what one perceives as coveted could be another’s’ striving to attain the American dream. (Although the six room mansion with an indoor pool and marble bathroom is a bit much). If we truly loved one another, we would put forth the love we’d like to receive and not bear false witness with gossiping, lying, and acting incredibly cruel because we can. We would not cheat, murder (squashing an idea before it has roots is murder of the mind kind), or say, “OMG” at the slightest impulse or adulation of whatever.

Lessons I rather not learn are learnt. 551-001

Christians or parishioners are not the apostles, nor is the preacher, Jesus or God.

At one time, I thought, at least at my church, we, the parishioners were to mimic the apostles in spreading the good word and treating each other with love and kindness, as Jesus taught.

At one time, I thought the priest, preacher, rector or whatever the correct pc title is, were the instruments of God and through Jesus’ life and preaching would lead by example.

I thought wrong.

What I find are parishioners who are mean, afraid and quite frankly, lost. What I find is conflict and abusiveness with the leadership. What I find is a person, me, who once so adored her church, torn with a lack of trust in what is said and done. Well, what is said and not done or what should be said and done or not doing or saying anything at all.

I don’t know if I am the Christian I would like to be. It is hard to tear away the layers and see the truth that maybe in some way I am like those whom I criticize. Worse, is seeing the truth and not knowing what to do with it.

Transitions continue, welcomed or not, bearing good news or showing up the ugly truths.

Instead of participating in this Lenten season, I find quietness, comfort and solace within my Forward Movement, at home with a bag of Frito lays.

Our Father…

Religion and spirituality are tricky subjects when it comes to defining the person I see in the mirror. Leftist political views as well as my outright allegiance to LGBT equal rights and marriage would have had me excommunicated from the Catholic Church from the time I took my first communion vows-yes, even at that young age I thought differently.  

Although baptism was painless (got to wear the mini wedding dress with the veil ,white gloves and my Buster Brown patent leathers), the sacrament of Confirmation would not take place in the near or distant future. Although, I attended and survived the weekly classes, the decision was made to hold off on the commitment before choosing my confirmation name.  I was not ready. It did not feel right. The decision to commit to a dedicated religious life absorbed in guilt and yearly confessions would have to wait until later when and if maturity set in.

I remained a sporadic Catholic throughout most of my adult life, going to services when it was convenient or after some emotional trauma. Guilt going in to service and guilt coming out of service-the perpetual sinner can never find redemption. Rituals followed throughout the liturgical calendar year. I was not devout and did not adhere to the guidelines for repentance and prayers and conveniently forgot confession prior to receiving communion and would never attain “poster child” status due to my lack of pledges and proselytizing.

Eventually my presence at services ended but I read the bible infrequently to make up for it. I lived life, partying, working, career driven, relocating across country, establishing my career, losing my career and relocating back. However, mí Alma salio de mí cuerpo family illness moved in and I sought respite at a Catholic church in Brooklyn.

The church I went to in Brooklyn has a façade set in dark stone, some, dislodged and missing. The grey gargoyles near the steeple peer down crouched in their perches as if preparing for flight.  The interior ceilings once white washed contain water stains and holes while the tile flooring is dingy, caked with dirt.  It is in need of structural repairs and lacks the finances to get it done.

A Church can be grand, with flaws and all and this church is grand because its priests deliver uplifting sermons and parishioners who remain steadfast regardless of their dwindling numbers or strained finances continue to attend services.

I attended this church three to four times a week during mom’s doses of cocktails and discovered peace, stillness and comfort. Incense did not burn during mass, communion wafers were divided in half and electrical candles replaced the wax and wicks. It was cold, very cold during the winters and hot and humid during the summers. Nevertheless, I continued to attend because I needed to. Sitting in the pew, in the dimly lit church with the altar before me, allowed perseverance and hope to seep into my thoughts and strengthen me.

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