Losing MY Religion Part Three
The Beginning of the End
Ultimately, with this not-so-little series my goal has been to show that both Fundamentalism and over-emphasis on “relationship” or “spirituality” without structure are both about how I am so much better than everyone else. They are both flawed overemphases of self.
At the root of Fundamentalism, and of Postmodern approaches to faith is the same mitake, one sin: pride. St. Thomas Aquinas affirms that “heresy is a species of pride rather than of unbelief” [Summa Theol. II, part 2, q. 11 art. 1.]. I think at the heart of many if not all Christian heresies, errors in the faith, is the sin of thinking we know better; we think we could do better or somehow make something better than what has clearly been established and affirmed.
I hope that with this series I have invited you into thoughtfulness, and if you have hate mail, I would love your comments too.
My attempt is to invite you into a broader view of what Catholicism is, and perhaps to see that there is more to Christianity than the fundamentalism of some, and more to Christianity than the liberalism of others. I have hoped we could all learn that the faith is deeper than we give it credit for on both sides of the great divorce from Reason in our understanding of Faith. Pope John Paul II said that “Faith and Reason are like two wings by which the human soul rises to the contemplation of truth.” I hope I’ve shown the importance of truth, and virtue in this whole process.
The Catholic Church is wider than some critics admit, and too wide for others. She is wider than disagreements with “religion” and more “progressive” than some care to admit. She upholds social values in an age where “conservatives” more and more care about fiscal policies and immigration than societal values and for the dignity of all humans, not just embryonic humans, though even these smallest of beings she preserves with all her might.
The Church is and always has been a broad place, a welcoming and large home for many children of the faith. Vatican II may not be your favorite Church document, but it’s a document of the Church and speaks to us with authority. Dislike does not give us Catholics the authority to rebel.
Losing MY Religion
I grew up in a religion that taught me about a man in heaven who wanted me to love him, and worship him. I grew up being taught that this was the most important thing in the world. I was never taught how to “play well with others” in regards to my faith. The funny thing is, we teach our children to share, to honor adults and to listen to wise counsel, but reject these notions as we grow up and think we know better.
When the Church found me, she invited me away from myself, away from my own little creation, away from a religion I had invented, and into the broad place, with wide-open doors where I could play with other Christians. Where I could celebrate God in a huge assembly, not just with some otherworldly people who had no idea I exist and who I could not relate to. She invited me to the communion table to share in Christ at the side of St. Augustine, St. Jerome, St. Athanasius, St. Josemaria Escriva, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. John of The Cross, St. Peter, St. John the Apostle, Pope John Paul II and others.
She invited me into a faith shaped by holiness and sacrifice rather than opinion and conjecture. She invited me into a faith that developed biblically and historically. She invited me into a playground where I could rest with God’s other children, and have a generous faith, a faith that had fences, but no to keep others out. She invited me to understand that these fences were to keep us safe and free from the dangers outside those curtains. She invited me to a tent of meeting, rather than a field where all manner of beast might pass by and snatch the unprotected.
She invited me away from my own idiocy and obstinate lack of virtue, to recognize others might know God better than I do, and to rise up to the level of my spiritual energies. She asked me to take a yoke upon myself, a true and great system of teachings, a new culture, a new life. She took me out of the spotlight, and invited me away from MY religion. She gave me faith in Jesus, a Mother, many brothers and sisters, and an enduring hope for the final day.
I am still developing, sometimes I am weak, sometimes I am angry, sometimes I am broken, but where I am weak and embrace the humility this brings, perhaps it is for our benefit. I know Jesus prayed that we might be one, and sometimes I come off a bit harsh, but this is my desire.
I desire that we might all learn to live together in peace. Peace cannot be had without the difficult and necessarily life-altering encounters made possible through honesty. If we cannot trust one another, we cannot live in peace. I seek that we may all learn to live together. I offer these correctives to Catholics to encourage them to seek out relationships with our separated brothers and sisters. I offer these correctives to protestants who would seek to say that we worship falsely, or are only religious without any spirituality.
I am learning to grow up, one day at a time, and I am deeply sorry where sometimes have failed in charity, or understanding. I can only offer the promise to work harder for my faith, and to embody not only an intellectual position, but a moral and spiritual one as well. My faith is slowly calling me from gripping tightly to a precious but imperfect thing, like the creature Gollum and his ring. The Church has called me into a full faith where we all share the same story, and each retelling might have a slightly different emphasis and perspective, but the story remains the same.
It’s nice to have a faith that calls me away from myself and into a broader assembly. It’s nice to have a faith that circumvents my obstinate obsession with my own opinions, on the one side or on the other. It’s nice to have a faith that strips me of a false precious, and teaches me that the reallly and truly precious thing is others. It’s nice to lose MY religion, to in the end have the religion that really matters.