It’s been quite a while since I went to church. It wasn’t one specific thing that happened; it was a lot of little things that changed the way I feel about church.
Up until a few years ago, a large portion of my time was spent attending Mass and being involved in church activities. I was a Leader of Song, the Assistant Choir Director of the Children’s Choir as well as an active member of both the Adult English and Italian Choirs. I was president of the Parish Council, taught CCD and was also the music curator for a long time; I put my heart and soul into that position.
As I said, a lot of little things changed my opinion of church and by that I mean organized religion. I know for many people being physically inside a church and attending services is an integral part of their lives. Sitting in the sanctuary, singing the hymns, hearing the word of God, receiving Communion, praying, feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit can be extremely moving, comforting and fulfilling. To those people who honestly feel that way, I’m very glad your lives are so richly filled.
I know where I stand with God; He and I have been pretty close since I was born – probably before that. I believe He knows my innermost feelings and hears me when I speak to Him, which is often. I tried to talk to God every night but I wasn’t always successful; I’d get tired and fall asleep. I had good intentions and He knew that. Now I speak with Him whenever I feel like it even though He knows all about me (and I truly believe that).
You notice I don’t use the word “pray”. For me that’s a bit too formal but if it works for you then go for it. There were times when I’d only pray when I was worried and things were troubling me; I’d tell God what I did wrong (as if He didn’t already know) or what was weighing me down and pray for Him to intervene. I’m sure many of you can relate.
The thought of talking to God came to me quite by accident one night after spending the day with my grandchildren. It was a particularly good day and I was thinking about the joy those kids bring me. I found myself taking a few minutes to say “thank you” to God for the many blessings in my life. I think that’s when I finally realized my blessings far outweighed my troubles and I wanted to acknowledge where those blessings came from. We had a wonderful talk, God and me. It didn’t last long, there was no kneeling or reciting the rosary. I just talked and I know God heard because a calmness came over me. It’s amazing what a couple of minutes one-on-one with God can do. I don’t want to be a hypocrite and only show my face in church on Christmas and Easter. I’d rather just have my own personal relationship with God whenever the ’spirit’ moves me.
I converted to Catholicism when I was 32 years old. Going to confession for the first time was deeply meaningful and I felt reborn. The second time was not like the first; sadly, all the priest wanted to do was gossip about other people in the church. That, I realize, is an anomaly but it turned me off to confession. Perhaps some day when I know my time on earth is reaching an end I’ll want someone to absolve me of my sins but for now I don’t need an intermediary; I talk to God and I know He forgives me.
There may be some who no longer consider me a very good Catholic; that’s okay. I like to think I’m a good Christian and a decent person. There’s no denying I screw up big time. Frequently. I’m only human and I’m sure God is looking down at me saying “There she goes again!”. Guilty as charged. I’m also sure God understands and is always ready and willing to give me another chance.
I hope I never take advantage of God’s forgiveness; how selfish and ungrateful would that be? After all, look at the sacrifice He made for our undeserving souls. Pretty awesome, no? Thank God!
To all who observe this very sacred day I wish you a most blessed Good Friday. I’ll tell God you said “Hello” next time we chat.
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