Let me start by saying that I only converted to Catholicism 8 years ago, and even then it was more of a tradition than anything else. My grandmother was born from Irish immigrants, and for those who don’t know, they are wicked Catholic…. at least the good ones are. My grandfather was Protestant, but he went out for cigarettes when my dad was a kid and I never met him.
My dad was raised in Catholic school, so he hated religion, nuns, rulers…. discipline… pretty much everything about it. My mom was one of those Protestants that I had mentioned and she went bonkers after I was born. I’m not saying that to be hyperbolic, she was actually diagnosed with schizophrenia. She talked a lot about God and how God used to tell her things, so my relationship with God was a little strained as a child.
My father did understand the importance of the Bible and its teaching. He understood its place in our society and the laws, rules and ethics that it taught. He didn’t talk to me about religion per say, but he read to me from the children’s’ Bible when I was small. I mostly have memories of snuggling on the couch with him and not understanding why Joseph’s brothers were so horrible. This was a very important memory to me though because in general my father didn’t read to me, so the fact that he took the time to do that with this book meant it must have been important.
I didn’t judge people who were religious. In fact my dad used to encourage me to check out different religions and see if any of them fit. I understood that my problems with religion itself had more to do with my mother and her psychosis than the religion itself, but for a long time people who talked about Jesus really freaked me out. When it was time to baptize my son I knew that I wanted him to be Catholic like my grandmother, who had passed away at that point. I had been baptized myself as a baby, but never any other formal religious teaching.
When I thought about which school in my area that I wanted my son to go to; I knew that I didn’t want him to go to the local public school where some of my friends taught and complained about how dangerous it was. I knew that I wanted him to go to the local Catholic school. Again, at this point religion was just background. As a person who studied history in college and has a general obsession with it and archeology (I blame Indiana Jones) I spent a lot of time watching documentaries and reading things about the history of the Bible and the archeological proof that has been discovered that backed up many of the stories. In general I was always fascinated by the time period, but never put a lot of effort in learning about the text itself. God was more of an idea from the past that helped other people, but didn’t really seem needed today.
Then my dad died, and I felt comfort in the fact that there was an afterlife and that I would see him again one day. Then his long-term girlfriend died, and I was glad that at least they were together. Then my dog died, and I thought that he could keep them company for the decades that it would be until we would reunite. Don’t get me wrong, I was devastated, but knowing that God is out there, knowing that my dad could look down on us and see my son and the wonderful little boy that he was becoming made that horrible year more bearable.
The following year my son started at the Catholic school and I became heavily involved. I volunteered whenever I could, and decided that if he was going there it would be best if we went to church on Sunday, especially the church that was attached to the school. I realized how much I wanted my son to have faith. I wanted him to feel comforted as much as I do.
This was 7 years ago. My son is now 10 and we still attend church every Sunday. He belongs to the choir, I teach a CCD class, and he attends his own. He has gotten his 1st communion, and we volunteer when we can. I love joining the Bible study classes. Our faith has become a huge part of our life. I don’t have a lot of time to read, but I listen to the Bible on Audible, and I love listening to commentary from all kinds of people about how they interpret The Word, and the stories being portrayed.
I have begun to realize how amazing The Bible actually is. How much was wisdom was articulated in that book that people today are still figuring out. Knowing that this book came from a time when a lot of people thought the sun traveled around the earth by a man pulling a chariot. This book talks about how everyone is created in Gods image and therefore just as important as anyone else. It talks about how, even though slavery is a norm at this time for many reasons, slaves must still be treated as fellow humans and given all the rights thereof. It talks about how children should honor their fathers as much as their mothers and how parents don’t have the right to kill their children even id they have done something wrong. It talks about how to live a successful life in any time.
The Israelites, or Jews as they are known today, have been laughed at, persecuted, and blamed for all the wrongs of the world, because, it seems no matter what wrong happens in the world they still manage to thrive. People think this is because they are “obviously stealing from everyone else” when in reality it is because they are working hard and taking care of each other as the Bible told them to.
A lot of Christians today want to discount the Old Testament, which I don’t understand. They seem to forget that Jesus was Jewish and specifically said that he was there in accordance with the law. In Matthew he said…
17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.
18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
There are a lot of people today who hate the fact that God asks things of us. They hate the fact that God lets bad things happen to us. They feel that God should be there personal valet and should be there to do their bidding, and that is the only way that God can prove himself.
I know so many people who either don’t believe or they hate God because bad things have happened to them, or because bad things happen in general. I know so many people who think they are getting punished by God because they haven’t been following His laws and their life is not the way they wish it to be. I know so many people who think that they have screwed up too much that God could never forgive them. My response is to that is that God is Our Father who art in Heaven. As our father He gives us His rules. He lets us know the best way to live a good life, and the things that we should concentrate on to get said life. What He doesn’t do is prevent us from experiencing our consequences.
Maybe I understand this because I was raised by a single dad. I didn’t have the mom around to coddle me, and protect me from myself. If I chose to climb a tree too high and fell out I was also the one who had an ice pack on my ankle later. If I chose to ran through the woods for the umpteenth time in shorts that summer then I was the one sitting out of the pool covered in pink stuff while still itching. My dad told me not to do things. He told me how to behave, but ultimately it was my decision and I had to deal with it. Occasionally he would see that I got in over my head and help me out, but that was few and far between.
The one thing he always did, no matter how much my brother and I screwed up. The one thing I never had to worry about, was that he loved us. He forgave us, and he gave us the opportunity to make better choices in the future. The reason that I believe in God is because I believed in my father. I believed in a relationship that is so much stronger than one could imagine. Now that I am a mother I know how much I love my son. I know that there is nothing he could do to make me not love him, but knowing that his father died of a drug overdose, I know that sometimes the ones you love can make choices that aren’t safe, and aren’t good to be around.
The reason that I believe in God is because God made us in His image. God made us knowing that we would screw up, and that life would be hard sometimes, but God made us because He knew that it would be worth it in the end. Just like my dad made me and just like I made my son. So many people today don’t want to have children because its expensive, or climate change, or some other material issue…. but for those of us who believe in God and know how much bigger life really is. We know that God made us, because it’s worth it. Love always is.