“I will no longer listen to priests and bishops telling me what to do!”
I nodded in enthusiastic agreement with my friend. He spoke for many of us; baby-boomers who are serious about our faith lives, but have become more and more disillusioned with the institutional church.
I am not a lazy, apathetic catholic. I care about my faith life, sometimes too much. My faith has been a source of both joy and pain; moments of soaring inspiration and times of dark doubt and anger.
I’m not a theologian or academic, but I’m well-read. A decent understanding of doctrine and church history feeds my mind. Inspirational reading, music, prayer, lively conversations and faith-sharing nourish my heart and soul.
I used to reside in the front pews of my church. Energetically involved. Happy to be present.
Disillusionment and anger led me to the back pews, where the view was much different. I eventually snuck out the door for awhile. The view from the other side of the church doors was eye-opening. Exile time forces you to ponder and judge what has been, and vision for what could be.
Many years have now come and gone. Today, I have an imperfect attendance record on Sundays. When I do go, I battle boredom. My impatient, 59 year old self struggles to sit patiently. To listen. To pray. To stop looking at my watch. If it wasn’t for my faithful hubby, I’d probably spend every Sunday morning with a good book and second pot of coffee.
Today, it’s popular to identify oneself as “spiritual, not religious”. I’ve been pondering this term a lot, recently. Is this what I am? Who I am becoming? And yet…
My spirituality is catholic in its roots, and in its foundation. Catholic with a small “c”, focusing on the “whole” rather than obsessive details and squabbles that too often overshadow the simple message at the core of our belief.
- We believe in the Incarnation, that God became one of us so that we could become more like God – not in power, but in loving like God Loves.
- We recognize God’s presence in the every-day and the every-time.
- We listen for God’s voice in silence, prayer, scripture or the wisdom of community.
- We seek justice, peace and the integrity of creation in all we do.
I’m fascinated by the many diverse paths and experiences that seek the same goals as we do – to love God and love our neighbours. It is sheer arrogance to believe that the path we have chosen is the one and only true path to salvation.
Yes, at this stage in my life, I am focused more on spirituality and less on religion in its institutional form. Like my friend, obligation and voices of authority no longer hold sway over me. And, yet, my spirituality remains catholic. I remain catholic.