I believe in… Jesus

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I am a Christian. It’s logical, therefore, that I believe in Jesus. Jesus is the ultimate intimacy of God in human form. God became one of us! The Incarnation. Taking on flesh. OUR human flesh. How awesome is that?

Incarnational spirituality, focusing on the mystery of the Incarnation, has always resonated with me. It calls us to “incarnate” our beliefs into our daily life. Put “flesh” on our words.

God became one of us to show us how to live. We, in turn, are called to become like God to others. We become God’s head, heart, hands and feet here on earth. We bring the love of God to others by how we live.

How are we called to live? Jesus shows us how, and the Gospels hold the key. The Gospel Jesus;

• Loves his enemies
• Hangs out and parties with the riffraff of society
• Feeds the hungry
• Heals the sick
• Forgives sinners
• Has no time for judgmental, self-righteous types
• Prays
• Prays some more
• Gives his life for others

Theology (Christology to be more precise) can often complicate this basic belief. In the early centuries of the church, much energy and reams of parchment were used up to clarify and codify each minute detail on the doctrine of the humanity and divinity of Jesus. The mental gymnastics continue today as doctrinal offices continue to correct us, and guide us in right and proper belief.

And yet, theological treatises seldom move hearts. Faith must be of the heart and not just the mind. At the heart of Christian faith is a person. The person of Jesus. Want to find out more about who Jesus is and what makes him tick? Want to love God and love neighbour as Jesus did?

Read the gospels.

Pray and ponder the gospels.

Live the gospels.

This is what I believe. What do you believe?

I believe in… God

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The existence and presence of God is the foundation of my belief and my spiritual life.

I believe God is the creator and sustainer of all that is.

I believe God is Love.

I believe the greatest commandment is to love God, and love each other.

I could stop right here. No need to struggle with head-scratching theology. No need to argue over how best to show our love for God. No need to fight over the logistics of loving each other.

Belief in a divine power unites humanity across the miles and across time.

I NEED to believe in a higher power. A LOVING power that brings order to the universe.

I cannot believe in a judgmental God, vengeful, ready to flood the earth because we’ve pissed God off.

Belief in God should unite us. Yes, we all come from diverse backgrounds. Diverse cultures. Our image of God may differ, but God is big enough to accommodate all.

BELIEF IN GOD SHOULD UNITE, NOT DIVIDE US

I believe that I can sit side by side with other God believers and raise prayers together and our prayers will be heard. I was inspired when Pope John Paul II did this for the first time in Assisi. It didn’t surprise me that traditionalists opposed this, thinking it somehow fouled the purity of the one and only Catholic church.

My belief has been formed within the Catholic faith, but I believe that no one has a monopoly on God.

This is my bare-bones belief. The starting point. The foundational stone. It requires much more exploration and pondering than a few words typed into a blog post. It’s but a start….

I believe in…cafeteria Catholicism

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I am a cafeteria Catholic. Yes, I “pick and choose” what I am willing to believe, put on the back burner what I do not yet understand, and reject what I cannot accept.

For some, being a cafeteria Catholic is synonymous with being a bad Catholic or no Catholic. These folks demand an “all or nothing” acceptance of the doctrines and traditions of the church. “All or nothing” Catholicism is often willing to sacrifice numbers for a smaller, leaner, purer church.

I do not believe in all or nothing Catholicism. This does not mean that I am against conservative, traditionalist forms of Catholic belief and practice. I am against an “all or nothing” attitude that demands unquestioning obedience to each and every teaching and tradition of the church, regardless of its place on the hierarchy of truths, and quickly denounces the doubter or the questioner.

Questions should not be feared, by either the questioner or church leaders.

Questioning your faith means your faith is important to you.

Questioning your faith requires hard work, an intimate wrestling with sometimes deeply grounded beliefs. It calls you to challenge the voices of authority, past and present, that you were taught to never challenge.

Questioning your faith is an act of courage, for you do not know where it will lead you.

Over the years, I have often been disappointed, disillusioned and disgusted with my church. I watched as cradle Catholics headed for the doors never to return. I straddled the doorway myself many times, one foot in and one foot ready to bolt.

When faith in God is tied up so closely to faith in the church, doubt in one is bound to flow into the other. Questioning of the church and her dysfunctional leadership led to a dark night of the soul for me. As I questioned the role of the church in my life, I questioned other beliefs.

And, yet, I’m still here. Why? Yes, there were beliefs that I let go, but there were other beliefs that were strengthened by the questioning.

At this stage in life, as a Mama of five and Grammy of six, I need to answer the question for myself.

What do I believe in?

What do I want pass on to my children and grand-children?

What do I have to offer the church and the world from my own faith lens?

I hope that you will ponder with me, and explore your own beliefs without fear of judgment from yourself or others.