40 Days and 40 Nights.

Spirituality is very important to me.

I’m not easy to identify, one others would definitely evaluate, question then still wonder – who is she? What religion does she subscribe to?

An eclectic mix of all may answer your question – a baptized Catholic who practices a bit of Buddhism, participates in the Hava Nagila, believes in Confucian principles as a recipe for living and analyzes the Bible, born again  every day.

Yet no matter what I think or feel, I could never find a valid reason (or desire) to formally lose my religion – who is singing R.E.M.  right now, my 80s pals?

I’ve experienced other religions and attended their services which taught me that there is value in all of them.

Truth be told, I don’t agree with much of Catholicism.  I believe in being a good person and I believe in the 10 Commandments.

But some of the other rules and beliefs?

Forgive me though, because I don’t believe any human – even the Pope – is infallible.  We are all sinners. Every one of us.  

Pre-martial sex is natural for many and not always for procreation only. Discretion, maturity and responsibility are God given attributes for those who choose to participate in relations outside of marriage or for those inspired by hedonistic, lustful desires.  One should act in accordance with his/her own conscience.

The February 19th Gospel needed much explanation, as it sounded like instructions for tolerating unhealthy relationships and abuse. At what point do we say no?

No, I am not looking the other way or allowing you to walk all over me each and every day, again.  I may forgive, but in reality I accept and move on, not necessarily with that person still in my life.

I am not Jesus, even if I do strive to live in the likeness of his Him.

For years, I attended Mass regularly, returning after a hiatus. It was a calling, a desire, something I couldn’t explain yet knew intuitively I was invited to do.

My parents never forced me to attend services growing up, but I went to parochial school – grammar and high, as well as some years at a Jesuit college. I also taught CCD for several years. Kindergarten – because I was qualified. 😉  Birthday parties for Jesus on December 25 were everyone’s favorite!  

Let it be known that I failed morality class in high school, had to retake it, because I questioned and disputed a plethora of teachings and beliefs – that we were told to take on faith.

Faith? Believe in? Who, what, where why, when, how?

I failed for that. Yet I was sitting next to a teenage soon-to-be-mom and we were all fully aware of a student who was having an affair with the late – and married – teacher of that class.  It wasn’t a rumor – it was a fact.

The two eventually married when he’d left his first wife and had children of their own. I’m still scratching my head at the hypocrisy and suppression of such acts.

Nothing to see here. Let’s pray for them.

I see it and get it, but don’t condone it. I may have, had they been honest and open about it all.  That’s asking for a lot, though.

But I am a baptized Catholic with a very deep faith in God – not necessarily humanity.

When I cross the threshold of a Church, I am suddenly overcome with a sense of calm, peace and pleasure.

A feeling of subtle euphoria passes through me. I quiet my mind. I tap into my soul. I lift up my heart not only to the Lord – but to life.

To those in need. To those struggling. To those seeking support.

To my family, friends and acquaintances. To strangers, foes and enemies.

My aim is to be a better version of myself every day.

I try. I fail. Yet I never give up. I will always rise again to face another day, to try again.

Self-righteousness is not religion. It is self-righteousness.

Judgment is not religion. It is judgment.

Religion is how we live our life every day.

Religion is waking with a grateful heart then setting out to make a difference in the lives of all we come into contact that day.

Religion is listening and understanding.

Religion is not judgment, but compassion.

Religion is love – pure love filled with honesty, candor and truth.

Even when the truth is ugly. It’s real.  It’s to be respected and admired because it takes courage and strength to be honest.  

I took an unexpected break from Mass attendance. There are so many reasons why – yet I don’t feel guilt.

What I do feel is elation for having returned.

I am excited, hopeful and driven.

I crave peace. I long for connection. I want to find purpose, because I often lose my way.

And I am again reminded of how engaged I am, how present, and how much I’ve grown as a person.

I’d a habit of getting ticked off and walking away from things that didn’t meet my ideals – biting off my own nose to spite my face, as the saying goes.

Done. Finished. Whatever.

When I look back, those were immature and impulsive – not to mention poor – decisions on more than one occasion.

Today, I’m thrilled to be back in God’s home, even if he is with me every day. And I want to make some changes over the next 40 days.

I’m selfishly using Lent to improve. I’m selfishly adding goodness to my life – maybe a sacrifice in some ways, but more of an effort.

I’ve always believed in making a change, adding something positive to one’s life, for lent – not giving up sweets or Facebook.  

Sacrifice can be easy. Commitment – not so much.

Whether Christian, Catholic or other, how can you make a difference this Lenten season? What will you sacrifice, offer or commit to?

I’m on the brink of some life altering decisions.

May Lent offer me the focus and intent to figure out my direction.

That goes for you, too.

Amen.

 

 

 

 

Author: E.M. Murphy

A voracious writer, lifetime learner and eternal seeker who aims to open minds and hearts. Armed with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a NASM Certified Behavior Change Specialist, humanity and humor is at the heart of my writing, reminding us that the key to success will always start with a genuine concern for others while making sure to be true to our authentic selves.

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