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Author Topic: Can't say whether I believe  (Read 6935 times)
Alan
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piggysiggy
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« on: March 17, 2009, 07:33:15 AM »

Friends,

I am struggling with my faith.  That is, the part of my alleged faith where I believe everything in the Creed.  OK so maybe it's not a real struggle, but a simple conflict.

The problem I have is with the "form" of God in whom I, as a "practicing Catholic," have not completely embraced.  There is so much idolatry and church rules that seem to institute exactly what Christ was trying to destroy, that it is hard for me to say the Creed.  For my own "safety" I usually say the Creed in a near-monotone voice with just enough inflection to go along with the grammar but not so much to show that I am eager to be reciting this prayer.

Sometimes I wonder if I'd even go to Mass if it were not for my intent to raise the kids Catholic, and/or for the 40 bucks I get for playing the piano each week.

Religion seems to have burned me out.  I know what it is to believe I am led by the Holy Spirit, but for that "they" called me crazy and locked me up against my will.

When I read or hear about other Catholics' feelings about going to Mass and how exciting it is to be there for the transubstantiation and all that, I just kind of smile and say "that's great" because I think they would rather hear that from me rather than having me question them.  I don't know sometimes whether to honor them or pity them for their enthusiasm.  Meanwhile I don't want to throw cold water at them because, frankly, I don't know what I believe about anything involving religion.  That is, except I believe in the power of love and hope (faith I'm not so sure about) and that we should love others as we love ourselves -- but not as a ticket to heaven but rather as a lifestyle that will give feedback in this lifetime.

Another thing is this whole business about having everlasting life.  Many people seem to think they will somehow retain the identity of themselves, but I kind of doubt that.  When Jesus was questioned about the technical status of a (hypothetical?) woman who was married to different people on earth, and wondered whose wife she would be in heaven, Jesus answered that in heaven nobody is either married or single.  Well, I wonder, does that mean that God has fused us into some sort of group consciousness, or are our marriage vows only good for on this earth.

I had several things to say but I keep forgetting.  My attention span seems kind of limited these days, too.  Also, my computer keeps messing up so I think I'll leave it at this for a while.

You know what's strange?  When I was highly manic, religion and faith trumped everything.  Now, even as I type these things, I am not sad or miserable about these doubts.  They simply are.  My

Alan
« Last Edit: March 17, 2009, 07:49:07 AM by Alan » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2009, 07:55:11 AM »

Geez, my computer keeps messing up.  I am very easily distracted and now I can't even think of what point I wanted to say in the last post before the computer gleeched, so I'll leave it alone for now.  It's nearly time for me to go sling some pizzas around so I can work my three hours or so at minimum wage.

I'm not asking for pity; I am really fairly happy and getting better.

Whatever.  I guess I was looking for something profound with which to start a new topic, but now, especially after fighting the computer to get the last post up there, I am worn down again.

Please feel free to disregard this post and/or thread.  Hopefully later today I'll proofread it, and if it seems important enough I'll clean it up so that it makes more sense than I suspect it does now.

Alan
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« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2009, 12:13:43 PM »

First of all, I'd like to point out that you are NOT alone.
Many people struggle with this problem, even kids, including myself a few times.

Maybe my opinion might seem weak or unimportant with this particular dilemma,
but I'm still going to share it anyway.

The world around us teaches us so many different things than what the Church teaches us.
We're so wrapped up in all of our material goods that we take for granted the little things that matter the most.

I'm pretty positive God doesn't expect us to be dedicated and devoted to our Catholic faith 100% of every minute of every day.
We have a lot of questions that need to be answered, and some that will never be answered. And that's perfectly normal.

Sometimes when it is declared to be,  "Prayer time!" I groan. The world around me has caused me to become so selfish, that I find it difficult to take only a quick 5 minutes out of my day to speak to God. And I often say all the prayers without thinking, rushing as quickly as I can to get them done, so I can return to whatever I was doing. Sometimes it's so bad that I might as well have not even said a prayer at all.

When I asked my religion teacher, "How do we know that all of our faith is true? How do we know that it's the right thing to believe?" She simply answers with things like, "It's just right! It's what Jesus passed down to us. All of the other religions are broken off of our faith." But, I just find it so hard to believe sometimes. I hate to admit that I sometimes wish we didn't have to go to mass every Sunday because it takes precious time out of my pathetic life.

I keep trying to tell myself that our life on Earth doesn't matter. We are simply in a waiting room here on Earth. Our lives here are only meant to help define our place in the Kingdom of Heaven. I wonder why everybody always thinks life is just one big beauty contest. Everyone cares about the best car, the best house, the best cell phone, yada yada! So, sure it would be nice to have those things, but it doesn't matter. People constantly tell me that it DOES matter what people think, but I still believe that it doesn't. The only opinion I will ever care about is that of my Holy Father in Heaven.

In Heaven, we will be eternally happy. You shouldn't waste time worrying about what it will be like there. I'll admit that I have gotten pretty sad thinking that I wouldn't see my friends or my family there. But I can't be sure that that is even the truth. All I know is that I will be united with God, and He is the most important thing in the world, and more worthy of my love and praise than anybody else could ever be. You will be eternally happy with God. He is all that you need in this lifetime, the world around us doesn't even matter. In my religion class, we are currently studying the parables. The other day I read "The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus." Luke 16:19-31 Kind as I am, I'll post it for you, please read through it and try to define it's message!

"Now there was a certain rich man, and he was clothed in purple and fine linen, living in luxury every day. A certain beggar, named Lazarus, was laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table. Yes, even the dogs came and licked his sores. It happened that the beggar died, and that he was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died, and was buried. In Hades, he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far off, and Lazarus at his bosom.
He cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue! For I am in anguish in this flame. "But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that you, in your lifetime, received your good things, and Lazarus, in like manner, bad things. But now here he is comforted and you are in anguish. Besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, that those who want to pass from here to you are not able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’ He said, ‘I ask you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house; for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, so they won’t also come into this place of torment.’
"But Abraham said to him,
They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.’
"He said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’
"He said to him, ‘If they don’t listen to Moses and the prophets,
neither will they be persuaded if one rises from the dead.’"


Okay yes, I am steering a little off track from the things from my Dad's message, but that's okay, because it feels really good to finally be able to share how I feel about my faith.

My suggestions, Dad, are simple. You may have heard these kinds of things before, but please don't just let them pass you by. Take it to heart and consider these things.
I think what you need is some alone time with God. With no computer, no TV, no cell phone, no distractions. Just you, and Jesus.
I suggest that maybe you take a couple hours out of your week to go to the adoration chapel.
God's life revolves around each one of us. Can't we at least make a little time out of our schedule for Him in return?

A few weeks ago when we had a whole school adoration, and each class took about 20 minutes adoring the monstrance, I was shocked by how empowered I was with the light of Jesus Christ. Some meditative music was being played, and we just knelt there, face to face with God. At first, I assumed it would just be boring --- just another prayer thing, blah blah blah! But I was completely surprised when, afterward, I felt like 10 times closer to God.

I know you often like to take cat naps, so maybe when you're lying down for your next nap, try to do a centering prayer. Think of one word, like "Jesus" or something of that nature, and forget everything else. Focus your mind completely and entirely on that one word and what it means to you. It is a very relaxing way to fall asleep. Maybe you'll even feel better when you wake up, just a guess.  Tongue Take a couple minutes to say a short prayer. Try reciting it slowly, or writing it down on a peace of paper, verse by verse. Hesitate after each verse and think about what that verse really means, think about what you actually just prayed for. Prayers mean so much more when you don't rush, and when you actually know and care about what you're saying.

Maybe my suggestions have only made you grow even more weary, since you said, "Religion seems to have burned me out." Just know that being a Catholic doesn't mean you have to go out and join all of the Bible studies and special groups in our parish. Just take a few minutes out of your day, or an hour or two out of your week. Maybe this sounds cheesy, but maybe even get a journal and start writing in it about how you feel about your Catholic faith. Re-read through your entries often and come up with a few solutions for each of the problems your having with your religion. You could try writing out the Creed, verse by verse, and checking off each part that you believe, and keep checking off parts as time passes, and as you learn more about what you weren't sure about before.

I know it's difficult. Nobody said being a Catholic would be easy. We all get a little tired of it sometimes, and have our questioning moments. But in Heaven, our reward will be greater than anything we could ever imagine on the face of this Earth. As long as we keep our eyes on the prize, and don't give up on becoming closer to God, we will receive our reward in Heaven, and that will definitely be worth all of this struggle.

 Kiss Peaches

« Last Edit: March 20, 2009, 11:42:34 AM by peaches » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2009, 02:43:39 PM »

Wow...much to ponder here and I am going to have to come back as my mind is at work and out of "ponder mode" at the moment. Actually I was out of ponder mode for months and am only getting back into any kind of reflective mood at all over the last month or so.

I do know that I have had my struggles through the years with different things related to religion, and I still do, especially when I hang out too much at places where the "ultra-righteous" live.

I might have to put my collander on before thinking about this stuff too much though.....

John
 
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« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2009, 03:07:54 PM »

Hello Alan,

You mentioned having a problem with faith, and your difficulty in praying the creed.  There are many truths we believe that are professed in this prayer, so it is difficult to know what to address.  I did note that the afterlife seems to be a bit of a concern for you, as you mentioned the scripture about there being no spousal relationship in heaven. 

I was discussing this with my grandson last week, for he is expecting a child and was concerned because his beloved suffers from graves disease, and also two of his aunts both miscarried late in the pregnancy.  What happens to the baby?  Well, I do have three grandchildren in eternity and have thought about this a lot.  Will they be a 5-month old fetus?  And what of the 85-year old alzheimer patient?  Will he be bald and unable to recognize anything?  Not so.  I believe that when we "resurrect" from the dead, our bodies will have a perpetual glorified state of being, where sickness, disease, prematurity or aging will all be absent. 

It might help to consider the reason for marriage here on earth.  We are co-creators with God to perpetuate humanity, and God blesses us with a life-long companion to intimately share life with as we journey to our final home.  Once there, do you believe there is any reason to remain in a married state? ... especially since the communion of saints teaches us that we will all be in relationship, equally loving one another and joined together in one body with Christ. 

These are good thoughts to ponder at times, but since none of us have ever come back to tell what is on the other side, we can only believe that "eye has not seen" nor have we ever imagined the joy and blessedness prepared for us.  Maybe it's best just to quietly dismiss these heavy thoughts when they become too much for us, and leave our spirit in peace, simply trusting that whatever form, it will be magnificent, awesome, beyond our wildest dreams!

Alan, if you feel comfortable mentioning your specific doubts, some of us might be able to offer our insights on it.

God keep you in peace,
Carole

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« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2009, 09:59:55 PM »

Alan, if you feel comfortable mentioning your specific doubts, some of us might be able to offer our insights on it.
(Green in honor of St. Patty's Day!  Grin) Anyway, definitely agreed.

And also, Carole, I don't believe I have ever spoken to you,
so I assume you must have been here in the earlier days of Wordsfree.
Since I haven't met you, I'd like to formally welcome you to the WF community.
I'm Alan's daughter, Peaches. I hope you find these forums useful.  (:

 Kiss Peaches


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« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2009, 04:41:37 AM »

First of all, I'd like to point out that you are NOT alone.
Many people struggle with this problem, even kids, including myself a few times.

Maybe my opinion might seem weak or unimportant with this particular dilemma,
but I'm still going to share it anyway.

...

Okay yes, I am steering a little off track from the things from my Dad's message, but that's okay, because it feels really good to finally be able to share how I feel about my faith.

...

Dear Peaches,

That was a great response.  Smiley  When I started this thread it hadn't even occurred to me that my own kids would see it.  Well, duhhh... now the proverbial "cat" is out of the "bag."  I plan to reread your post a couple times so I can better understand what you are saying -- both about me and yourself.  Who knows?  Maybe this thread can help us both.  Cool

Love,
Dad
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« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2009, 06:02:33 AM »

Hello Alan,

You mentioned having a problem with faith, and your difficulty in praying the creed.  There are many truths we believe that are professed in this prayer, so it is difficult to know what to address.  I did note that the afterlife seems to be a bit of a concern for you, as you mentioned the scripture about there being no spousal relationship in heaven. 
Dear Carole,

Thank you for the reply.  As far as the Creed, I "say" it but don't really know if I'm "praying" it.  I feel that when in church around others who are saying it, I should join them in it.  Therefore, I pray it as if I had no doubts.  I am at peace doing so for several reasons, one of which is based on St. Paul's letter where he says he becomes like the people he's around, so that he may win them over.  I figure if I pray it in a manner resembling others I am helping to bring comfort to those who wish to find it through the Creed or other teachings that supposedly stem from the Creed.  This I take as a serious directive because I got cut down pretty badly once when I had done some Bible study and thought I knew more than the others (This was about 20 years ago) and I recited those parts of the Mass I agreed with fairly loudly, but stayed conspicuously silent for the parts I felt were wrong.  Well, there was St. Paul again to prune me; he wrote that if I think I know something better than other people, then I am the one who doesn't understand.  Oops.  Problem solved.  Roll Eyes

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I believe that when we "resurrect" from the dead, our bodies will have a perpetual glorified state of being, where sickness, disease, prematurity or aging will all be absent. 
This sounds very good, and I wish I could just believe it without doubts.
Quote
It might help to consider the reason for marriage here on earth.  We are co-creators with God to perpetuate humanity, and God blesses us with a life-long companion to intimately share life with as we journey to our final home.  Once there, do you believe there is any reason to remain in a married state? ... especially since the communion of saints teaches us that we will all be in relationship, equally loving one another and joined together in one body with Christ. 
That is a good question and a great scenario.  Based on what Christ said about not being given in marriage, etc., I think your view is entirely consistent with Church teachings.  Do I believe there is a reason to stay in a married state?  Well, if I were convinced there even is an afterlife, it also seems consistent to believe that this new glorified state transcends such worldly concerns such as who is married and who is not.  That said, if we get to keep our memories of ourselves here on earth, then when I die I will not feel complete without my "other half" or at least have some kind of special relationship with her.
Quote
These are good thoughts to ponder at times, but since none of us have ever come back to tell what is on the other side, we can only believe that "eye has not seen" nor have we ever imagined the joy and blessedness prepared for us.  Maybe it's best just to quietly dismiss these heavy thoughts when they become too much for us, and leave our spirit in peace, simply trusting that whatever form, it will be magnificent, awesome, beyond our wildest dreams!
This may seem strange, but in my "struggle" to solidify my own beliefs no longer causes me any perceivable anxiety.  The approach that so far works for me is to take those things that I have questions about and concoct a personal view that  works whether God and the afterlife are as depicted by many, or not.  For example, I couldn't care less about whether Christ was born of a virgin, or whether Mary and her mother or whomever was born free of original sin.  Christ, the way I understand Him, could have been just a very intelligent person who was way ahead of His time, and I still would look toward Him and the apostles for guidance because His teachings as captured in the Bible seem to me to be wonderful teachings about how to live life here on earth -- so no matter whether there is an afterlife I still benefit from studying and listening to Jesus' teachings.
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Alan, if you feel comfortable mentioning your specific doubts, some of us might be able to offer our insights on it.
Thank you.  I do feel comfortable with sharing it -- even though I now realize that my concerns are going straight to at least one of my kids (Monica, a.k.a. "5 of 6," a.k.a. "Peaches") has already seen my previous posts on this topic and like the feathers in the pillow (from one of Reen's references) my doubts are already scattered around irretrievably.  Tongue

Again, I have come to a mode of thinking where I can accept teachings or reject them, while still thinking my be role on earth is not to cause doubts in others, but to hear what they have to say and find out what that teaches me in "real life."  There are so many hypocrites and ignorant people in the Church, even in her leadership, that I can no longer take something as the Gospel truth just because they said it was true.  I've been lied to and manipulated enough in my life that I feel the image of God -- especially as a disciplinary figure -- could easily be distorted.  Why does this not worry me?  Because if God is really like the image the Church paints for me, then he knows my heart and knows that I want to do the right things and to have unconditional love for others regardless of my doubts.  Jesus said that the man who believes in Him will do greater works than these.  ("These" referring to miracles that Christ did for the primary reason of proving He is God.)

Another way I help myself to peace is to recognize that if other people believe the things they profess, religious teachings give a common platform in which to discuss topics such as unconditional love, with other people.  I can quote from scripture in search of helpful guidance, whether or not Jesus actually did the things we say He did.  My sense of peace can deal with Jesus whether He was really the God-man or whether he was an allegory.  I don't need to bring up these issues with a person seeking help at finding Biblical references that they need to assist with a problem.

Real or not, the Jesus of the Bible was clearly far ahead of anyone else of His time.  I find it sad that so many people have corrupted Jesus's message to take us right back to trying to follow a complex set of rules to justify themselves.  St. Paul and Jesus were very clear about NOT going around trying to follow a bunch of rules even when they might have been offensive to others.  One thing that seems to be missing from what Church leaders say from the pulpit is the freedom that comes with believing in Christ.  St. Paul said that he has great freedom to do whatever (regardless of Church rules) but that he doesn't exercise that freedom in the presence of those who would be offended by it.  One example of how I used that teaching was when St. Julie (my wife) was invited to lunch by a "fallen away" Catholic on a Friday during Lent, she was concerned about whether she would be served meat and have to reject it.  St. Paul specifically said that when people are invited for a meal, they should eat whatever is placed before them, without matters of conscience.  Seems to me if there is a meatless option that's fine, but if there isn't, one should follow the example of Paul in becoming like those he is around, so that he may win them over for Christ -- and not having regret such behavior.

I've typed so much I've kind of forgotten what points I *really* wanted to make.  Embarrassed  I think I'll leave this topic alone for a little while.  Undecided

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God keep you in peace,
Carole
... and also with you.

Alan
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« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2009, 07:24:23 AM »

I like the free spirit you write in Alan...
Don't always worry if you have the punch line, hog tied it, or what ever.
Your thoughts are well written, for me that is...It is in the sharing, not
the essay, that we read and follow your trains of thought.

Lana
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« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2009, 08:26:32 AM »

Quote from: Alan
That said, if we get to keep our memories of ourselves here on earth, then when I die I will not feel complete without my "other half" or at least have some kind of special relationship with her.

I also greatly look forward to having a "special" relationship with those I loved in my life.  God is very compassionate and merciful, full of love -- it gives me a lot of joy and hope to believe that He will unite us with them, above our deepest expectations.  But I cannot imagine a possibility for physical intimacy, as we know it  in our earthly phase, but the intimacy of covenant relationship.  Whether we had one or more husbands, each of them would have a special bond of spiritual intimacy with us, which transcends all human "knowing."   When you mentioned "St. Julie" I understood you as meaning she has passed from life?  If so, you have my deep sympathies, for I know the pain of loss you speak of.  We need to hold onto our hope that there will be no tears for us when we meet our beloved in heaven.

Much of your post, for which I'm grateful, leaves me unsure how to answer you.  At the very least, but probably the most effective assistance, is my prayer for your faith to become stronger.  There is one area that came to mind as I prayed, and perhaps it will speak to you in some way. 

Monday's reading at mass was the story of Naaman, the Syrian leper.  When I first heard it, my impression was that he had preconceived notions of how the prophet should perform, and these ideas prevented him from obeying the prophet's instruction in simple faith.  The beauty that impressed me was, in spite of his doubts, in spite of his unwillingness to heed the direction, he still obtained his healing.  A little servant girl intervened and helped him to see that his indignation was unreasonable, and what would harm would come if he did what the prophet asked of him?

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Naaman came with his horses and chariots
and stopped at the door of Elisha's house.
The prophet sent him the message:
"Go and wash seven times in the Jordan,
and your flesh will heal, and you will be clean."
But Naaman went away angry, saying,
"I thought that he would surely come out and stand there
to invoke the LORD his God,
and would move his hand over the spot,
and thus cure the leprosy.
Are not the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar,
better than all the waters of Israel? [i.e., the Jordan]
Could I not wash in them and be cleansed?"
With this, he turned about in anger and left.

http://www.nccbuscc.org/nab/readings/031609.shtml

In the end, Naaman's faith came to fullness after he obeyed the lawful prophet of God, saying "Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel." 

Keeping you in prayer,
Carole
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« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2009, 08:34:22 AM »

Quote from: Peaches
And also, Carole, I don't believe I have ever spoken to you,
so I assume you must have been here in the earlier days of Wordsfree.
Since I haven't met you, I'd like to formally welcome you to the WF community.
I'm Alan's daughter, Peaches. I hope you find these forums useful.

Thank you, Peaches, for your welcome.  I was not here during the early days, and just pop in from time to time.  Actually, forums in general have made me a little gunshy, because the written word is not always understood in the sincere context it is posted.  It is always with a bit of nervous tension when I write these days, because I do want very much to avoid a breach in relationships. 

Alan has a lovely daughter from all that I've read so far.  Your user-name suits you well!

Peace,
Carole

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« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2009, 07:54:06 AM »

Dear Carole,

Sorry I took so long to reply...


I also greatly look forward to having a "special" relationship with those I loved in my life.  God is very compassionate and merciful, full of love -- it gives me a lot of joy and hope to believe that He will unite us with them, above our deepest expectations.  But I cannot imagine a possibility for physical intimacy, as we know it  in our earthly phase, but the intimacy of covenant relationship.  Whether we had one or more husbands, each of them would have a special bond of spiritual intimacy with us, which transcends all human "knowing."   
That's a good way to look at it, I think, at least as a step toward explaining how heaven might be even better than a great marriage here on earth.   Smiley  It sounds like the type of intimacy we expect to have with God, not to mention with each other, that transcends friendship as we know it.  I just can't imagine in what form such friendships will take.  One thing about it is that it can't be like I am now because I believe that all my knowledge of earthly things are stored in my brain.  When my brain goes, consciousness as I know it goes too, so I wonder what it would be like to actually be propelled beyond all my earthly knowledge after this "temple" is "brought down."  Also I wonder sometimes whether we will be happy and at peace because there is so much to do in heaven (if the word "do" even applies) or if the peace comes through having no more worldly concerns, or whatever.  Huh At least I'm expecting the whole concept of "identity" to be changed as if it were a temporary condition that is a stepping stone or something.  Huh

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When you mentioned "St. Julie" I understood you as meaning she has passed from life?  If so, you have my deep sympathies, for I know the pain of loss you speak of.  We need to hold onto our hope that there will be no tears for us when we meet our beloved in heaven.
OMG.  I'm terribly sorry I gave that impression.  I call her "St. Julie" because she patiently deals with my nonsense.  She is alive and well, and we have been happily married now for over 22 years.   Cheesy

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Much of your post, for which I'm grateful, leaves me unsure how to answer you.  At the very least, but probably the most effective assistance, is my prayer for your faith to become stronger.  There is one area that came to mind as I prayed, and perhaps it will speak to you in some way.
Thank you.  At this point I'm not expecting any "solutions" to my dilemmas, but I partly just venting (there are several root causes that explain some parts of it) at this point.  You have chosen the strongest way you can help at this point -- by staying faithful yourself and by patiently reading and lovingly responding to my little tantrums and annoying questions.  Wink
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Monday's reading at mass was the story of Naaman, the Syrian leper.  When I first heard it, my impression was that he had preconceived notions of how the prophet should perform, and these ideas prevented him from obeying the prophet's instruction in simple faith.  The beauty that impressed me was, in spite of his doubts, in spite of his unwillingness to heed the direction, he still obtained his healing.  A little servant girl intervened and helped him to see that his indignation was unreasonable, and what would harm would come if he did what the prophet asked of him?

...

In the end, Naaman's faith came to fullness after he obeyed the lawful prophet of God, saying "Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel." 
I've never heard this particular reference, and I thank you for it.  I think I will reread it several times until it sinks in and then I will be able to comment more specifically.  Smiley

Alan
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« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2009, 08:29:26 AM »

First of all, I'd like to point out that you are NOT alone.
Many people struggle with this problem, even kids, including myself a few times.

Maybe my opinion might seem weak or unimportant with this particular dilemma,
but I'm still going to share it anyway.

The world around us teaches us so many different things than what the Church teaches us.
We're so wrapped up in all of our material goods that we take for granted the little things that matter the most.
Dear Monica,

You write so beautifully I really don't know where to start, other than by thanking you for your post.  I have a rough time reading your post to come up with a rebuttal because I keep getting all teary-eyed at it.  Cry

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I know it's difficult. Nobody said being a Catholic would be easy. We all get a little tired of it sometimes, and have our questioning moments. But in Heaven, our reward will be greater than anything we could ever imagine on the face of this Earth. As long as we keep our eyes on the prize, and don't give up on becoming closer to God, we will receive our reward in Heaven, and that will definitely be worth all of this struggle.
Your wisdom and your empathy are more mature than a lot of adults I know.  Keep up the good work!   Cheesy

Love,
Dad
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« Reply #13 on: March 20, 2009, 09:06:24 AM »

After giving some thought to this for a few days to figure out just where I stand in things, I finally came to a couple conclusions.

Most of you know that I was away from the Church for many years, blown away by the hypocrisy of so many laying burdens on people that they did not live themselves. And unable to see how Catholicism was making anyone a better person. It was only in finding a small handful of people actually trying to live the gospel while not condemning anyone else that I could bring myself to once again darken the doorway of the Church.

There have been times since then when my head has hurt in giving too much thought to the rules and regulations, the doctrines and dogmas, and listening to those who seem to think that we will get into heaven by having prayed in the "right" language or wore the right headcovering or received communion in the "proper" posture from the "right" minister. I allow myself to get dragged into some of those debates, mostly to help those of weaker faith come to a realization that what actually matters is how we love God and how we treat His people. All the rest of it is eating from the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil", which is exactly what got Adam and Eve kicked out of the Garden of Eden to begin with.

In the end, my theology ends up being pretty simple. "Love the Lord thy God with your whole heart and with your whole soul, and love your neighbor as yourself." How do you do that? "Whatsoever you did for the least of my brothers you did for me." You can't say you love the God you can't see while hating the neighbor you can. If you don't love the creation you can't love the Creator.

And how do I make my decisions when I'm not sure what the right thing is? The very ubiquitous "What would Jesus do?" I truly do find the "Word made flesh" to be the perfect example of how we are to live our lives and what it means to be truly human.

Are we going to get our bodies back? Or some glorified version of them? Are we going to know our loved ones in heaven? Will we "do" things there or just sing praises to God? Is the trinity really three persons or just three manifestatioins of one person? I don't have a clue though I know what the Church teaches. In the end, I don't really care. I just trust that God has something better in mind for me than I could ever conceive of myself and whatever that is has to be better than any of the alternatives.

All I can do is sing to God the words of Aaron Neville and Linda Ronstadt: "I don't know much, but I know I love you. That may be all there is to know."

John

BTW, I too was blown away by your post Peaches. There are an awful lot of "adults" out there who could learn a thing or two from you. Smiley

 
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« Reply #14 on: March 20, 2009, 10:30:24 AM »

Quote from: John
Most of you know that I was away from the Church for many years, blown away by the hypocrisy of so many laying burdens on people that they did not live themselves. And unable to see how Catholicism was making anyone a better person.

Agreed, John.  If we accept Catholicism as a system of rules without living the spirit of Christ, then it is a dogmatic action that gets us nowhere.  We simply reward ourselves with a satisfaction for having fulfilled the letter of the law.  That 'satisfaction' becomes our only reward, if you can call that a reward.  I understand that the handful who inspired a change of heart in you are known as leaven, a small minority who understand eternal Truth, and hopefully brings others to the Light.

As I prayed the "luminous mysteries" yesterday and meditated upon the first mystery, Jesus's baptism in the Jordan, I recalled the infinite witness from God, Our Father, "This is My Beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased."  We either believe God's Son, whom He sent, or not.  We either believe the Son established a Church, or not,  We either believe He endowed it with unfailing assurance of His guidance, or not.  The wonderful gift of free choice to accept or reject these Truths God reveals to us through Christ Jesus and the Church, is God's precious gift that is inviolable for every human being. 

I trust Alan is reading, and rather than post twice, this is perhaps my underlying meaning with respect to Naaman.  Simple faith is a choice that overrides doubts, if we know Whom we trust.  We accept the Prophet of God (Jesus) and all He taught, or not.  If we substitute our own reasoning above the purity of faith, it can truly hinder our highest good. 

What I suspected is that the enemy of our faith has managed to instill some sophistries, from whatever source, in the same manner as Christ was tempted.  He uses our very dogmas with a twisted slant that injects error and creates doubt.  Consequently, it is our call to strongly reject his empty promises and reinforce our understanding of truth as God has revealed it to us.

So often, whenever we encounter others who struggle, we are tempted to palliate their sufferings with excessive sympathies and an extraordinary patience that does not offer Truth, in the assumption that our counsel will make matters worse.  Were this true, then there would be no missionaries enduring hardship to bring the Good News.  They would just patiently await a time when God might choose to reveal the truth on His own initiative.  But we know that faith comes through 'hearing' ... and we have a sacred duty to love our brothers fully, and not whitewash the mistruths they happened to encounter along their way to God.  I struggle with this very much, since my entire family is away from God, and I always worry about being a preachy pain in their posterior.  My antennae are always alert to distinguish sincere questioning from merely mental musings. 

Carole

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« Reply #15 on: March 20, 2009, 10:41:25 AM »

Dear Alan,

Thanks for letting me know about St. Julie.  What a comfort to know that she is still your loving wife of so many years.  Funny how words suggest different meanings to us, especially when we don't know the background.  I happened to need some grout this week, and felt certain that I needed 'sanded' grout.  My mind reasoned that 'unsanded' grout did not have fine gritted sand and was probably more porous like concrete.  Duh!  After speaking with the salesman, he convinced me I understood wrong - that 'unsanded' does not have any grit whatsoever and is more perfectly smooth than the 'sanded.'  So much for my reasoning!   Roll Eyes  I almost bought the wrong stuff, and it would not have worked for ceramic tiles I had chosen.

I'm so glad you wrote back, because I worried that maybe I had unintentionally offended you.  As for the root reasons behind your dilemma, I admit I don't know you well, so if you would rather not share, we will still support you, asking that God speak to your heart and bring you to a good resolution for your doubts. 

Carole
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« Reply #16 on: March 21, 2009, 03:32:54 AM »

Dear Carole,

So much for my reasoning!   Roll Eyes  I almost bought the wrong stuff, and it would not have worked for ceramic tiles I had chosen.
I'm glad you found a salesman who both knew the difference and helped you to the right mixture the first time.  Smiley
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I'm so glad you wrote back, because I worried that maybe I had unintentionally offended you.
Nothing to worry about here.  It would take quite a bit to offend me these days; I'm not worried much about whatever someone says to me or about me because I enjoy hearing feedback.  Even if it a comment is intentionally insulting, I typically ask myself what I can learn or if I can improve something about myself having heard it!  Wink  Sometime back I recognized that people pointing out my apparent faults can help me at least with my presentation, and maybe even expose some "stinkin' thinkin'" that I can weed out of my life.  The person who points this out to me one way or another (even with anger on their part) does me good.  The person who lets me walk around in ignorance that there is egg on my face that everybody except me can see (hear, smell, etc), is not acting like a true friend.

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  As for the root reasons behind your dilemma, I admit I don't know you well, so if you would rather not share, we will still support you, asking that God speak to your heart and bring you to a good resolution for your doubts. 
That's very nice to hear.  Our little community here is small, but we all have each other's back.  As for the root reasons, if I can recall anything that my friends here (including you) might be able to help with, I feel confident about posting it here.  If you have an issue you think might be sensitive, feel free to send me a PM and we'll keep it confidential if the situation warrants it.  Cool

The only problem I've been having lately is because of my relatively slow pace of reading.  Sometimes I just can't keep up, or am away for days or even weeks at a time (months at a time with the last major depression), and I miss a lot of the really good juicy dialog that goes on here.  That's the main reason I gave ncjohn administrator privileges; he has been here through my ups and downs and takes over for me when I am out -- such as the last year-long depression I had.  Undecided

Alan
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« Reply #17 on: March 21, 2009, 09:02:56 AM »

Hi Alan,

I shared some thoughts on your other post before answering this one.  It brings sunshine to be called a friend. 

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Nothing to worry about here.  It would take quite a bit to offend me these days; I'm not worried much about whatever someone says to me or about me because I enjoy hearing feedback.

I promise not to let you walk around with egg on your face.  That was a very good analogy.

Carole
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« Reply #18 on: April 23, 2009, 05:10:36 AM »

Alan,

The Truth must have always been, or it would not be the Truth.

I'll share this from a Carthusian publication: "We make an idea of God that attracts us on the basis of some passing experience, which He may perhaps have given us, according to our capacity to receive, of the sweetness of His love. But this idea - like all our other ideas - must be transcended, until the day comes when we begin to glimpse something of the true God."

You're in good company.

And this about everlasting life! Someone inside you knows that you (Alan) were NOT. That same One knows that, for now, you ARE (or you appear to be). Figure out who it is that knows that you were not, and now knows that you ARE. Just as there can be no cloud without a sky, there can be no Alan without that ever-present, timeless background. Can Alan say he was not? No. He knows only that he IS. But yet you say that there was a time when you were NOT. Who is this and how are you able to say it?

If God is omnipresent, then why do you place Him outside of yourself? Who was there prior to Alan on whom this sense of "I Am" appeared?



Mike





Friends,

I am struggling with my faith.  That is, the part of my alleged faith where I believe everything in the Creed.  OK so maybe it's not a real struggle, but a simple conflict.

The problem I have is with the "form" of God in whom I, as a "practicing Catholic," have not completely embraced.  There is so much idolatry and church rules that seem to institute exactly what Christ was trying to destroy, that it is hard for me to say the Creed.  For my own "safety" I usually say the Creed in a near-monotone voice with just enough inflection to go along with the grammar but not so much to show that I am eager to be reciting this prayer.

Sometimes I wonder if I'd even go to Mass if it were not for my intent to raise the kids Catholic, and/or for the 40 bucks I get for playing the piano each week.

Religion seems to have burned me out.  I know what it is to believe I am led by the Holy Spirit, but for that "they" called me crazy and locked me up against my will.

When I read or hear about other Catholics' feelings about going to Mass and how exciting it is to be there for the transubstantiation and all that, I just kind of smile and say "that's great" because I think they would rather hear that from me rather than having me question them.  I don't know sometimes whether to honor them or pity them for their enthusiasm.  Meanwhile I don't want to throw cold water at them because, frankly, I don't know what I believe about anything involving religion.  That is, except I believe in the power of love and hope (faith I'm not so sure about) and that we should love others as we love ourselves -- but not as a ticket to heaven but rather as a lifestyle that will give feedback in this lifetime.

Another thing is this whole business about having everlasting life.  Many people seem to think they will somehow retain the identity of themselves, but I kind of doubt that.  When Jesus was questioned about the technical status of a (hypothetical?) woman who was married to different people on earth, and wondered whose wife she would be in heaven, Jesus answered that in heaven nobody is either married or single.  Well, I wonder, does that mean that God has fused us into some sort of group consciousness, or are our marriage vows only good for on this earth.

I had several things to say but I keep forgetting.  My attention span seems kind of limited these days, too.  Also, my computer keeps messing up so I think I'll leave it at this for a while.

You know what's strange?  When I was highly manic, religion and faith trumped everything.  Now, even as I type these things, I am not sad or miserable about these doubts.  They simply are.  My

Alan
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« Reply #19 on: April 23, 2009, 05:22:55 AM »

And if all else fails and we get nothing out of the Church except that God is omnipresent, we'll still be OK. Then if there such a thing as hell and we go there, relax. God is there, too! Wink


Mike
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