I am by no means a bible hugging yogi (not that that is a bad thing). But I do have faith. I have had it as long as I can remember. It has been shaken at times over the past 20 years, but it has remained my most constant friend and ally through my mental health journey and through life.
I was raised a Roman Catholic. I attended church every Sunday with all my family and went to a Catholic school. As a very small person I had a great affinity with God. I said my prayers and enjoyed going to mass; the community, the people, the prayers. I felt a connection to my church and to God.
As Roman Catholics we are raised to believe in God but also to love and have reverence for the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus. The ‘Hail Mary’ was always my favourite prayer and remains so to this day. As years passed I made my Holy Communion and Confirmation. I still attended mass on a Sunday. But I got to my teens and it just wasn’t cool to be going to church every Sunday. It wasnt cool to love God. Even in those days, the number of people who had a faith and a church was limited. So, slowly, I stopped going to mass on a regular basis. I would ‘get out of it’ as often as I could. God was always with me, but I didn’t want to attend church every week and look like some nerd. I succumbed to pier pressure, and by this time my parents did not push us to go except on important church calendar events such as Easter and Christmas.
As a teenager, I don’t recall paying much attention to my faith. I said my nightly prayers and just got on with living my life. I went to sixth form college at 16 and this too was a Catholic college. I met new friends and attended the compulsory RE classes. I only recall that apart from my love of God and the Virgin Mother, my faith and the institution that it was, was not doing much for me. I remember my RE teacher well though. She was an amazing, passionate and good hearted woman. She had a passion for her faith and I remember us all being captivated by her passion. We went on retreat with her and there were times that she brought my love of my faith back.
When I lost my grandmother suddenly at 18, I remember feeling at a complete loss. Wondering where she had gone and how would I never see her again? For several years I felt that loss. I just couldn’t get my head around life and death. What did it all mean? I had been brought up with a faith that said that God loves us and when we die we go to heaven. But my logical brain just didn’t feel this belief had enough credence. I wanted something concrete that said we would all be together again. I continued to pray, but I didn’t go to church any more.
It was around this time that there was a number of important investigations into the Catholic Church and its priests. Suddenly there was a lot of press attention. Now I’m not one for hype and I still have my own opinion. But there was so much going on, that I had to read more. There was a feeling of uncertainty that I had that the Catholic faith was in fact quite corrupt and built solely on monetary gain. I remember talking to my mum and grandfather about these findings, and they both suggested that I look more at the good people within the Faith and the good that came from the church. I took this on board.
Over time I continued to pray and have a love for my God. But the faith I had been raised in, left too many immoral questions for me. Too much secular secrecy, too much attention paid to ‘the rules’ of Catholicism. These ‘rules’ left me cold. How could the God that I believed in not love homosexuals? How could a child be born with sin? How could the God that I believe in intend that Catholic priests and nuns live a life alone; no family or life partner, to show their dedication to the faith. Too many questions unanswered. There must be something else?
It was in my late 20’s that I read Sylvia Browne’s book – The other side and back. This changed everything for me. Sylvia was a psychic medium. She was also a Catholic. Her book touched me so much that at last I felt that I had a real understanding of our purpose here, life’s purpose and what happens to us when we pass over. The thought of ‘Going home’ at the end of my life filled me with a strength and courage that this life is just a temporary journey. That we are here for a purpose; to live and experience life for God with God. No matter how hard it is, what ever it throws at us, that we can have the strength of faith that it will all pass and that it is all for a reason.
From Sylvia’s book I went on to read more. Sylvia was a self confessed gnostic. This means that her faith was made of parts of many other faiths. I too have now taken that approach. I love the God that I was brought up to love. I love the Virgin Mother. I love and believe in a Mother God. I love meditation from the Buddists, I love yoga from the Yogi’s and so on. Basically, I have taken all the parts of faith, from the so many that there are, and made my own faith. One where the God that I believe in has an unconditional love for all people. I believe that every person whether good or bad has a purpose in this world, even if its a catalyst to good. I believe that doing good brings good. I believe in Karma. I believe that this journey we take is for the greater good, that there is no option to check out, no matter how hard it gets. But should you be so desperate to check out, then the God I believe in will love you just as much when you arrive on the other side. I believe that we should love one another. I believe that you should never judge another, we have no way of knowing the journey they are on. I believe that sometimes things happen to us and we have no way of knowing how to move forward. I believe that if you ‘believe’ hard enough, your true purpose will become clear.
Faith is a very personal thing. It may be the backbone of all that a person is. It certainly is my backbone. Even at times when there may be a question over something that I truly believe in. If I pray and believe for long enough, the answer always comes. This brings me peace that is immeasurable.
Today I am still a Catholic of sorts. I attend church occasionally. I like to touch base with God in a formal environment from time to time. I believe that the majority of people in the Catholic faith are good people. I am all that I am because of the Catholic faith. It was my start. My family and friends are bound together because of this faith. I still have my own beliefs over much of what the Catholic faith suggests is ‘right’ but I’m happy to keep my own counsel on these issues in the hope that all the good well outweighs the bad. To be part of a community of people is the best feeling. Most people are trying to get through life the best way they can, and the Catholic church and many other churches and religions help those in need in ways that the average parishioner has no way of knowing. Their contribution surely is so much better than no contribution at all. So in this way, I suppose God still works through the good of the church.
Probably the most significant belief I now have, is that we pass over to a better place. We go ‘home’. Where all our loved ones who have passed over are there waiting. I personally cant wait for the reunion party in the sky. But whilst I wait, I will keep the faith and do good where ever and however I can.
I hope I have inspired you to think about faith. I accept it is not for everyone. My paternal grandfather believed that when we die, that is it, we push up flowers. But as my dad said in his eulogy: ‘My dad did not believe in God, but I know God believed in him. He was the best of men.’
Peace be with you. Always K xxx