I try not to talk too much about religion or politics on my blog. First off, I loathe confrontation and will avoid it at all costs. Second, I never want to come off as preachy or disrespectful because I truly am open-minded and welcome differing opinions and beliefs. Lastly, I am very moderate in many of my beliefs so I see both sides and tend to go back and forth which can be hard to navigate. When all is said and done, I believe in freedom of choice and equal rights. My current religious views have taken decades to form and this is just a small part of my story. I cannot tell you where I will be in 5-10 years, but I would love to share where I am now.
Six years ago I was baptized at Holy Angels Catholic Church. It was a beautiful and emotional day. I wept so hard my contacts fell into the Baptismal font. I was pretty much blind for the rest of the service.
For years prior I had been on a spiritual journey. I wanted my kids to grow up in church but I never seemed to find a denomination or church I clicked with. My view of God up until this point was fire and brimstone. I had zero understanding of God’s grace and was practically slamming my head into a wall trying to figure out The Bible, of course not taking into account that this text is thousands of years old, written in a completely different era. I was feeling such shame about questioning things I had been told my whole life until I realized that faith SHOULD be a journey. We should be asking questions and praying for clarity. My faith isn’t a dictatorship, it’s a relationship between me and God, no one else.
The minute I stepped into the doors of Holy Angels I felt I was home. At first, I was just exploring Catholicism because my husband grew up Catholic so I figured I’d give it a try. As soon as I started going to Holy Angels, most of my Catholic stereotypes were shattered. When I met with the priest at the time, Fr. Dan, to ask my set of lengthy questions, I instantly felt at ease and knew this church had something special. While going through RCIA, I was constantly amazed at all the types of Catholics sitting in the pews. It wasn’t just the straight-laced Christians, perfectly polished and ready for the Lord. It was rather refreshing, to say the least. Holy Angels has a sign outside their doors like many churches do that reads, “Everyone is welcome here.” Fr. Max often begins a Sunday mass asking if there are any visitors. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you look like, who you love, where you come from, or what your religious beliefs are, he will make sure you know that you ARE indeed welcome here. Joining the Holy Angels MOMS group further proved this church was for me and my family. These were the kind of Christian moms I was searching for, moms who were not filled with holier-than-thou beliefs. When I confessed that I wasn’t sure I was really “Catholic,” they hugged me and accepted me the same. They reassured me that it was okay, they were so glad I was there. When I would bring up differing viewpoints, they didn’t shut me down with bible verses; instead they appreciated me bringing my beliefs and convictions to the table. I used to refer to myself as a Catholic misfit, and while that may be true to some degree, I definitely don’t feel that way when I walk through the doors of Holy Angels. Many people of faith are in the churches, the temples, the synagogues, never missing a day of worship. But does that automatically make them more faithful or more holy? Going to church isn’t your ticket into heaven. It doesn’t make you better than your neighbor. To me, the church is about community and leaving a little better and stronger than when you came in. I go to church often but I’ll admit, I miss some Sundays. I highly doubt God is sitting on some throne with a gavel condemning me to hell because I missed a church service.
My connection with God is stronger than ever. My heart is so full of the spirit and while I may not fit neatly and perfectly into any one denomination, God knows my heart and my intentions. He knows my strengths, my weaknesses, and my worries. He cares way more about how I treat others than how many sins and slip-ups I make in a day. He cares that I call upon Him (or Her, just sayin’) in good times and in bad. Maybe I’m not the poster child for Catholicism and while I don’t share all the same viewpoints and beliefs, I am still very much loved and accepted here. My daughter is receiving her First Communion next week and I am so grateful she gets to receive the gift of Jesus’ UNCONDITIONAL love. We talk a lot about Jesus in our home because I think that’s where it all begins. We also take time to discuss and acknowledge other religions too as the city we live in is very diverse. Both of my kids have friends of different faiths and I can’t think of anything more beautiful than learning, loving, and being more than just tolerant of our neighbors, but supportive.
I hope if anything I am an example that not every Christian gossips in the pews. Not every Christian is a judgmental Judy. Not every Christian is homophobic. The list goes on. Thank you Holy Angels for loving me and taking me in when I was just about ready to throw in the towel. Thank you for meeting me exactly where I was all those years ago. That, to me, is what Christianity is all about. It’s okay that we don’t all think the same and believe the same. I’m just so excited to see where my faith journey takes me!