I’m Catholic—-Wait, I’m Lutheran—-Wait!

Chapter Three: I Am The Sum of My Ancestors

I grew up in a staunch Catholic family, kind of. One part of my family, my mother’s side, was Catholic. My dad was United Brethren which then merged with the Methodist Church in my community. My dad’s family had Baptist, Assembly of God and even Jehovah Witnesses on his side.

I remember the first time I met a Jehovah Witness cousin from California. I was a teen and I was a little scared from what I had been taught from my Catholic roots but she was just like me and religion didn’t stand in the way of our friendship. I couldn’t figure out why I should be scared of her because she was from another religion that was not accepted in our Southern Minnesota culture.

I was taught the Catholic Church was the one true church and we were only ones that would get into heaven. I went to a strict Catholic School and having a sensitive spirit I was terrified of the nuns except maybe one or two. Their punishments could be hurtful. And I was terrified of sin and the repercussions. Which we still should be now. Sin is not exclusive to Catholics.

Although confession I thought was interesting. We were taught me to say “Bless me father for I have sinned” and then recite how many times we lied or disobeyed etc. from our last confession and then the Priest could give us absolution. I always guessed the number of times I did something because who kept count and as a child who could remember. And I never felt any better after I left the confessional. I always worried when I went to communion that I maybe shouldn’t go because I left something out. We also had to fast before communion and it was hard to make sure I didn’t eat the specified number of time before communion and what would people think if you didn’t go to communion?

It was also a sin to not go to church on Sundays so unless I was sick, Sunday Church was a weekly occasion along with Mass every morning when I attended Catholic School. When I was young the Mass was in Latin and I didn’t understand a word. It was a mysterious ceremony and then in school, we learned to sing in Latin. Again, mysterious words to a second and third grader.

There were many strict rules. And we learned many prayers which I still say today, at least the ones I feel move me spiritually. I feel that was a good thing. We were told never to question. And…I could never go to church with my father because he was Methodist and it would be a sin.

I always felt that loss of going to church as a family. There is something that connects us when we worship together as a family.

During my teenage years, my outlook on religion made me begin to question my Catholic roots but I did so silently. In my various high school activities, I met a Pastor at another church and I liked what he stood for and how he interacted with the teenagers at his church.

We used to have what was called Release Time on Wednesdays where we would leave school for an hour for religious instruction. The Lutheran Church had some good discussion topics pertaining to what as teenagers we were going through. Some of us skipped our Catholic instruction from time to time to go to Release Time at the Lutheran Church with our friends because they were giving us answers and help with our teenage angst. It was a little sign of my first rebellion. And I might add in those days you had to have a note to stay in school and not go. Times have changed.

Next Blog: My Lutheran Journey

Anxious About Everything

Chapter Two: Anxious About Everything

my mindOver the years during past illnesses, I have learned rest is the only thing which will help calm my mind. My friend that I lost at the end of 2018 always told me during my illnesses and bone breaks that God was telling me I needed to rest.

During those times I found a new direction for my life so she was right. During those times I also learned when anxiety and exhaustion were filling my soul instead of peace that some days I just needed to go to bed, sleep and take time to listen to what my body was telling me.

The first months of this year when I found the book, Anxious for Nothing, things began to make sense. I would freak out over others problems, taking on in my heart what I felt they were feeling. I would worry if I didn’t hear from my children. I would worry about snowstorms or let’s be honest I would worry about things that didn’t even exist.

By April I felt my inspiration and joy coming back after taking time to rest, read and relax and grieve. I had pulled back from face to face interaction–-part of it might have been the winter–and I felt ready to meet and greet again. I held on to my book and in the morning I would read part of it over and over to keep myself centered.

During this time I pulled away from the church. I would listen to the Live Stream but I felt the need to step back. I wasn’t comfortable going. I liked the Pastor and I liked the sermons but when I attended I felt as if I was boxed in and I didn’t know why. It was something within me, not the church or its people but there was something broken inside of me or so I thought.

It wasn’t that I didn’t pray. I did. Everyday. Although I felt inept at that too because I wasn’t connecting with those rote prayers we said in church every week. I had memorized many from my childhood but they felt distant and foreign not reflecting what I was feeling or what I wanted to say. And other Christian people at events could speak flowery, meaningful, well put together prayers. I knew in my heart it didn’t matter but yet niggles of doubt about not being able to articulate a good prayer were there.

This was another journey I felt I had to take to figure out why I was so lacking in wanting to go to church. I had made the church a real priority after my children were born. I wanted them to know God and wanted them to grow up in the church. Now I have to wonder if perhaps I made my decision based on biased feelings as to which church was right or wrong because of what I was taught in my childhood.

While I was pulling the covers over my head, which I took to doing every few weeks to regain my sanity from the hold of my anxiety and the world, I contemplated why I felt so lost when it came to religion. I didn’t feel lost from God. I truly felt He was there and it gave me peace, but I felt lost from my religion.

Do you feel this way? I am learning I am not alone in this feeling.

Next blog: I’m Catholic — Wait I’m Lutheran –Wait!