My Journey of Faith, Hope and Doubt

Holy Week is, for Roman Catholics, the holiest week of the year.  It is the time when we prepare for the full celebration of the Paschal Mystery.  Liturgically, we celebrate and make present the events of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

And, although Holy Week held special meaning for me this year, it didn’t start that way. I missed mass on Palm Sunday. My excuse was that I had to attend a bridal shower at 11 a.m.  Not a good excuse, either, since there are Saturday night or even Sunday night masses. Spotty attendance at mass is typical behavior for me the last few years. I think some of the more conservative Catholics would call me a “cafeteria Catholic.” Yet, I feel as Catholic as people who never miss mass. Being Catholic is the essence of my being. I can’t imagine not being Catholic.

On Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. my ninth grandchild, Avery Jane, was born. At a little over six pounds, she is the latest proof for me of God’s grace. Holding Avery just minutes after she was born made me wonder what God was trying to tell me.

Back in January, when I began blogging, I wrote Moving Forward  and Joy. In my pursuit of quietness, sorting out my feelings about being Catholic and wanting to feel the presence of God are probably the most important work I have left to do in my lifetime. In writing these two blogs, I began my conversation with God about my faith and my doubt.

I wanted to do some Lenten reading this year. “Being Catholic Now: Prominent Americans Talk About Change in the Church and the Quest for Meaning,” was the book I chose. Actually, my brother read it and suggested it. He and I spend hours talking about our faith and the pursuit of meaning. I bought the book at the beginning of Lent. It sat on my night table until Tuesday night when Avery was born. I began reading it that night. It was a good choice and reading it this week was perfect.

Reading “Being Catholic” speaks to my intellect and my curiosity. The writers take issue with many of the Church’s practices. Yet, I am amazed by the consistency of the writers’ basic beliefs about the meaning of Catholicism. Social justice, taking care of the poor and doing good works are clear in all of their writings, even for those who no longer consider themselves practicing Catholics. I wonder if conservative Catholics approve of the essay collection. The writers are open and honest about their feelings, good and bad. Yet each writer seems somehow still connected to their Catholic roots and the teachings of the Church seem to have informed their world view.

On Holy Thursday, I attended the mass of the Lord’s Supper at Sacred Heart Cathedral with my friend, Belinda and her husband, John. It was beautiful and rich in the traditions I love. It amazes me that I can question my faith and yet be so moved by the sight of the Bishop washing the feet of twelve people during mass. The liturgy was beautiful. The music gave me chills. Over coffee after mass, we talked. I wondered if my love for rituals and ceremony was superficial, if somehow loving the pomp and circumstance made me shallow. Belinda responded, “good liturgy builds up faith.” She’s right.

Tonight I joined Belinda, John and their family for the The Great Vigil at Sacred Heart Cathedral. I can hardly believe that I was in church from 7:30 until almost 11! That’s a record I think. I don’t even know where to begin to describe the events I witnessed during the liturgy. I was, at first, struck by the diversity of the congregation. As the Bishop said during the homily, all the continents were represented in that church tonight.

We  began outside with the Blessing of the Easter Fire and the lighting of the Easter Candle. Each of us held a candle, lit from the Easter Fire. We processed back into Church with music and prayer. The light came mostly from the candles as the Cathedral lights were dimmed.

For the first time in my life I watched as nine people of all ages were baptized by immersion. I happened to be standing in the back by Bishop Clark. He was standing next to me when he took off his outer robe and made his way into the water. One by one, each candidate stepped into the pool and knelt in the water as the Bishop poured water over them. One little girl, probably about nine years old, looked absolutely angelic as she looked up to the Bishop’s face, a huge smile on her face. I cried. The last names of these people reflected the universality of the church: Chantra, Moroz, Hsi, Kothor, Maviogha, Quiles, Sherwin, Sherwood and Ulom.

The sacraments of Confirmation and First Communion were also received by this group and others previously baptized and now welcomed as full faith members.

As the rest of the congregation waited for the newly baptized and the Bishop to return to the church (in dry clothes!), we renewed our own Baptismal promises and were invited to the pool to bless ourselves with the Holy Water. I stuck my entire right arm in the warm water. It felt wonderful. I blessed myself with the Sign of the Cross and wiped the remaining water all over myself.

So, it is with a peaceful and joyous feeling that I write this blog in the very early hours of Easter Sunday. I am feeling okay about my ambivalence, about my curiosity, about my love for ritual, about everything Catholic. I feel renewed in my faith. I feel close to God. I am thankful for Jesus. I love the gifts I have been given. This faith journey is one I am glad to be taking.

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12 Responses to My Journey of Faith, Hope and Doubt

  1. roz says:

    I am happy you are finding comfort in the church again. I agree with Belinda if the rituals give you a sense of comfort and awe then at this point that is what you are meant to get out of it.

    Buona Pasquale gf

  2. Carlo Rustico says:

    Whoa, you are getting onto thin ice here. Were you trained by the Society of Jesus? What would your mother say?

    I think you are finally getting to the realization that everyone’s — wait, make that everyONE’s faith journey is different. It has to be. And it’s OK. Better than OK. When one finds their path to God, one finds that all of life is on that path. Everything fits.

    Congratulations and Buona Pasqua!

  3. Valerie Steverson says:

    Faith is a beautiful thing. I agree with your friend, it is a journey we all must take. Paths that wind and turn, but if we all try to be the best people we can and have a sound faith in God, we will all join together in unity. Christ will come again.

  4. Faith does not come easily, but when it does, it hold and sustains you. Glad that you embraced it. It was wonderful to read your experience.

    Cheerio 🙂

    Joy always,

  5. Faith does not come easily, but when it does, it holds and sustains you. Glad that you embraced it. It was wonderful to read your experience.

    Cheerio 🙂

    Joy always,

  6. Mike Print says:

    Thank you for your lovely and heartfelt post it was lovely to read. God wants us to be open and honest about our feelings and bring all our questions and doubts to Him and let Him deal with them in His own way. I too, as most Christians do I think, sometimes struggle with my faith but then I re-read the Gospels and take heart in the one who cried ‘I believe, forgive my unbelief’ or the plight of Peter with all his troubles and failures and yet in John 21 Jesus lovingly calls Him back to His role and commands Him to feed His sheep. I’d encourage you to re-read the Gospels for yourself and get to know Jesus better and learn from Him.

    God Bless

  7. I am so glad you are finding a renewal in your faith…there is nothing more beautiful than to experience the presence and reality of God and embrace that and live it out. A beautiful, inpsiring post.

  8. Rosemarie, this was a wonderful and inspirational post. To have such a Faith is a wonderful thing and I am glad to hear that you were given the opportunity to renew your soul:)

  9. melissa says:

    beautiful rosemarie… much as you try to find excuses for yourself…deep inside there’s Someone that calls you to come back and look within…

    feed on the Words of God more…and sustain them with the Catholic documents that you read…

    i’m glad that you have experienced the Easter Vigil… and witnessed the Sacraments of Initiation…

    keep on growing rosemarie 🙂

  10. It is comforting to read all of your words and know that others are on a faith journey. It’s gratifying to find new friends that think and feel about things in some of the same ways as I. I really appreciate hearing from all of you and invite you to continue letting me know your thoughts. Have a wonderful day everyone, make that every ONE!

  11. Larry Lewis says:

    I believe now, in these difficult times, we all have an opportunity to find our faith to help us through and move forward . I am so glad you have been able to find yours.

  12. Pingback: This Easter « An American Point of View

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