it’s so strange to be alive today. when i was in high school my beliefs were pretty much grounded. raised catholic, 13 years of catholic school with all the ceremonies, daily mass ans communion, lenten preparations, living nativity participation at christmas. yea, my beliefs were engrained in the puzzle that was my life. i believed this, with all my heart and in God. so much so that when i went to see “the exorcist” (it’s just been a few years i can hear the word or music without panicking) i was so affected i had to see a priest for counseling. as strong as my belief in God, was my belief in the devil. all my years of religious training, bible reading and catechism learning told me this was very possible. done with my therapy and a compassionate husband (at the time) i got over it.it was not easy, shower curtain always open when not in use, closet doors always closed and at least one tiny, little light in a corner. time passed and i evolved mentally, but i always had my faith. i didn’t talk about it nor do public displays, an example learned from my devout abuelita. she wasn’t like the other grandmas who sat in the front of the church rattling their rosary beads so all would know they were praying. mi abuelita sat towards the back with me, her rosary tucked in her sleeve. when i asked why she didn’t pray like the others, she explained the love of God was private, not public. it taught me so much. as a child my school was visited by a bishop, high-ranking in the catholic church. the nuns told us not to make eye contact with him, keep our heads bowed. if he came near we should kneel and kiss his ring. my abuelita & i walked to the school hall to see him. then, there he was, right in front of us. i knelt, reached for his hand to kiss THE RING. my abuelita stopped me, made me get up. “no hija, no te hinques, y no le beses la mano.” i was stunned! the bishop asked why she stopped me, she responded that faith was not a public spectacle, but private, from the heart. he blessed both of us, laying his hand on our heads.
as time passed and i got older, i came to question what i had been taught to believe. clay statues were revered, a wooden cross made in pennsylvania was to be genuflected in front of and water mixed with oils blessed by a man was holy. i am a logical, mostly rational person. slowly but surely all of that became less revered. the vatican at one point allowed us not to have to confess our “sins” to a priest any longer. we could now do this between ourself and God. of course, time keeps on passing, i keep evolving. i now question the value of the religion i learned. now exposed to the atrocities committed in the name of god, i’m disappointed. i’ve read the bible at least 5 times, once for a religion class, once for an english class to analyze the writng styles, once as a history of the time, once just because and intermittently when arguing a point.
i’m now at a point where i believe from two perspectives, that of the girl growing up, learning and believing the teachings. the other, an adult, a woman who has been exposed to other faiths, beliefs and religious styles. i’ve gone grom 1960’s catechist to 2012’s woman with a jumble of christian and buddist beliefs. my newest faith teacher is the dalai lama. i have learned so much about humans and humanity, faith and beliefs from him. and of course, mi abuelita is there watching over me.