My faith, my religion – Am I losing faith or just disillusioned from organized religion?

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Philippines is mostly Catholics. For some childhood memories, I remember that the country goes on vacation from Dec 16th till New Year’s to celebrate the birth of Christ. I also remember that Holy Week is definitely the holiest of all the weeks. I went to church every single day of that week. Sunday mass is a "must" and not a "maybe".

I went to a Catholic school from Kindergarten to College – wore the uniform every single day! (All girls school from High School to College); my father’s families comprise of priests, nuns, archbishops, cardinals, monks – you name it, we got it covered!

I still remember talking to my "ama" (Filipino for "father". This is what I call my mom's Dad). I was sitting on his lap; my mother was very pregnant with my youngest sibling. (I already have 2 older brothers and 2 younger brothers). That was 1973. I was nine years old and wanted to go to the convent to be a nun.

My grandfather asked in Tagalog,
Geng-geng, mag ma-madre ka bang talaga? Iiwan mo ba ang mommy mo?”(Geng-geng, do you really want to be a nun? Are you leaving your mom?”)

I can still picture the spark in my eyes when I answered him, “Opo, ama.” (Yes, grandpa)

My grandfather remarked in Tagalog (I can still visualize the sadness in his eyes):
Ipangako mo sa akin na kung lalaki ang magiging kapatid mo, hindi ka papasok sa kumbento, o-kay?”
(Promise me that if you’re having a brother, you won’t go into the convent, okay?”

Back then, I figured since I already have 4 brothers, what are the odds?

A few months after that conversation, my youngest brother was born!

Now I have four children and belong to a “rainbow” family!

My family’s totally colorful. It’s unique not because we’re different. We just happen to have different politics, race, religion and beliefs!

My family’s Catholic and Jewish; Religious and reform; believers and agnostics (or even borderline atheist); Filipino and Caucasian – and whatever fractions of European, Asian and Hispanic ancestry; Republicans and Democrats and independents (since we have teenagers who don’t like both parties!); BUT we are all one in LOVE – a love for one another and for other people!

When I make Passover dinner – most of the family members that come are Catholics since the Jewish families now stay in Florida for the winter; On Christmas Eve most of the guests are Jewish. We have matzoh balls for one holiday and spiral ham on the the next holiday. Oh, I love it!

I still remember my 3rd son’s baptism! We have the Jewish and Filipino-Catholics all in the same room. The hysterical part of it all was when my father brought in whole “roast” pork (lechon). Oh, how I wished we took a snapshot!! You should see everyone’s faces!

I used to bring my kids to church every Sunday. I used to say the rosary at least once a week, but as I got older it just lost its spark. We used to attend all the services during Lenten season. However, the past few weeks it seems like my heart’s not in it. It is tough enough that my teenagers question the validity of organized religion and the rigid rules, with their mother not totally “gung-ho” to the religious rituals, what are their chances?

This year’s even tougher! My youngest is preparing for his First Holy Communion and my 13 year-old is preparing for his Confirmation. I still encourage the kids to pursue their religious education in order to learn the teachings of God.

Today, my 13 year-old and I planned on going to church.
He had to go because of new Confirmation requirements.
He has to make sure he submits his weekly envelope otherwise he won’t get confirmed. That does not sound right, does it?
Submitting an envelope as an attendance check?
For a very long time, Sunday mass does not seem like it used to be. Depending on the priest, I love listening to the homily.
My kids and I join in the singing of praises (and as I learned in Catholic School – singing is praying twice because you are also sharing your talents).

For a very long time, Sunday mass does not seem like it used to be.
I would rather walk and talk to HIM while I'm walking than
sit for an hour with the congregation.
Oh, how I miss the services in the Philippines!
Is it the services that I miss or is it the company of my family that I miss?
How can I make my children force the Catholic rituals when I myself can not abide by them?
How do you make a child sit still during services when I myself can not?

Am I being disillusioned with church – and the whole “routine” celebration?Have I changed because of my own personality or beliefs?
Have I been swayed by society ?

I asked my husband,
“Would it have been different if we’re both Catholics?”And he said,
“Absolutely. If I go to church every Sunday, the entire family will go, too.”But I don’t regret having the family that I have – the way it is.
We may not be totally religious but we do practice what’s right and what’s wrong. Does that count?

I know I’m going to be in trouble once my father reads this:
I still pray and say thanks – I do believe.However
I can’t seem to focus on the entire mass.
I like going to church when no one else is there.
I love lighting a candle, and offering the day’s intentions and graces;
I end my day saying my prayers;
I am thankful for the blessings I’m graced with;
I enjoy and concentrate more when I read the Bible myself;
When I’m driving or taking a walk – I say a prayer or two, too.
At times of sorrow – and I’ve had plenty, I ask for guidance.
I question HIM sometimes, but then ask for forgiveness for doing so.
I pray that my children and family be safe,
But why can’t I give HIM the one-hour a week ?
Is it because I don’t feel like I’m part of my parish?
Is it because I was never involved with the parish community?

When my 8 year old asks during offertory and after the Archbishop Appeal to collect more donations,
"Mom, why does church need all that money?
Why are they collecting $3M? That’s a lot of money, isn’t it? "

I can't seem to find the right answers so I said,
"Maintaining the church costs a lot of money.
But let's wait until we get home and ask Daddy."
and my 8-year old replied,
"But Daddy is not even Catholic."

Do you think it’s time for me to find another parish church?
Maybe I got disillusioned by the riches and extravagance?
But yet, I long to visit the Vatican City someday.

It’s Lenten season. I remember bringing all my kids to all the services during Lent.
( Maybe that’s the reason why they don’t like going to church anymore?)The kids are raised knowing what’s good and what’s not;
The kids know that they have to help other people who are in need;
The kids know that they have to love G-d and love their neighbors;
BUT I can’t seem to get everyone to church every Sunday.

I know I believe in God. Am I just losing faith in organized religion?

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  1. Jen,
    We are going through a similar situation here in my house. Let's talk soon.



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