Incense. Warmth. Stained glassed windows.
The Sunday morning sun blaring as we exited the church to shake the warm pastor’s hand.
Intimate and excited conversations of the coming world’s troubles, and our gratification that we were obedient rebels, sticking with the truth, no matter how unpopular.
These are some of my memories of my Catholic childhood.
The Church was my haven, my joy, strangely enough for a quite non-contemplative person. There was an unfortunate cloud of depression much of the time at home (which our family hadn’t really known or acknowledged yet, but in later years would receive great healing), and I grew up in a relatively introverted family. So I, the extrovert, looked forward to going to Church on Sunday where there were crowds of welcoming people, music, and a faith that never seemed to bore me. Sunday was the high point of my week, and possibly the high point of my parents’ week as well, as they truly believed and were engaged in the faith they taught my siblings and I.
This was my inheritance. Whatever negative aspects of family life there were, they paled in comparison to the fact that the ‘Pearl of great price’, or this free goldmine, was offered to me on a silver platter, with me doing nothing to deserve it. That my parents gave me this eternal gift, that they were faithful to it and that we lived it as a family, was love beyond measure, love that reaches past earthly death.
I was always content with my faith, even during my more rebellious teenage years, and other religions or ways of thinking didn’t even interest me. I figured, whatever I would be when I grew up, I would either be a Catholic or an atheist. I felt, why go for anything ‘in between?’ Either go the penitential route, be a martyr for God, and go all out in the religious sense, or live it up, enjoy this earth, do whatever I please, and go to hell.
Little did I know, God would allow me to explore both paths before the age of 20…
… to be continued…