10 March 2011

Lent, Love, and Inspiration

We are now in the Lenten season. The Captain is Catholic, and got to visit St. Patrick's Cathedral for his ashes, because it's down the block from his office. I was a little jealous, because it's quite a beautiful church. We're raising the boys as Catholics, but I'm Presbyterian. Mind you, I haven't attended a Protestant church in years, but it's still how I identify myself. Those early imprints are hard to change.

Only once have I ever considered converting to Catholicism, and it was because of the boys. Two got up to receive communion, and said "Come on, Mom," but I told him I couldn't go, because I'm not Catholic. It's a flaw in the doctrine. Now I get up and walk up with the younger guys, so they can get a blessing. The first time I did it, the priest went to offer the host, but I said, "Just a blessing, Father." Then he wrangled me in the lobby, and asked, "When are you going to become one of us?"  I smiled, but lately, Buddhism speaks to me, so I don't see conversion in the cards.

I do think religious education is important, for both intellectual and spiritual reasons. I think a sense of wonder and faith are important tools in our daily lives. I think one should understand the history and basic tenets of their own faith, and, hopefully, others as well. I think there is more that connects us in this world, than that which divides us. Heck, Judaism and Islam started in the same family. Literally.

I reminded my children about Lent. They started thinking about what they had to give up, like chocolate. I explained that Lent is really about reflecting on what we can do to become better people, to be more patient, more forgiving, more accepting. To Love More.  No matter what they decide to believe as adults, this is the one thing I want them to remember, and strive to do.

I'm not always conciously trying to improve myself, but there are times when an issue arises, and I get a real "opportunity" to do some work. I'm in one of those periods. And I've derived real inspiration from a variety of sources, most interestingly from our friend Julie, who shares a daily card reading on her blog.

I think talking about religion makes a lot of people nervous. Either we don't want to offend, or we only notice our differences. But I'm all about what unites us. I believe in God, Jesus, the Universe, Buddha, and Muhammed, because I think it's all the same message. I believe in Big Love. I don't know what you believe, but I feel your love every day, which is why I believe.

Sending some love and inspiration your way now....

10 comments:

  1. Oh you nearly made me cry! Thank you so much for that. And your message is a beautiful one, the actual idea JC (and so many others) were truly trying to teach.
    Yay us for learning and growing and showing the next generation that we CAN discuss differing beliefs. As long as we begin from a place of love, we can't go wrong!
    Julie
    (I just put an update on your post from yesterday, I will NOT being the boy's laundry tonight after all.)

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  2. One of the very very few things I agreed with "Dr" Laura about... she once said that if children have certain kinds of religious standards they have to follow (Eg. turning down pork when at a friend's house), it can help them learn how to resist peer pressure when they get older. I think there might be something to that. I know for myself, I followed food based religious laws for a number of years in my teens; so it wasn't a stretch to become vegetarian later in life, because I was used to giving things up for "moral" reasons.

    Anyway... just some random ramblings brought about by your post! :-) The inspiration you sent must have worked.

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  3. I'm with you on Big Love.
    I don't have a religion, don't really know anyone else that does either...us Aussies musn't be a very religious bunch.
    It's interesting that you are writing about this now because just yesterday I was reading up about Buddhism. Like you, I find that Buddhism speaks to me.

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  4. I'm catholic. Honestly, giving up meat during lent was never a big deal since I eat meat maybe once a week anyway. Still I liked the "specialness", the being set apart as a kid. I think it's called feeling self-righteous now I examine it...

    Anyway, the only thing I currently enjoy is sleep and I'm not giving that up for forty days. I think all the nausea is penance enough.

    In other news, my fave pajamas no longer fit...SweetPea popped yesterday and there's a lil belly making the red flannels snug now.

    I'm with you on the religions. Best class in college was Comparative Religions because I NEEDED to know the similarities and differences and I can watch the news now and go "That is NOT what Islam is about I don't care what the commentator says." Hmm...self-righteousness again...maybe I might give THAT up for lent.

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  5. It's ALL about love. Love thy neighbor BUT (a little twist on the quote here) love thyself. And my darling daughter I love the messages you have given your children. Would that everyone did the same, then the world might truly be a better place. That's the message of the great religions and the great mothers.

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  6. @Mabel: I am surprised at how many of my children's friends have no religious education at all. Sometimes, I think it's because the parents were of different faiths (Catholic/Muslim) so they chose to focus on neither, rather than both. I think, at the very least, it's important to know the big names of the major religions. I like that you had a sense of your own strength and moral fortitude.

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  7. Well Meg-- this is one of my fails. I stopped dragging my kids to church long ago because it made everyone miserable, including me. I decided this was not meeting anyone's objectives and probably scarring them for life, so I just go by myself. [The clue here was when someone asked if I wanted to volunteer to be a "greeter" at church and my immediate answer was a firm "Absolutely not." We both were shocked at the answer, but I explained that by the time I got my kids dressed and to church I had not a Christian thought in my body. They certainly would NOT want me greeting anyone!]

    Do I wish they could feel the benefit that I get out of going? yes. Do I hope that it won't take them as long to find this support and peace as it did me? yes. But for now I guess they do get some benefit from what I bring home to them, and that's my compromise.

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  8. @Lora: I don't think you have to give it up if you're right. Yay, for the burgeoning Sweet-Pea! I would be so excited to wear maternity clothes these days-they're so stylish! Sometimes when I'm walking through Target, I see a really adorable dress, and then I realize it's maternity wear. Darn.

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  9. I'm a good Methodist, and I think you're right that more of us need more religious education. Both of my parents were shocked the other day when my sister and I talked about Presbyterians and pre-determination. My father was raised Presbyterian, and he didn't know anything about it.

    I was also shocked how strongly I (silently) disagreed with my best friend when she said that she and her husband were raising their kids to have a choice about religion when (IMO) they're really raising them in a religious void. I don't believe it can be a choice if you don't know anything about it.

    We should know of which we speak. ;)

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  10. @Chrysanthe: I don't think you've failed, if they went with you, and they have an understanding of what it means to you. I think church is a tough sell in today's fast-paced, secularized world.

    It used to be excruciating to go to church with Four. Medication has helped that, and reading material. We bring along two or three bible story books, and he just quietly reads. He stands when he's supposed to, and gets communion, and we all survive. More often, it's the older people I have to sit between and monitor. Sigh. And I say all this with the understanding that we do not attempt this every week!

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