My Culture and My Faith Intertwined

Catholic

Sunday at Shrine of the Most Precious Blood, my parish, The Society of St. Anthony of Padua celebrated the Mass in honor the saint.  Tuesday the church itself will celebrate a Mass in honor of the saint, as Tuesday is the actual feast day of St. Anthony.

As the mix of Italian and English was filling the church, the statue of St. Anthony with lights all around it at the entrance visible when you first came in, the bread blessed and distributed at the end, everyone greeting everyone, even if they did not know each other, and people introducing you to others, it was beautiful.  It also brought home a very important point, maybe more than one.  It brought home to me that Catholicism is a major part of who I am, culturally whether I agree with all of the theology of the faith or not.  It is a very important part of me, what shapes me, who I am, the conservative side of me, also the spiritual side of me.  I have no problem saying I am of Christ, I am Christian, and yes I have had my crisis moments, my questioning moments, but I never turned my back on Christ.  The core of who I am remained the same throughout my journey and my connection the Trinity, the core of the Catholic faith never wavered, ever.  I have been also aware that as was pointed out last night in a Catholic anniversary program there has to be a periodic examination and renewal, so questioning is not problematic within itself.  However one thing I have realized is that the core principles of the faith are perfectly sound, logical and serve me well in my life should I adhere to them.  Appreciation for them and my culture is a true blessing, the church does and has recognized when it has faltered, even if not right away, but then do we immediately realize when we falter?  What are those principles that have guided me, that the saints have shown me?  There are a few:  

  • Make the journey of faith, really explore the Judeo-Christian faith from all facets, come to it and God with an open and willing heart, spirit and soul, and love
  • It’s okay to stumble along the way, just get up and keep going
  • Stand strong for and in who you are, a child of the Creator, and in Christ who gave his life for you
  • Discover your gifts, talents, purpose in that and how to best apply them for the good of society
  • Value family, cultural traditions, while still valuing progress and moving forward
  • Be a shinning example of faith and strength through faith, no matter what
  • Don’t ever be anything but who you are and are meant to be in Christ
  • Celebrate that every day of your life and help others to do so

As I continue in my work as an artist, and music coordinator for the church, I hope to learn more about myself, my faith, my culture all of that and grown in my relationship with the Trinity, as well align my own trinity in harmony, my heart, spirit and soul.

Amen

Culturally …., Spiritually…,OY!

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The Journey That is Life.

Culturally I am Italian, and of course big part of that is being Catholic with the feast days, and all that being Catholic entails. So far so good, but…

Here is where being human is a bit more complex because though I grew up Catholic, and appreciate aspects of the faith, as I was watching The Watchman this week and a few other programs I realized, not that simple.  Yes my cultural context of faith is Catholicism and I am respectful of that, will always be there to preserve the heritage.  However, yes there is a however, though I do go to Mass, I don’t pray the prayers, the rosary of the Church.  I don’t look to theology to understand the Bible necessarily, but to the Bible itself, common sense and if I can do some research on the culture of the time, context, as well as nature, the world around me.  I pray by meditating, by chanting certain Biblical related affirmations perhaps, and by talking in a prayerful state to the Trinity.  On social issues and such, I lean more with I guess Conservative Evangelical Protestants again based not on any hierarchy theology or anything like that, but common sense sense of natural order, of sovereignty of nations, separation of powers, law and order, respect for authority, for God’s natural order as he intended.  Culturally I am Catholic because I grew up with the traditions, but when the RCC takes certain stances regarding immigration and such, then I can’t align myself with that because I believe in strong law and order, borders etc….  Then I see the difference in energies between the two and it is also an interesting thing to watch, where you have often the Catholic Mass very somber, and the people in the pews not engaging, or if they are it’s robotic, mechanical, no fire in the belly so to speak.  With this culturally Catholic, but in other ways much more aligned with Evangelical Protestant what the heck is one to do?

I can handle it by appreciation.  I can appreciate the Catholic faith, part of my culture, go to Mass, help to preserve that part of my culture, the Italian churches, things like that, appreciate the Mass for its’ structure, all its’ different qualities.  However, I can still pray how my soul is called to pray because it is still praying to The Father, Son and Holy Spirit for my gifts to expand, for me to be able to have a life of abundance, creativity and make a difference in the lives of others, in society.  I can be culturally Catholic, honor the faith and culture of my ancestors because it aligns with the Bible, though some might disagree, but that is another issue, and still be true to my Conservative Evangelical True self as well.  As long as it does not violate The Word, and it helps me stay connected to the Trinity,  core that is Christ, and helps me in my life journey, then I can reconcile both.  To add to this cake of layers, I can also appreciate the Jewish holidays and such because Jesus was Jewish, the apostles were a number of them Jewish, so I can also appreciate that.  As long as what I am appreciating, a part of aligns with the Bible, not my own whims to live life as I please, doesn’t twist anything into a pretzel, not that I have anything personally against pretzels, but when it comes to the faith, no pretzels.

Amen