I was a Roman Catholic for 55 years before excommunicating myself. See how I took the blame for my own defection? That’s Catholicism for you, it’s always your fault no matter what.
I realize I say this painfully because church made up a great part of my life. I went faithfully on Sundays and every day during Lent, something I actually looked forward to. It was the time of year where I’d clean out my closets and drawers, give things away. I’d reassess different parts of my life to see what needed improvement. Then a succession of unsavory events occurred.
It started with the scandals involving the church. I was still with my ex who always made fun of my religion. Since his came in a bottle he couldn’t understand my relationship with ‘the communion of Saints’ for lack of a better term. When the media went nuts on The Vatican he in turn went nuts on me.
It was very uncomfortable I remember because what could I say? It was awful what had come out – the cover-ups not to mention the acts themselves. I was ashamed of these men who aspired to be so holy and furious at the Pope for not changing the medieval chastity law so the horror might stop.
I finally came to the conclusion that my relationship was with God not the Catholic Church hence, my first step out the door.
What would Jesus do if he were here? I’ll tell you what he’d do, he’d fire everybody and pen his own story. Let’s face it, the Bible could use a rewrite.
Then I had 2 things happen with 3 fellow parishioners from St. Ignatius Loyola, my church at the time, that left me paralyzed with fury.
Without boring you with detail, let’s just say these individuals were holier than thou and meaner than you could possibly imagine. The term, ‘carnal Christian,’ was coined for the likes of those who are religious on the outside but borderline demonic in their hearts. I know it sounds harsh but believe me, completely warranted.
That’s when I stopped going to mass. It was as though my desire just packed up and moved. It felt strange too, like I was missing a limb. I even went to talk to the pastor about it, a man I really like and admire, and even with his gentle prodding and suggestions nothing shifted leaving me spiritually homeless.
Cut to, ‘Unity of New York’ 11am Sundays at Sympathy Space on the Upper West Side, a suggested attendance from an acquaintance.
To be honest, my first impression was over the moon. It was a theater filled with happy, kind people of every race and color who greeted me warmly. I couldn’t help falling in love with Unity and its cheerful congregation.
I was immediately sold by their optimism and joy that was undeniably infectious. There was no original sin on 96th and Broadway, that’s all I can say.
So I went every Sunday for 6 months until one day I started feeling melancholy. I realized I missed aspects of my old stomping grounds – the solemnity mostly.
Unity is more like a Broadway show. They sing, dance; there is no altar to speak of. At first that didn’t bother me but later on I began to yearn for a candle to light and a bench to kneel upon. After a few more weeks I stopped going there too.
I returned to mass but it still, even after such a long absence, left me rent and empty.
So now where should I go; what can I try?
No, I didn’t convert but I have to say their traditions and rituals have me intrigued. Its simplicity has begun to woo me in that direction.
So what now? Will I be Bat Mitzvahed lighting Chanukah candles cooking brisket anytime soon?
I don’t know, but I am still searching for a place to hang my soul so to speak.
I like the expression, ‘God is in the details’ so I’m confident he’ll help me figure it all out.
I’ll keep you posted.