Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 29, 2003
Walk about on my spiritual path
My Irish heritage finally found it's Catholic roots
By LASHA MORNINGSTAR
Cast a look back at my spiritual journey and, as with many, the word "walkabout" jumps out as the title.
Church, as a child, was imposed. Baptized Presbyterian, confirmed as an Anglican. Attendance on the holidays.
But when the adult years hit, my need to have a spiritual framework for life pushed me into an all-over-the-place exploration of belief systems and heritage.
Such a mish-mash.
Too often, I felt as though I was caught in a maze.
So for many years, it was just God and I. I would pray aloud outside - after casting a careful look around to make sure no one could hear. But my soul ached for some sort of structure. I felt I did not know how to pray or how to hear God's voice.
And so I began my search.
I decided to take a time out and went to an ashram. Secreted in a forested valley in the Rocky Mountains, the spiritual sanctuary embraced all religions and the peace in their house of prayer seemed to soothe even those who came there for weekend seminars.
But as alluring as the promise was, I soon realized I must be part of society. And I left.
In retrospect, it is not surprising I would be delving into my ethnic roots around the same time. Maybe I could find some clue there as to what faith would nourish this growing ache. So calls and letters were put out to aging aunts.
After several months, my father's sister mapped out the shamrock green lineage of both my paternal grandparents.
Eire and Catholic. The Irish they still acknowledged, but, as in too many situations, some dispute with a local priest over land prompted the furious family patriarch to demand the family leave the Church.
I had always heard about the Orange Order maternal grandfather who bequeathed land in the Scottish Highlands. But it was my mother's eldest sister who finally whispered that her mother - my grandmother - had a great-grandmother who was a Dutch Jew.
"We could be called Jewish," she whispered.
Proud of this ancient lineage - however diluted - I wanted to explore this faith path. So I called a local rabbi and enrolled in classes. Studying the Torah, the writings of the prophets and history of the Holy Land and the celebrations of God during the religious services fed my hungry soul, but only to a certain point.
What about Jesus? The rabbi always answered my Jesus questions the same way.
"I like him. He was a good dude. But he is not the saviour."
Ironically, it was my challenging of the saviour statement that led me - for the first time since I was a teenager - to open the New Testament and begin to find my own Jesus truths. As I studied, the threads of the Biblical facts answered my soul's questions and began to weave my fabric of belief.
But where could I find a faith path that would allow me to worship all of the aspects I was coming to love and cherish?
I suspect angels were at work when I was talking about what I believed in over lunch with a newspaper's religion editor and he said, "You sound just like a Catholic."
Surprised and still remembering my paternal patriarch's edict to leave the Church, I nevertheless sought out books on Catholicism.
It was like coming home. Yes, this is my faith. But how do I get to be a Catholic, I wondered?
Again, the same journalist - he's Dutch Reformed - told me about the RCIA program.
I made the call.
It's been years now. Like any life journey the path hit rocky patches, wandered along byways, suffered potholes of neglect. But change hit my life two years ago. And now I have carved out time for Mass, prayer, Confession, reflection.
My faith is simple - many would say simplistic.
I believe in prayer and find the answers sometimes astounding. The saints and angels are called on regularly, especially St. Anthony and Archangel Raphael.
And I know God's love always surrounds me like a warm blanket, no matter what my apparent transgression.
I cannot begin to think of what my life would be without the sanctuary of St. Joseph's Basilica. Another blessing is a confessor who hears what is not said and searches when the sheep is lost.
My faith journey is without end.
Each day I pray Thomas Merton's prayer. It begins, "My Lord God I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
"But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you and I hope that I never do anything apart from that desire."
It continues on.
As does my journey.
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.