Wednesday, February 06, 2008

For Lent, I Learn

My quest to learn more about religion continues. Please don't think I am updating you on my journey because I want to impress you with what I've learned or because I feel like telling you how my beliefs have changed. I'm recording. I'm informing. I blog about me and the things I'm interested in. If you don't want to read anything below this paragraph, I won't be offended. If you want to comment, that's fine too. I'm here to share my story, not convert.

I've attended Mass a few times, and I'm reading a handful of books recommended by different people. My online searches have taken me far and wide... I didn't expect to find so much information! That's one thing that has surprised me about Catholicism: it's wide open. Unlike some religions that hide in ceremonies and have secret handshakes or unwritten beliefs, Catholics want you to know what's going on. I've spoken with a few of my good friends who are Catholic, and they were all more than happy to answer my multitude of questions in a straightforward manner. I respect that. (Thank you!)

Why Catholicism? I don't want to say that nothing in Protestantism surprises me--that would be false. Protestantism seems to be the same thing as Catholicism with some things stripped away. By learning about Catholicism, I'm also learning Protestantism. I'm learning how the latter began and evolved, and I'm realizing where my own beliefs come from.

Today marked the first day of Lent. Many of my friends are giving things up or are promising to do other things to celebrate the season. I have given the topic considerable thought. I contemplated giving up chocolate or caffeine. Deep down, though, I realized that if I really wanted to give those things up, it wouldn't be a struggle. I have the will-power to do anything like that when I decide to do so. Like a light switch, I could walk away from either. The caffeine withdrawal might be ugly, but I'd survive. Neither of those would help me learn about religion or faith or the symbolism of Lent. I think this journey, this question for knowledge means more to me. Instead of using my stomach as a spiritual alarm clock, I'm actively seeking to enrich myself through continued study... while it's not something I'm doing just for Lent, this knowledge is about Lent. To me, I suppose that's more important.

"But Jaggy!" I hear, "What about the Bible? Why don't I see you pouring over it's pages instead of those other books you're reading?" I wish I could say I've read most of the Bible. I haven't. I don't know every story, and I stumble at finding my place in it. I don't think it's bad to read the Bible--certainly not. But I'm not looking to hear Bible stories, and I'm not in search of specific passages. I'm trying to learn about things beyond the Bible.

The Catholic church has been welcoming, more so than any other. I still disagree with a few huge pieces which I'm not willing to discuss on my blog at this time, though, so don't consider me converted. My Catholic friends don't push their beliefs on me. They don't tell me I'm wrong, but instead they quietly listen and wait. I like that. I especially appreciate how Emily goes about things: she takes one of my questions, answers it, and then asks if that sparked another question. The cycle goes on and on. She doesn't get tired of me, either.

Every day brings me new joy on this quest, and every page of my books leaves me hungry for more knowledge. I've had my ego torn apart, and I've learned how my first impressions were wrong. I've seen that my heart and faith, though, have always been right. Such comfort. Wow.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow.... you did it! You made me figure out what I shall do for Lent.... you are right, my stomach will not bring me closer to God, so for this lent, i will read the bible every day. (this is a lot harder than it sounds) Thanks