Thursday, July 10, 2008

Hail Mary, Full of Grace

I've been studying Christianity, specifically Catholicism, intently for six months. My life has changed, my views have changed, and how I study even changed. I've warmed up to ideas I didn't know existed, and I'm growing more each day both in faith and in how I view my world.

The journey hasn't been rosy and perfect all of the time. I've been met with some harsh criticism from my non-Catholic friends. They tell me that I'm looking into a church that doesn't even align with the Bible. They don't understand sacred tradition, and I've noticed a lack of respect or even anti-Catholic sentiments at times. My family doesn't know much about Catholicism (mostly Lutherans or Methodists). I haven't gone out of my way to include them in my learning. My father hasn't been terribly supportive, but nobody in my family has actively encouraged me either.

That said, I couldn't be happier with my own progress or the amount of information I've covered. Some of the more interesting subjects included mariology, the virtues, the Church's views on homosexuality, and understanding what faith is (both through reading and seeing). I love what I've learned, and I'm actively engaged in my own education. I get to decide what I learn and when... that's the best kind of learning. I can't say that I'm truly converted, but I am really enjoying the new information and seeing why people believe what they do.

In studying Catholicism, a huge part of my effort has been actually living a few of the beliefs of the Church. I didn't feel I'd be doing myself or the experience justice if I wasn't actually experiencing the religion. I didn't go to church every Sunday, but I went most of the time. I made a point to learn what the different parts of the Mass are. I memorized several of the prayers (okay, just the easy ones), and I'm working my way up to some of the longer ones. Even if I don't understand them completely yet, memorizing them will help me to understand them later.

The perfectionist in me wonders if I could have done more to make this experience and journey better. I don't know. I'm still living it, and I can change how I do things at any point. It's been fun, and I really like how I'm growing in faith and as a person. I'm doing it for me. That, in itself, is a huge thing to realize.

My next steps include looking at Protestant churches, differentiating the Protestant faiths, and likely continuing my Catholic education by speaking with a priest or two. I might also venture out into other religions at some point (it never hurts to learn, if only to understand and respect someone for their beliefs). After that... time will tell.


MissKris said...

..."The Lord is with thee...", Jaggy. I'm sure He's leading you along in this. We are each and every one of us 'judged by the light that we have.' I am not Catholic but I applaud you in listening to that still small Voice that is calling after your heart. You go, girl, and may you find what you're looking for. I'll be praying for you.

MissKris said...

And thank YOU for your comment! I have a tendency to blather on sometimes, but I enjoy your blog SO much. I'm pretty sure I told you once before you remind me a lot of myself when I was younger. And I haven't turned out half bad! So you hang in there. Keep following your heart. I always have and rarely has it ever disappointed me.

jblieu said...

The most important thing is a personal relationship with Christ, which you will find in both Catholic and Protestant churches. Conversely you will find the lack of relationship in both too. Religion is one thing, real Christianity another.
Knowing what you believe and why is important. I do not enjoy debating, so I usually tell people to pick up the Bible and read it for themselves. It truly is the living word and needs to be read for oneself.
Thanks for stopping by my blog.