I have spent years in the throws of an aching longing for God – about 17 years to be exact. Though not brought up Catholic, I was baptized Catholic and my husband and I returned to the faith when my third child was born and we decided they needed a faith tradition. We became immersed in the beauty of the Church, the mystery the saints, then our faith matured. I went on to delve into the mysticism, gobbling up John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, St. Francis, Catherine of Sienna and I think that is when the longing started. I felt I was endlessly being drawn into the depths of spirit and couldn’t get enough – I was in love with God and s/he with me. We meditated together, rested together, seemed to gaze at each other and like being in love, my last thought of the night was of God and my first thought in the morning the same. Thomas Merton and Teillhard de Chardin came next. brilliant men who expanded spirituality beyond the edges.
My yearning drove me to look and read and revel with delight at all I uncovered. My philosophical mind turned over all the details I would mine and look at all the nuance. And the yearning never stopped, I ached, I pined, I had brief respites of peace, but then the longing would begin again. When would I cease? When would I find what I was looking for? Months turned into years which turned into more years. Spiritual direction and exploration of the stages of faith – purgative, illuminative and unitive. Spiritual exercises of St Ignatius and understanding the shifts between stages of faith – we don’t stay in one stage, we vacillate between them.
Still the yearning, but now reality starts peeking in, seeping in to lift up the corners, shine light on the dark places. The yearning isn’t stopping, I am still being led – pushed – to continue searching. Time with the Redemptorists – a lovely nun told me God gives certain souls a long rope to go exploring, I found comfort in that, but my soul was still restless. Carmelites next, other Christian alternative Gospels – Buddhism – nothing satiated me. An Atheist friend pounding on the Church, pointing out her obvious flaws – defense mechanisms kick in – my defense of Catholicism bolsters my faith not his, interesting turn of events.
It doesn’t last. Patriarchy reigns, prayers changed to more “accurately fit the Latin vulgate,” sex abuse scandal continues, Pope Francis excuses the guilty priests. Churches close, priests ruin parishes and are left unchecked as they rule over their serfdoms, Pope Benedict says women priests would be a more egregious sin than pedophile priests….(Saint) John Paul II knew the extent pedophile epidemic and did nothing – except protect Bernard Law by bringing him to Rome and then giving him a cushy job there. No punishment for the guilty princes.
(what am I doing here?)
Pope Francis says something (though now I forget what) is as useless as a Grandmother.
(Really? Women’s only contribution is motherhood?)
Nothing is working the old prayers are stale, it feels like indoctrination, it feels robotic, cradle Catholics have no idea what they believe in – aside from the big three – 10 Commandments, no abortion and we are all sinners. It begins to feel like a cult. Women priests can not even be DISCUSSED, priests get excommunicated for supporting women in the priesthood, pedophiles are still being hidden and sentenced to a “lifetime” of prayer.
I give up.
I meditate, I think about Yeshua (less baggage than Jesus). I think a lot about Mary Magdalene and the bad deal she has been given by the boys in the Church – no, she was not a whore ever. She was the Apostle to the Apostles. I invite Yeshua and Mary to pray with me, I make up my own rituals – I write things on little pieces of paper that I don’t want in my life – debt, negativity etc. – and I burn them in a chalice made of pottery. I ask Yeshua and Mary to help me. I write what I want to bring into my life – greater spiritual awareness – on a piece of paper and bury it like a seed waiting to grow. I still research, but the aching is gone, I feel more peaceful. I find Mary Magdalene in France. A light seems to be going on and I realize, as many times as I went back to the church, the Holy Spirit was actually leading me away. I feel more at peace now, more clear.
The Holy Spirit led me away from the Church and then told me why – Biblical corruption (Yeshua wrote nothing down and said the Holy Spirit would lead us after he was gone), the Romanization of the Church, corruption and power mongers in the Church.
The Holy Spirit is no longer there, Christianity is not what Yeshua taught.
I’ll leave it there. For now. Our Lady of Pontmain (Good Hope) in Marseilles is smiling.