Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Feeling Forgiven: My Faith and Emotional Perks

Earlier today, I said that it wasn't 'warm fuzzy feelings' that induced me to become a Catholic. That's true enough, but there are emotional perks to being Catholic, now and again.

Not that I'd let my emotional state dictate what I believe. I use my central nervous system for thinking, and my endocrine system for feeling: not the other way around.

Still, like I said, there's an emotional side to my faith.

Take Mary, for example.

I had a soft spot in my heart for the mother of my Lord, long before I converted to Catholicism. It took a lot of guts for her to say 'let it be done' when she got that assignment. (Luke 1:26-38)

Then, there was that time at Cana, when she told servers at a wedding feast: "Do whatever he tells you." And then Jesus performed His first miracle. (John 2:1-10)

And no, Catholics don't worship Mary. At least, we're specifically told not to. Some of us don't take orders too well: but what can I say? We're human. Our attitude toward Mary - and the other saints - is one of veneration, not worship. (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1154, 1674, 2132)

Mary's got quite a few titles. The church my family and I go to is "Our Lady of the Angels" - which is a reference to Mary's title, "Queen of angels." She's also called "Model of motherhood," "Comfort of the troubled," "Refuge of sinners," "Mother of good counsel," and "Mirror of Justice." And that's just scratching the surface. (see "The Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary" on the USCCB website)

The other Catholic church in town, St. Paul's, like many others, has a few statues of Mary. Including this portable one:

That sign says, in part, "...The purpose of the 'traveling pilgrim statue' is to honor Mary and give glory to God, with the theme 'to Jesus through Mary'...." November 13, 2009.

My family has never signed up for having the "traveling pilgrim statue" in our home. But we do have a statue of Our Lady on one window. Actually, there aren't many rooms in the house where there isn't some reminder of our faith. There's even a statue of Mary in the garage - temporarily.

There's a picture of the Last Supper in the room where I'm working, a couple of Mary and Child pictures in the kitchen, crucifixes here and there - you get the idea.

I like it. I've never been able to understand why people don't put reminders of their faith in their homes, as reminders to themselves. I know that there are people like that: my parents' home was largely devoid of religious symbols. Their explanation was that a person's life should be sign enough of that person's faith.

That's okay: but I've found that it's easier to live my faith if I get frequent reinforcement.

Or, look at it this way: how many kids who are nuts about some rock, country, or movie star don't have a picture or two of that performer on display in their room? Sure: 'it's not the same thing.'

Then there's the mix of feelings I have about Confession. Or, if you prefer, the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. (Catechism, 1420-1498, for starters) I don't particularly enjoy going to someone and admitting just how much I've failed to live as I should since the last time at Confession.

On the other hand, I know that I should get used to the idea of facing my Creator now, while body and soul are connected. (Catechism 1021, 1022, and elsewhere) That's one reason why, although we've got the option (locally, at least) of remaining on the other side of a screen from the priest, I opt for a face-to-face with Jesus' agent.

I can't honestly say that I enjoy all of that. But, it's good for me. And, once in a while, I "feel forgiven." Not that it matters how I feel: but it's pleasant when emotions are in sync with knowledge.

Forgiven. November 13, 2009.

That's not me, by the way: I haven't had that much hair on the top of my head since my mid-teens.

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Tracy said...

Fabulous post, thank you so much for sharing with such honesty, just beautiful!!!!

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...


Thanks for the good words. Like the fellow said, 'I try.'


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I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

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Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.