Seasons of Faith

Recently I read a friend’s blog that reflected on the various “seasons” of faith he has identified in his life. It caused me to do some reflecting of my own.

I was raised Catholic – twelve years of Catholic school, most of the instructors nuns, attending Mass every Sunday was obligatory, and quite often, we attended daily Mass. When I went away from home to college, the experience allowed me to visit churches of different faiths…but I continued to follow what was familiar.

My first reality check occurred when my husband-to-be and I began discussing marriage. To my astonishment, the priest told us that he wouldn’t marry us because of my fiance’s previous marriage that occurred in his teens (a marriage that lasted approximately one year). I had never been married! Why should I be punished by the Catholic church? I stopped attending church for a long time.

Years later, I returned to the Catholic church. Somehow, all those years of Catholic education had left their mark. I now refer to that as “Catholic guilt.” How well it had been ingrained!

Even more years later (and much to my husband’s credit, I might add), we began the process of annulment. The lengthy process finally completed, we would then be “allowed” to have our marriage blessed by the Catholic church. I dropped the matter. By that time, I had determined that it didn’t matter. The marriage had occurred – no one could erase that reality – but it had also been a step forward for him in his growth as a person.

I think that may have been the beginning of another phase for me – that of “cafeteria Catholic.” I began looking more closely at what I was expected to believe, and then to balance that with my own feelings. (This was no simple effort on my part. In Catholic school we were always told what to believe. I do not recall ever discussing or debating a matter in school, being encouraged to ask questions, or to disagree. Thus, this was a step forward for me in making choices.)

When a beloved pastor retired and moved from the area, his replacement simply didn’t measure up. I became more critical. The bishop of the diocese then added his expectations to the mix and all Catholic churches within any reasonable driving distance were expected to conform. I found there were many more things to which I objected, and I began seeking another church home.

In my search I discovered a man who gave wonderful sermons. By this time, I had determined that, for me, the overall message was something I needed to hear. As a result of being drawn back again and again for this pastor’s messages, I made new friendships, was offered employment, was encouraged to read the bible, and developed greater involvement in a church setting than I had ever had previously. This experience helped me to realize that community is also of great importance to me.

Next, a judgment call (and what turned into some bad publicity for this local church) pushed me a step further. A man in the parish who had been very active in church activities (lector, choir, parish council), but who had also not kept it a secret that he was gay, was suddenly told by the church pastor that he could no longer participate in the above-mentioned church activities – because he had had a commitment ceremony with his partner of 30 years!  I remembered the words of one of the hymns I had sung in this very church:  “All are welcome in this place.” Really???? It was at this point I decided I no longer wished to have any affiliation with this church.

Today I feel as though I have entered a new era in my religious journey. I have concluded that all religions are man-made, thus susceptible to human failings. I have begun reading the bible. So far, nowhere have I seen any admonitions that I have to be a Catholic, Lutheran, Buddhist, or Muslim. Rather, I have seen Jesus’ words:  “Love one another.” Although I have yet not made a commitment to any church membership, I feel that I have found a church family and a community that I can respect and support. I have decided that I am choosing to “love one another” and to spread the gospel by example. Though I do not know where my journey will next take me – for now – I am satisfied that this is sufficient.


Not so long ago, I discovered a verse in the bible that is now special to me. It is in Mark’s gospel that tells of Jesus’ intervention with a man’s son who was possessed. Actually, in the verse just ahead of it, Jesus says “All things are possible to him who believes.” Then, in verse 24 of Chapter 9, the father cries out saying “I do believe; help my unbelief.”

Since finding this verse, I have thought many times that it most surely applies to me! While I wish to believe as I was taught, too many times I recognize a fleeting shadow of doubt hovering overhead. Lord, how much I want to have the faith of our fathers, and yet…I hesitate at what I sometimes see inside of me!  It is then I hear something awesome, like what took place yesterday.

The wife of my elderly cousin died a few months ago. She made a valiant effort to stay in touch with me, and to try pulling the family (with all its dysfunction) together. When I last spoke with her, she sounded very tired. Unfortunately, since I live at quite a distance, and because the family is quite fragmented, no one notified me of her death. When I finally made no connection online or by phone, I contacted one of her daughters, and learned what had happened.

Hearing the daughter’s account, she told me how everything seemed to fall into place. When the daughters arrived, my cousin’s wife was already in the hospital, but alert. The girls were blessed to be with her fully in her final days. There were two residences, one that was overseen by an association. When they notified the association of their intent to sell, a buyer appeared within days! My cousin still needed assistance, so as they began to seek an assisted living placement, they found that their mother had already provided all of the couples’ information to the first place they looked! The daughters took that as a sign, and were able to move my cousin in, even bypassing the preliminary qualifying interview, as they would be bringing him a great distance!

I attend a bible study group within a prison. There, prayer requests are made weekly, and joys and answers to prayers are shared. It seems that, whenever I need strengthening, I am blessed to hear an awesome testimony. Truly, when I look around me, I often wonder how any one of us can ever question God’s existence? Nature in all its perfection reflects His intricate timing and glorious beauty at every leaf and bud! We are all so unique. Not a single person ever has the same thoughts, experiences, or emotions. Sadly, it is often only upon reflection when a life is over, that we are awed, realizing that, yes, God indeed did have a plan! 

I urge you to look around you. Recognize the small and great miracles in YOUR life that happen daily, and strengthen the unbelief in your life today.