I was raised in the Catholic Church. Today I wonder what that means? We attended Sunday school and church almost every Sunday. I memorized prayers, learned about the sacraments, knelt on my knees and preferred to sit in the balcony during a crowded service.
I disliked going to confession greatly, cried during my first communion and felt ashamed to receive communion after my divorce (I am not worthy for I have sinned). It all felt like a bunch of RULES to me, but I also knew it meant community and a safe place to go.
Contrary to my perception, I could see that for my parents it was something all together different. But yet it was within a sub-culture of our Catholic church that my parents participated the most and were most fulfilled, it appeared. They had their prayer groups and attended weekend retreats. At the time I didn't realize it, but now I can see the divide between religion and spirituality, yet they are linked together respectfully.
After leaving home I married somebody Catholic, so my religion routine pretty much stayed the same. We attended his church, which was much smaller, friendlier and more fun. After my divorce to my first husband, I disconnected from religion and the bought and borrowed beliefs of what a good Catholic girl should do.
I remarried, in a Baptist church, but had our first daughter baptized in the Catholic church. Moved to Minnesota. Had our son who we didn't have baptized. This last little fact weighs on my mother, which reminds me of the RULES that get ingrained in your mind. Do I really think my son would be condemned to hell if he were to pass today? No!, but the Catholic guilt still lingers inside.
Since moving to Minnesota, 10 years ago, my children and I have been members of a Catholic, Methodist and Lutheran church since. My husband rarely attends. We are now well settled into the Lutheran church and my 13 year old daughter Paige is attending confirmation classes. She is required to write sermon notes, which means we must attend church.
MY RELUCTANT SANCTUARY........
As I reflect on my spirituality and my religion I try to understand why "church" has been my reluctant sanctuary. I believe partially because my upbringing in the Catholic church made it feel like an obligation, a test, a set of rules, which were all outside forces.
But ironically enough it is the obligation of fulfilling my daughters requirement of sermon notes that I am drawn back to the sanctuary of a church, for which am I grateful.
Obligation or not, as I have learned that, God, spirit, the greater power (call it what you want) is not out there, but rather WITHIN me, going to my reluctant sanctuary truly fuels me. This is what my parents knew, so why didn't they just teach me this? They did teach me. It just has taken me many years to be in a place of understanding.
Everyone has their time and everyone has their reluctant sanctuary. Maybe we are lazy, selfish or maybe we don't love ourselves enough. We are worth it, so everyone, go to your reluctant sanctuary (whether that be church, 10 minutes of quiet tim or quality time with your family) and claim your well deserved fuel.