That my brothers and I would be raised Catholic was practically inescapable. Our mother’s parents were immigrants (one Polish, one French Canadian) with Catholic roots as far back as forever.
I believed my mother when she told me about God and Heaven and Jesus and Mary. She was the one who taught me how to pray. We went to Our Lady of Humility Church every Sunday. At my First Communion I wore a white dress, white gloves, and a little white veil. I began to go to confession and to believe that I could sin against God.
In my early teens years, religion took on a new fervor and I began saying the rosary every day. My prayers burned with an intense belief in their power to effect change. Saint Teresa of Avila became my role model and inspiration. And, since I was in a Catholic school, my devotion was undiminished by skepticism or worldliness.
Strangely, I took only a scant few weeks of college (not a Catholic one) to convince me to leave my beliefs behind, along with my childhood, my rosary, and my virginity.
For the next forty years I did not believe in believing. Things had to “make sense,” they had to be scientifically verifiable. To me, people who believed in what could not be proven were simply superstitious. Heaven and the angels were just stories for children , something for them to outgrow like believing in the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny.
But, once again, my paradigm would shift suddenly and radically. On a Saturday afternoon last August, I got a phone call, the one from every parent’s nightmare. My older son, my first born babe, my beautiful man-child Lucas had gone out for a motorcycle ride and never came back.
Ever since then the concept of an “afterlife” has taken on an absolutely vital role in my belief system. I simply cannot and will not accept that Lucas is not still here with us in spirit form. Therefore I have decided to believe that he is. I also choose to believe that I will join him in the spirit realm when my time comes.
So I count three different relationships I’ve had with what I believe in. From a total acceptance of Church doctrine to a resolutely realistic demand for scientific proof and finally to a need to believe in a spiritual existence that transcends death.
Now I do believe in believing.
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