Monday, January 24, 2011

Faith and Hope, But Where's The Beef?

When I was very young I can remember feeling very secure despite the fact that I was very vulnerable, which is the state of all young children. I guess being held, nursed and cuddled gave me the feeling of always being protected. Yet I had no written assurance that my mother and father were going to protect me against any and all evil that was going to come my way. They did nothing heroic yet I ate well, had a nice apartment then house that kept me warm in the winter and a shady tree that kept me cool in the summer. I guess it was the fact that they provided for my well being that I came to trust them, believe that they would always be there for me. My faith was that they could protect me from everything. But as I grew in age and wisdom (?), I started to believe more in myself than them. I knew what was best for me. I could provide for myself. After all I was almost a teenager, wasn't I? Besides there were pleasures and joys waiting for me that they never wanted me to experience, but I sure as hell wanted to.

The older I got. The taller I got. The stronger I got. The less I needed, or even wanted them or anything that was outside of myself and that included the notion of God. In many ways He was even more limiting than them, all "Thou shall nots.", when I wanted the "Thou shalt dos.". On top of all the restrictive stuff  He was invisible. My parents were real. I could see them, touch them, feel them, especially my mother when she was enforcing her loving discipline upon me with her open hands finding my face, back or whatever she could hit as I ran away from her. But God? He only had representatives who dressed in black and the men terrified me but not as much as his "wives", St. Joseph nuns from whom I learned a great deal about the wrath of God. And so as this all knowing teenager I began to lose my faith and hope in externals like parents and religion. I could take care of myself and I should avoid God, if there was really one, and parents at all costs.

As I was pursuing this hedonistic existence I kept having nagging bouts of conscience. I couldn't escape it no matter how hard I tried. I refer you to that great poem, "The Hound Heaven", by FrancisThompson
to describe a little of what I was experiencing. Finally, I surrendered and made a good confession and started the battle of good and evil within my little world. I did realize that my parents were growing older and becoming a lot wiser but they really couldn't afford me the protection I needed from outside forces. This made me turn more so to God. I realized I really couldn't handle everything myself and I needed a force outside myself which was greater than myself and my enemies, and some of my friends. I started to become a religious lawyer. If you dig deep enough you can almost find a reason why it is very hard to sin. As an example, back in the old days thee hours of servile work on Sunday was a sin so you could clean the car in 2 hours and 59 minutes and still be free and clear. OR A mortal sin to get drunk! BUT If you didn't start out with the idea of getting drunk, just a little buzz, then it was a venial sin, for non'-catholics, a little sin not a hell bound one. Besides back then only you knew if you were blasted or not, which I had confirmed to me by my favourite confessor, an ex Army Chaplin. However me and God and His Saints and Blessed Mother were carrying on a continuous dialogue.

My middle ages calmed me down a bit as did the very fact of greater responsibilities of raising a family and becoming a parent that had to provide but was becoming increasingly irrelevant as the children grew. Some how I felt I had seen this scene before. Suddenly I was no longer ageing but I had aged and not like fine wine I am afraid. I have experienced life full of joy, highs and lows, births and deaths.  I have kept my dialogue with God up but the older I get the more I see whatever explanations the great philosophers and theologians give for the proof that He really does exist and all the rules of my beloved church somehow don't make as much sense as they used to nothing really satisfies the questions of the reality of God. So what I am left with is faith and hope. A belief in something invisible and a hope that this belief will bear fruition. I guess I have come to the point that my mind is just too small to grasp the reality of God but I am certain He is here and my hope is that He will be there for me and all of us always. I am happy being where I am. See the following for St. Paul's  quotes which is kind of what I am trying to say:

Hebrews 11:1 >>
New International Version (©1984)

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Romans 8:24 >>

New International Version (©1984)

For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?
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