July 14, 2014
Before she died, Mother Teresa was tormented by doubt – a lack of faith. She confessed to feelings of hypocrisy and an extreme longing for God and Jesus … even for her own soul. She had moments, dark moments, of disbelief; she did not feel Christ’s presence for the last half of her life – and this is a woman who is venerated.
Their lives are hard, C. The Catholic Church is dark and full of people who come to bitterness and regret over a life wasted. I don’t know if this is what the nuns you experienced feel, but I know a great deal about the church and nuns in general. I am sorry you came away empty of spiritual growth – but I’m honestly not surprised; I left the church because it couldn’t fill my spiritual needs.
When I was young, and going through religious training, I almost feared some of the nuns; they were like sentinels – silent dowagers of another time and place. Even as a child, I sensed their unhappiness, and sometimes their lack of faith. I didn’t hold a lack of faith against them, I realized I was devoid of faith when I was a young child, but for a nun to lack faith seemed blasphemous.
They choose the convent very young – they choose supreme sacrifice before they know what they’ve done, and what they are giving up. This is fertile ground for bitterness and regret.
Paul’s sister was a nun – this to escape a childhood of abuse and torment at the hands of her father, and neglect from a distant and cool mother. She left the church twenty years later – married a woman, adopted Paul’s illegitimate son and then committed suicide over the guilt she felt in divorcing God – leaving the church.
Many do not choose the church for the right reasons, Sweet C …
There are nuns of depth and sincerity – lovely women whom I admire, but they are rare and definitely not the norm in my experience.
I do not think God, if he exists, can be found in some cloistered location – blessed though it may be – or in toil and utter sacrifice. I do not think God, if he exists, wants this for his precious children.
I love the traditions and the rituals of the Catholic Church, and I have for as long as I can remember. I loved watching my father, whose faith could move mountains, when we were in St. Peter’s – he was lost in a love for his God; I was in a heaven replete with Renaissance treasures – for me, God was nowhere to be found.
But my father – my powerful, dominant, father … who subordinated himself to no man – fell to bended knee before God. That always unnerved me, shook me to my core – and intrigued me endlessly.
Rituals retain their meaning, C, when we allow them to – when we embrace and continually affirm their meaning in our own lives. I still go to confession in Rome, and I still take communion at mass in St. Peter’s – not because I believe literally or even figuratively in ‘the body of Christ given for me,’ but because my father did believe this and I feel close to him when I partake of this ritual. The symbolism is beautiful – it meant the world to my father, and I hold it in high regard in my own life.
And, of course, rituals find their way into our roots; they become an integral part of our lives – linking us to family, friends and community.
But I don’t think a monastery is a good place to find spiritual vibrations; for that there is Machu Picchu, Lourdes, The Temple of Hera, Kushinager, The Hill of Tara, Mt. Gabriel, St. Peter’s, Santa Croce …
We all find God – in whatever form that concept takes, where we may.