At the end of Part Two, I had listed a sampling of man-made religions and their prime architect. The differences and sometimes divisiveness of these faith and belief systems––and yes, Catholicism is fairly turbulent at the moment––is a hallmark of the human condition and at times, has spurred trouble on the world stage, especially when religion is co-opted by intolerance. That simple statement has been the impetus for books that fill libraries.
However, to my point on spiritual discovery, when I read some of the doctrines and interpretations attributable to these various religions or the like, and I emphasize some, at times I find them insular, problematic, sometimes cultish and occasionally nonsensical. Additionally, it could be said that many of the Christian schisms were attributable to pride and not charity, so the motivations for their dissent have to be seriously questioned.
I need to be clear on a couple of things. I’m imbued with a spirit of tolerance for all religions primarily because I respect the freedom we all have to pursue the spirituality of our hearts and minds. The circumstances of our lives are different so it shouldn’t be surprising we have diverse faiths. When I’m in the midst of religious people engaged in worship, my heart is warmed knowing that even though we have differences of belief, we are committed searchers of divine truth. We are all the same; we are children of God.
With respect to Christianity, yes, there are disparities. Yes, I have chosen Catholicism. That said, I would never denigrate the faith of other Christian brothers and sisters. Never.
If there’s a wellspring of Truth, I want to be as close to this source as possible; in my humble view, the headwater of Christianity is the Roman Catholic Church. One point needs to be emphasized. I’ve talked about my search for God but there are as many varied and extraordinary paths to Him as there are people on this planet. To the extent people embark on such a journey of discovery––God never ceases to draw man to himself––and elect to not believe, their decision has to be respected. It’s unfortunate but God gave them that freedom.
My patron saint is St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430), a remarkable scholar, unprecedented thinker and a dominant linchpin of western theology. I don’t think it was a coincidence I selected St. Augustine, a tradition of conversion, when I entered the Catholic Church although the significance of such is now becoming crystalline. For a notable time, my life in so many ways mirrored the lascivious and immodest early life of Augustine.
His Confessions, eerily similar to many of my experiences, at some mysterious level may have inspired me to seek Truth. Like Augustine, I wholeheartedly succumbed to the sins of the world and rejected God; He was barely an afterthought. I lived as the creator, the manipulator, the hedonist. God? Does anybody believe I cared one scintilla about God?
“Too late have I loved you.” This famous utterance by Augustine encompasses the classic truth about his life and relationship with God. I would like to appropriate it. Its succinctness captures my situation as well. Though I’ve been stripped of my worldly possessions and squandered a life replete with promise, I now understand. God is my treasure, He loves me and hope beckons.
I know it in the part of my soul that has been touched by Him, where doubts don’t exist. I know it as a function of faith and spiritual apprehension. I know it because although God is everywhere, my heart’s compass is pointing to heaven.
As people get older, do they move closer to God?