Sunday, March 24, 2013

Wonderful Rules

As Holy Week begins, I’ve been reflecting back on last year when I joined the Church. I was excited and nervous. I felt prepared but immature. I’ve been on a journey of faith, learning a lot about me and God and relationship and existence. In the past year, I’ve learned the importance of having an all-encompassing philosophy. And it’s been an educational journey too. I know the difference between modalism, Arianism, and the Trinity. I know the difference between abstinence and chastity. I know the difference between abstinence (the other kind) and fasting. I know the difference between veneration and worship. The faith and education are intertwined. I know the difference in experiencing the Father, Son, and Spirit, but I’m not sure if it comes from clearer understanding the Trinity or from mystical experience. Probably both.

Catholicism is often criticized for being legalistic. There are a lot of proofs and rules. It’s the Roman legacy. Western philosophy likes categorizing and explaining. Eastern Orthodoxy believes in the Real Presence of the Eucharist, but they call it a Mystery and leave it at that.  Catholicism calls it transubstantiation and uses Aristotelian ideas to explain it. We want to know how, when only the why is needed. The reason I never really considered Orthodoxy (besides the scarcity of it in these parts) is that my mind is too Western. I like the proofs and rules. I think a religion needs a balance of the mystic and the legalistic, those things which defy explanation and the attempts to explain them anyway.

Some suffer under “rules,” but I like them. I like having guidelines and definitions and rituals. When I’m feeling spiritually dry, I can fake it until I make it. I stay plugged in and know that the drought is temporary. When I’m going deeper in my faith, all the guidelines and definitions and rituals are my tools, taking me further and further in, insight upon insight. Millions of saints over thousands of years have plotted pathways to guide me. I never feel limited by rules. There is beauty and Truth in the rituals. 

But still, the best things can’t be defined without being watered down or turned into metaphor, such as prayer or salvation or adoration or joy. And that’s been the biggest change to me since joining the Church. I feel joy in worship. I experience God in a more powerful way than I ever did. I feel like I’m where I belong, expressing myself in the way I was always meant to. I found my spiritual home. It’s joyous.

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