Level 3 Member
Tuesday, June 17, 2008, 2:35 PM
Now some have asked me why not join the Eastern Orthodox Church? In truth, I have no problem joining the
Orthodox Church due to its beliefs. In
many ways my personal beliefs are in line with the Orthodox Church than with
the Catholic Church. However this would
not make things any better with my wife; it would most likely make it
worse. The Orthodox tend to be more
expressive in their religion than Catholics, and their services even
longer. I can barely get away for an
hour due to my wife enmity towards churches in general. Another reason is that the only Orthodox
churches in my area are mostly Greek Orthodox, and they tend to be ethnically biased
and not too welcoming of non-Greek members.
I would have to travel a good distance to one of the Orthodox Church of
America parishes. Besides, I have a
great fondness for many of the Catholic saints, such as St. Francis of Assisi, St. Anthony of Padua and St. Vincent DePaul. The Orthodox do not honor them, and I would
miss them sorely. No, for good or bad, I
must stay with the Catholic Church.
Back in February, my wife surprised me by telling me she
wanted to go through the annulment process, not because she wanted to become
Catholic, but to simply “get it done” with already. I was happy, but I really did not want her to
go through with it due to all the painful memories it would bring back. In the end I was begging her not to do it,
but she insisted. We set up an
appointment, and we met with a representative for the tribunal who took down
her story. I will not go into details,
but even though I had heard it all before, it brought tears to my eyes to hear
it again. That one person could treat
another so cruelly is hard to believe, but I knew it was true.
Since then, my wife’s feeling towards religion have gone
back and forth, and currently she is strongly against joining the Church, nor
does she like me having anything to do with it.
This puts me in a painful position, as I love my wife and do not wish to
cause her pain, but I love the Lord and must follow Him. So for now, I walk a thin line between faith
Tuesday, January 15, 2008, 6:04 PM
I decided to re-embrace Christianity, but which denomination? I tried several churches, but in the end I went back to my roots and studied Catholicism. Once I began to learn more about this ancient faith I was able to shake off some of my preconceptions and biases. I even enrolled in the RCIA. I went halfway through the program when I found out I could not be confirmed in the Catholic Church. You see, my wife had been previously married when she was still in college, and it turned out to be a disastrous, traumatic event in her life. TO make a long story short, she married someone from South America, convinced her to come back there with him, and literally kept her hostage there. She was physically and mentally abused before you was able to escape to the US embassy and get help to get back home. The marriage was divorced (it onnly lasted 6 months) but in order for me to join the church, She had to go through a church annulment. This event is still quite painful for her, and I she did not want to join the church in the first place. I felt this was a great injustice and I would not force her to go through such a procedure. I was quite angry with the Catholic church over this, because they ask us to accept their authority on faith, but when I asked them to accept what I had explained happened to my wife, they refused and insist on a tribunal to prove there was no marriage. After giving this several days, I decided to leave the RCIA and attend an Episcopal Church instead. I really liked going to Saint Paul Episcopal Church, but after attending for about 8 months I could not keep going. You see, the Episcopal Church is going in a direction I could not reconcile. I could not accept a gay clergy member in a non celibate relationship with another person. The Episcopal Church is heading in the direction of a schism with the Anglican Communion, so why join at such a time? Besides, I realized that my beliefs were more Catholic than protestant, so I decided to return to the Catholic Church and accept that I will not be able to receive communion there.
Thursday, January 3, 2008, 9:33 AM
As I was saying in my last post, in Deism I found what I thought to be the intellectual high ground, but I was still feeling dissatisfied with Deism. You see, Deism still left me without the emotion of belief. I felt no connection with this world or with God. Sure, I saw Jesus as a spiritual teacher, rather than as the Son of God, but it was not enough. Well, I eventually met and married a most beautiful and loving woman who had similar beliefs to mine, so I felt some contentment there with a spiritual partner in my life. Then IT finally happened; I became a father. From the moment the nurse placed her in my arms my life was changed forever. We named her Gabriela Estrella ("star" in Spanish) Santiago. I felt changed love and joy watching her grow up from that helpless little infant to the walking and talking little sponge in just a couple of years. The longer I loved her the more Deism sank and sank in my beliefs. I was in a dilemma because I did not know what to believe in anymore; Deism was still leaving a void in the center of my soul. I studied various religious beliefs, yet Christianity came to the forefront in my studies. I greatly respected Jesus of Nazareth, but I was not yet ready to call him Lord. One day I was in Indianapolis with my wife who needed to take a test for her school there, so I took Gabi to a small park nearby with a manmade lake. I sat under a tree and watched Gabi frolic and jump about with the energy and enthusiasm only a two year old can muster up. While sitting there watching her I was trying to decide what to do, because I was no longer a Deist nor did I know what direction to go in. While I was pondering this Gabi had snuck up on me, threw her arms around my neck and kissed my cheek, shouting "Love you!" She then scampered off to play some more. Well, I do not know if that was divine intervention, but it served its purpose. From that point on I decided to take a leap of faith and believe. I became a Christian, and I accepted Christ as Lord.
Tuesday, January 1, 2008, 7:10 PM
Well, here it is 2008! I have decided to begin this journal today because it is a time for new beginnings. I thought I would start with the history of my spiritual journey.
When I was a boy of about 10 in the west side of Chicago, evangelical preachers from the First Baptist Church in Hammond Indiana came into our neighborhood to preach their interpretation of the gospel. Like most kids, I was young and impressionable, and eventually started going to Sunday School with them. Now, I was a baptised Roman Catholic, but my parents were quite lapsed in their faith and were quite happy to send me off to a free baby-sitter on Sunday. Eventualy I stopped going because this church used scare tactics on us my emphasizing being doomed to eternal hellfire if we were not saved. All we had to do was accept Jesus as our savior and we would be saved forever! A no-brainer for a kid! Looking back on that experience, I am grateful it gave me an awareness of a diety, but to frighten children in such a way should be a crime.
Later in my teens I started watching an evangelical named Herbert W. Armstrong on tv, and started being influenced by this preaching. I eventually rejected him as well, as he just started getting too...bizarre for me. After high school I joined the Army, and had pretty much rejected religion as being overrated and more or less useless. After my four years in the Army I went to college and I ran into a group of Charsmatic Catholics. I attended several of their meeting and tried to become a part of this spiritual movement, but I begin to see a certain level of hypocrisy within this group. They really did not practice what they preached. I left this group as well, pretty much fed up with religion. I later learned about Deism in my humanities class, and felt I had finally found my home. Deism made sense to me. It explained why human being suffered and God did not intervene to help them. Since (to a Deist) God does not interact directly in human affairs, then we could not hold Him responsible for our problems. This worked for me for a number of years. I even helped start the Deism board here on Beliefnet and became the host.
In time, Deism began to satisfy me less and less, but to me it still made more sense than organized religion. However something major happened in my life to change my views; the birth of my daughter.
(to be continued)