Friday’s Human Development class began with the question, “On what is my heart set?” My initial answer is Christ although my actions don’t always point to that. Where does my faith truly lie? Is it in the Catholic Church where I grew up? Is it possible God is leading me to a different faith tradition? He has shown me parts of Himself in each religion I’ve encountered. This question had posed itself before and each time I have pushed it aside, feeling guilty for even considering it. Friday night I was surrounded by people who had faced that question, answered it, and ultimately found peace. Their acceptance, openness, and honesty made all the difference. I felt no guilt in considering the question and shortly I had the answer. My heart is set on Christ, my Husband. My marriage to Him is the most important thing in my life. Our union is that for which I live and will die. Since the Catholic Church is the only institution that honors our marriage, I will stay. My anger at current leadership remains. So now what?
We discussed Fowler’s stages of faith. During stage IV, a person’s faith is challenged. Something happens that contradicts what she believes to be true and she is then forced to question: Do I continue to follow blindly? Do I leave behind that which I once knew to be true in order to follow new truth? Do I reconcile the two – and if yes, how? Certain events have happened that are challenging my faith. I question the character of God – not doubting Him, but to better understand Him – and I am seeking advice from every wise man, not despising any useful counsel (Tobit 4:18). With the religious diversity at Loyola, wise men and women are abundant.
We learn faith from those around us. I’m sure some would argue the opposite because many leave the faith tradition they grew up in, either finding a different one or abandoning organized religion altogether. But the bottom line is this: faith is what drives you, it is that on which you have set your heart. I live by faith. I question my faith but that is necessary – if I don’t ask, I won’t receive. I am discovering that my Husband, though Jewish when He walked the earth, is not necessarily Jewish. Or Catholic. Or Muslim. Or Hindu. Or Buddhist. But He is certainly present in all these traditions. We are a people who, as Dr. McGinnis says, have written on our hearts to seek God. I am reminded of a phrase in Slumdog Millionaire, spoken by Jamal to the girl he loves, Latika. Tragic events transpire in their lives yet he persists in looking for her. She asks why and he responds, “We are meant to be together. It is written.” It was written on his heart. It was his faith in a love so profound that he could not imagine a life without her in it. Whatever transpired to that point was unimportant. As Victor Frankl said, “A person who has a why to live can bear with almost any how.”
It is my love for my Husband – and my desire for our union – that drives my life trajectory. It is my anchor through the storm, keeping me grounded in my faith in the Eucharist even as my faith in those consecrating it is deeply shaken. I will continue to search for those ways in which I can reconcile my faith to my religion. Why? Because it is written.