Stephanie, please forgive my late reply, but thank you so, so much for your generous response to my story. Funny enough, here is how I found your comment:
I was sitting at dinner, randomly allowed my mind to drift to my relationship with Catholicism… and then absentmindedly checked my email. That’s when I received a notification that you had commented — about Catholicism — on this piece I’d written a week before. I was stunned, not just that you resonated with it so much, but also because I’d assumed the piece was worthless; it had spent the first week generating no love at all, haha. However, your comment taught me a lesson: namely, not everything we write will have broad appeal, but sometimes the message we are inspired to share is meant for just one person, and that still makes it entirely worthwhile. So I was really thankful that this essay found you and that it could help you find whatever validation, healing, and peace that it might have inspired.
Thank you for sharing about your experiences with Catholic guilt too. I’m not sure how it manifests for you, but I definitely also see it in myself, in various ways.
I like to think of the world’s religions as windows in a house: they let in so much beautiful light, and they let us behold the splendor of our world… but no single one of those windows can be said to have THE (one-and-only / greatest / 100%-all-directions-visibility) vantage point. Rather, each lets us see the world through a different angle. Much beauty, but also some important limitations with respect to how much it can show us of the picture.
That’s why it’s up to us to take inspiration from the good, loving elements of any spiritual path and filter out the elements that make us feel disconnected or judged. Like prayers to insist that we are “not worthy,” or superstitious imaginings that God dislikes it when people embrace the very blessings they were given. I don’t necessarily see “God” as I was raised to conceptualize God, but I’ll invoke Christian frameworks for the sake of this statement: I like to imagine that God delights in us taking delight in his creations. When we tell ourselves, “No, this is too good, and therefore I shouldn’t allow it to be too big a part of my life experience,” we are, essentially, in some ways rejecting that blessing.
I’ve been surprised at myself to realize that I am still doing that — still putting wall around the sacred treasures of my experience. Religious conditioning from early childhood goes deep… but I’m optimistic that now that I’m aware of it, I can heal the misconceptions I internalized.
I wish you very many blessings of healing and peace on your journey. Thank you again!
P.S.: your comment actually inspired my next post! I will tag you in it. ❤