Being Proud of Your Faith

Over a year ago… Probably around March 2012, I had a friend and her sister in my apartment. The older sister noticed all of the religious decorations that my now Mother In Law had left with us. There was a crucifix, a painting of Jesus, and a few others. This is new to me, but I loved and appreciated the gifts anyway as it really can’t hurt to have pictures of Jesus and Mary in your apartment (going to the kitchen in the middle of the night after reading a scary story feels much safer!!).

Anyway, the older sis noticed all of this and proceeded to question me about my faith. She really wanted me to say that I’m only Catholic because I want to marry my boyfriend. She also talked about how her boyfriend was Catholic growing up, but then his whole family left the church because of the child molestation scandals in the Vatican.

I affirmed that following the faith and the Bible is not the same as following the Vatican, and that although my then boyfriend and his family did teach me a lot and they are very happy about my decision, I was not becoming a superficial Catholic just so that I could marry him. They are not so close minded and I am not that shallow.

She was not convinced.

She then stated “but it is easier, isn’t it?”

I looked away and said “mmhmm.”

Because, duh, it IS easier in one aspect, but it is in no way easier on ME or MY side of the family and is in no way a reason for me to change my religion.

I suck at confrontation. I knew nothing would change her opinion, she only wanted to hear what she wanted, so I gave it to her.

This stuck with me for a good while after because I wish I had something that was somehow more convincing to say. Some of the history of the Vatican is incredibly disgusting and shameful but that didn’t deter me from becoming a Catholic, I just couldn’t find a convincing enough reason to explain why.

Anyway, life went on. I had my Lent experience and later left work and prepared for my move back to the Caribbean.  So much stuff happened but that conversation did stick with me and every now and then I would think about it.

I had spent a week in Egypt that summer as it would be my last time there before my family returned to the UK. I had plenty of time to reflect on how blessed I was to have spent so much time there over the past 6 years while it was still stable-ish. I thought about all of the people there fighting against an oppressive and corrupt government so that they could continue to live eventually in peace in a country that they love. So many people who can say that they are so proud to be Egyptian, but contain a deep desire to change their government that in many instances only works against them.

The same could be said for almost anyone. You could ask a British person “Are you proud to be British?” And the answer would most likely be “Yes!” But then you could ask “Are you proud of David Cameron?” And the answer could very easily (especially in my case) be an emphatic “NO!”

Being British is not the same thing as being a supporter of David Cameron!! No no no! Being American is not the same thing as being a supporter of Bush, Clinton or Obama! It is very easy to be one and not the other.

So why is it that some people must think that if you are proud to be a Catholic then you must also be proud of the Vatican and all of its history? Not true!! Nope nope nope! I do not support any of that scandal, I am disgusted by it.

I hope and pray that those involved in those scandals are brought to justice and dealt with by God. I also hope and pray that Pope Francis can continue to do everything he can to reform the Vatican and spread to the world what the real and true message of Christ is.

You can be proud of your nationality, history and culture without being proud of your government.

You can be proud of being a Catholic without being proud of the Vatican.

I think it is that simple.

God Bless!!

Mrs. :-)

P.S. That said, I am really liking Pope Francis so far!! I hope he continues to do a lot of good representing the Catholic faith just as it should be!

I’m Liking This New Pope :D

Was wondering if I wanted to post anything today, then I saw this:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/22/pope-francis-good-atheists_n_3320757.html

Pope Francis Says Atheists Who Do Good Are Redeemed, Not Just Catholics

Thank you Pope Francis, thank you Jesus!

Now I can drop a famous name next time I’m having one of these debates :D

Sincerely

Smileyface :)

Easily Influenced?

I can be easily influenced.

So…

I try to surround myself with POSITIVE influences!

I think people underestimate the power of other influences in their lives. I had to say this because many people (including myself) often feel too proud or even too “grown up” to be influenced by others. I used to feel like I was too smart to be easily influenced.

But then I realised, it’s not that I was too smart to be easily influenced. It’s that I had been surrounded by intelligent people that acted as positive influences in my life and my self-image. So how could I possibly go down a bad road when I am only interacting with positive influences?

This realisation didn’t happen overnight. But from my experiences over the years with a few different groups of people, my standards and views on life flow in response to who and what is going on around me. If you surround yourself with people who have what you would consider a lower moral standard than yourself (and lets be honest, cutting all the niceties and polite-ness, you KNOW when this is the case!) you begin to feel like you are an amazingly wise and saintly person! You may then start to feel like because of all your hard work and moral value, you can afford to relax a little and give in to that one vice which appears innocent compared to what’s going on around you. After all, it’s not like you’re being as bad as them!

This is not healthy, this is how bad habits are formed. But it happens. As humans we always compare and most things are relative. I know it!

The wake up call comes when you suddenly find yourself surrounded by people of a higher moral standard than you. It’s very simple! All of a sudden you realise that you would rather not share the stories of those tiny little vices you’ve been indulging in, however small they are. You may even feel a little ashamed! Stay around these people long enough, and you will find yourself phasing out those vices once again. Eventually.

I guess it comes down to which influence you spend more time with. This will end up being your primary influence and the winner of your soul. Boom.

I know that everyone has different degrees of this. We are not all EXACTLY the same. Some people appear much harder to influence than others, but I would like to argue that no one gets this way on their own. If I meet someone who appears to be very well grounded in their values and principles… someone who is simply just very hard to influence, then I will assume that they probably have a much stronger influence in their life with which they choose to really focus themselves. Positive or negative.

This is why I find that religion is such a gift to humanity.

I am fully aware that there are lots of atheists out there living full and happy lives filled with deep inner peace and a love for their neighbours and the world around them. My Dad has always been a real example of this to me. He is an atheist, and I can easily say that he is the most kind hearted person I know. The influences that contribute to who he is are his parents (who are in fact Christian) and his siblings. Their influence is held on to and continued through my Dad’s strong sense of purpose to be a good Dad and provider for our family. I could dedicate an entire book to his example (if I could write a book!).

But family is not the only influence in anyone’s life. I’ve had friends, teachers, classmates, communities, culture, tv, music, art, the list goes ooooonnnnnn….. All of these things are my influences and all of these things have a tendency to send mixed signals from time to time.

I need guidance to know when to follow and when to lead, when to hold on and when to let go, what to believe in and what to be wary of.

I can’t come up with this all by myself.

I need a positive and constant influence to surround myself with.

This is one reason why I have been gradually introducing Catholicism to myself over the past few years. It’s a lot to take on all at once.

But God is one influence in my life who I can say with confidence will always lead me down the right path, keeping in mind that I need to know how to apply my belief and understand God according to the context of what is written and what I have been taught. God is also the one influence who I could present any issue to without worrying about the shame or embarrassment I would rather not put myself through when I am afraid to speak to anyone else. Stating the obvious: I care about how people see me, especially the people I am closest to. God however already knows all there is to me so there’s no point in hiding.

I can’t say that religion is black and white, the Bible, as with any religious text, is very open to interpretation hence there are many different sectors of Christianity who all interprate the Bible differently. I need to take the time to read, pray and meditate on what I am reading and maybe speak with someone about it as well. Someone who I respect and who also knows the Bible and Catholicism better than I do! Speaking indirectly about an issue with someone by asking questions about the Bible may be a lot easier than speaking directly about whatever the issue is. Of course they may read me and figure out what it is that is really bothering me, I have to decide if I want to take that risk!

Anyway, what this all comes down to is I believe that no matter how “mature” we are, we are all easily influenced. The key is to try and choose your influences as wisely as possible. Be picky! Be picky with who your friends are, be picky about the music you listen to and be picky about the TV you watch. Be mindful about how much time you spend with negative influences you can’t avoid, and be determined to spend at least equal or more time than that with the influences you need.

In fact you can start by just choosing one influence that you know you can always depend on to lead you down the right path. When you have found that influence feel free to question it at times, questions lead to a deeper understanding, but do not ever turn your back on it. Keep it with you.

I would like to recommend this post, Everyone Worships Something, on a blog which I don’t always agree with, but I do believe holds a lot of insight and wisdom which I can’t get enough of! I love reading each post as it comes up on my Reader and they always give me something to really think about.

I think I could write half a dissertation about influences, so I will just leave it at that for now!

Much Love!

Smileyface :-)

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