Realizations of a Recovering Catholic
I grew up attending private Catholic schools until I was 14 or 15 years old. During that time, I was the problem child. I spent more time in Mrs. Brand's (the school principal) than anyone else I knew. We would fight like cats and dogs about my behavior, and I was labeled by nearly every teacher, student, and parent, as a "bully."
By the time I left that school, I hated everything about Catholicism. I hated the judgment, the hypocrisy, and the damnation I witnesses and experienced.
Throughout my public high school experience, I never once had a similar issue. I never even saw the inside of the principal's office and I didn't change that much. While this was very nice, it only served to strengthen my conviction that Mrs. Brand and all those other Catho-lickers were "bad" and "wrong" about me.
Needless to say, some samskaras were formed.
To this day, I struggle with all things Christian. When I meet a proud Christian, my internal narrative picks up. When conversing about the Church, I have to hold the words of scorn that leap from my heart to my mouth. When I see pictures of Jesus, I don't feel love, but a childish pain of rejection.
Recently, however, I've been traveling through Europe.
Traveling long-term on a budget requires a lot of time spent in hostels where I'm surrounded by people. It's a great social experience, but when I want to sit down to meditate, there aren't many options.
Two months ago when I was in Paris, I went to visit one of the churches mentioned in the book The DaVinci Code. While I was there, I realized, "This would be a great place to meditate," and so I did.
Regardless of any other opinions my personal self might hold, it can't deny that those Christians knew how to build temples of worship.
Since then, I've been making a point to walk into as many churches as possible whenever I walk by one. I find the quietest, out-of-the-way spot and do 10-20 minutes of meditation.
The more I do this, the more I find myself enjoying the churches and the less I feel that childish pain they used to evoke.
I'm experiencing healing and I'm doing it somewhere I would never have expected.
Plus, my petty ego gets a nice little kick from the fact that I'm chanting yogic mantras in a place where I would have been burned at the stake for doing so, just a few hundred years ago.
Obviously, there's still work to do... but progress is progress!
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Michael Cahill-Manchester
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Realizations of a Recovering Catholic