A Matter of Faith

>I’ve been mulling over a post like this for awhile now, but I’m not entirely sure what I want to say.

I was raised Roman Catholic. I went to Catholic school from Pre-K through 12th grade; the only reason I didn’t go to a Catholic college is because they were all too expensive and weren’t willing to give me a big enough scholarship. I can remember going to church on Sundays when I was really little, but once we moved to NJ we went less and less. We became those Catholics who only go to Mass on Easter and Christmas.

I’ve always had a very strong faith in God. I’ve never doubted His existence, and I’ve always believed in Heaven and Hell. In high school and college, I started to question the traditions and authority of the Catholic Church, and I decided that I didn’t need to go to Mass or confession or anything to have a relationship with God. I still believe that to a point, but last year I started to really look into my religion and learn more about it so that I could make informed decisions.

This is still a work in progress, and I am certainly no expert on Catholicism, but I’ve come to really respect and love the traditions and rituals involved in my faith. I know the Church isn’t perfect because humans aren’t perfect, but I can’t let the bureaucracy get in the way of my beliefs. I’ve been going to Mass on Sundays for just about a full year as of next weekend, Easter Sunday. I know that I feel good when I go, and I look forward to it during the week.

I know a lot of people lose or question their faith when something bad happens to them, but I’ve been experiencing the opposite since my mom passed away. I feel like my faith is stronger than ever before and I have a better relationship with God than I ever have. I’m not perfect by any means, but I find myself wanting to be a better person, a better Catholic, because I can’t imagine not ever seeing my mom again. I know that the only way to do that is to be the best person I can be and do whatever I can to make sure I go to Heaven.

I’ve heard people complain that God doesn’t answer their prayers, but I feel that God answers every single prayer — it’s just that He doesn’t always say “yes” or give us what we want. Just because you ask for something and it doesn’t happen doesn’t mean that God is ignoring you. He’s saying “no” or “not right now” for a reason. I prayed almost constantly for God to take my mom’s cancer away, for Him to cure her, for Him to give it to me instead because maybe my body would be able to handle it better. When it became clear that that might not happen, I started praying for her to just live long enough to become a Nana to my kids. When THAT seemed like too much for me to ask, I started praying for her not to suffer. Unfortunately, she did suffer a lot in those last few days. I remember one night in the ICU, I couldn’t sleep, so I left the room and the ICU itself and wandered around the floor a bit. I found an empty lounge and I sat there and prayed more fervently than I ever have before. I asked God that if He had to take her, to please take her quickly. I prayed for her death to be fast and painless; I didn’t want it drawn out through days or hours. He answered this prayer with a huge YES because she only lived about 20 minutes or so after the vent was removed, and I am so thankful for that.

I also remember one night in the hospital, I think it was the day before she passed, when she woke up suddenly through the morphine, the ativan, and everything else. She opened her eyes wider than she had in days and looked up at the ceiling, where the wall and ceiling meet. She reached out an arm towards that area and just looked absolutely AMAZED at whatever she was seeing. I’ve heard of other people doing this toward the end of their lives and I believe wholeheartedly that she saw someone there, waiting to take her to her next life. She closed her eyes and went calmly back to sleep.

I don’t know why God allows suffering and pain, but I try to remember that his own son came here and suffered horribly. Our earthly lives are not meant to be 100% perfect and happy all the time, despite what modern society teaches us. We’re here for a very short amount of time to be good people and do good to others. People (and I am no exception) get so wrapped up in “What’s in it for me?” and “What can I get out of it?” People get upset when things don’t go as planned, or when they make a bad choice and God doesn’t fix it for them. God is not a magic genie, just waiting to grant us wishes. He wants us to make the right decisions, but allows us to have free will. I, for one, certainly did not plan to be motherless at 29, nor did my father plan to be a widower at this point in his life. I can almost guarantee that my mother planned on living longer than only 62 years.

“If you want to make God laugh, make plans.”

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2 thoughts on “A Matter of Faith

  1. >I wasn't really raised with any religion. I went to church with friends occasionally but nothing serious. I was baptized at 29 and that was because I wanted to be a godmother to my nephew. Its not that I don't believe in God, because I do. Im just not overly religious. I do believe that things happen for a reason. I certainly didn't think I would be fatherless at 19 but had that not happened, I wouldn't be where I am today. That doesn't mean I love the way every aspect of my life has turned out but no one has a perfect life. I'm glad that you are finding peace within your faith. I think that is important- especially if it is something you were raised with.

  2. >I know your mom was a strong believer. I also know that it was extremely difficult for you & your dad having to decide whether or not to take your mom off the vent. I know she struggled a lot with her chemotherapy treatments, and that it was horribly frustrating & unfair that she went through that, and it didn't help. Doesn't the Catholic church believe that people should do whatever it takes to stay alive? I'm guessing you, your mom & your father don't agree with that notion, because like you said, keeping your mom on the vent, would've only prolonged her suffering. I agree, that you guys made the right choice. I'm just confused, about the church's stance, on stuff like that. I mean, remember the Teri Shiavo case? People in the Catholic community were up in arms, over taking away her life support, even though she was in a vegitative state, and the doctors said, she'd never recover. I struggle A LOT, with my own situation, and how God might view my life. I feel like (it is a fact) I'm being kept alive through artificial means. I struggle with God's definition of "suicide" and being able to determine when it's "ok" to give up on life, in order to prevent prolonged suffering. There is no clear line, of distinction, I think each case should be judged on a case to case basis. In your mom's case, there was no "cure" available to her, and the treatments, only made her suffer more. It makes sense, and seems most compassionate, to have not kept artificially extending her life, and suffering, by keeping her on a vent. I know, you know how much I'm suffering, and the fact that I don't want to get a colostomy. Although getting one, might extend my life, I feel as though it would add to my suffering, and lower my quality of life. I know the Catholic church docterine, is against the idea of refusing nutrition/hydration (especially when the person can't decide that choice for themselves). I have no way to care for myself, including eating & drinking, and as you know, rely on others (aka-artificial means). Do you think God would punish me, for choosing to refuse help? It is a question I struggle with every day. You know I don't have a strong faith in God, but I do fear the possibility of making another huge mistake. It just seems so cruel, that God would want me to continue suffering, even though there is no cure, and no alternative available to me, that doesn't/wouldn't cause me added suffering. I'm curious to know what you think. I hope you know how much I love you & that I'm not trying to make you sad. It's been hard, to know if I should mention these questions, or thoughts to you, because I know you're already hurting, and don't want to cause you more grief. I do worry, and wonder, what you think of my situation, and the thought of me voluntarily refusing treatment. As your best friend, I obviously value your thoughts, and opinions, even though I don't share your same level of faith.

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