A Confession, part 14
At the time it was so important for me to believe, that I was able to hide from myself the lies behind what the Church was teaching. But there was only so much that I could do to read meaning into what was happening. There was a line that I could not cross, for, if I crossed it, I would no longer be acting in faith, but I would be lying to myself and to God. In so doing, I would be destroying my faith and not building it up.
I had a problem with special prayers for the king, as if the king was more important than other people, and with calling Mary the most perfect Mother of God. I had trouble with so much that encouraged war and tried to say our soldiers were more holy than the soldiers that we were sending our young men out to kill. I could not see how it was so important to say Jesus came back from the dead; and I did not know if I believed it. The most important holy days of the church were about miracles, and I could not see that these were the most important truths of the Church. This feeling that we were lying about miracles was strongest when we were doing things that the Church said had some magic in them, like baptism and eating the holy bread. Was I to lie and say that I believed in the magic, or was I to take no part in it? That was my problem.
I will never forget the feeling of pain that I had on the day when I first received the holy bread after many years away from the Church. I was happy with all that we did and said before it came time to take the bread. I could understand the eating of the bread as a way of remembering Christ and as a way of saying that we believe all that he said. I was happy to humble myself before the priest, who was a very shy country priest with very little education. I was happy to tell him of my sins and to be one with him, with the fathers who had written the prayers that we were saying, and with all the believers of the past. But when the priest asked me to say that I believed what I was eating was really the body and blood of Jesus, all I could feel was pain in my heart. It was more than a lie; it was a lie that someone had dreamed up to destroy true faith, a test to find out if I had more faith in the Church than in the truth.
It was not as clear as that to me at the time, and so, in the spirit of showing that I was humble, I went along with it. I ate the "body and blood" that day without knowing how wrong I was to join in the lie, and I did it because I wanted so badly to believe that what the Church was telling me was true. But the pain and guilt did not go away, and knowing that I must lie again if I was to again eat the bread, and drink the wine, I could not go a second time.
I did not stop following the other teachings of the Church, and I still believed that in them was the truth. But then something happened to me which seemed strange at the time, but which I now understand.
I was listening to a poor man one day who had been travelling from place to place for God. He could not read or write, but what he said about God and faith and life was true; I knew it. I listened to people who talked with him and what they said sounded true to me too. I had the same feeling when I read about the lives of holy men from the past. I did not need miracles to feel that I was hearing from God in the lives of these little people. Some of these people were, in the eyes of the Church, stupid men who knew nothing of the teachings of the Church. But in them I saw God.
On the other hand, when I tried to read books by the educated leaders of the Church, the fruit in my spirit was not good. My feeling was that the harder I tried to understand what they were saying, the more they were leading me away from truth and the more they were leading me closer to hell.
Chapters: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
Back to Jesus Christian's Home page