I used to say that I did not believe in God.
There are so many different religions, each with unwavering confidence that their God is the true God. Their way is the right way.
They can’t all be right, I thought.
I am a confirmed Catholic, because that’s what my mother wanted. This was not because the Catholic church had been a particularly positive influence in her life (in fact, she has horrible memories of the nuns in school). Still, she felt obligated. She said she wanted to offer it to us, as it had been offered to her. We could then choose to subscribe, or not.
I chose not.
There were too many rules.
I couldn’t believe in a God who would forsake those who didn’t believe – or those who just weren’t sure. This seemed completely illogical. Could a “father” condemn his own child to hell….for any reason?
I saw people who were truly unkind, but seemed to feel absolved of their bad behavior simply because they’d gone to confession.
Why would God condemn the kind hearted disbelievers to hell, and welcome the cold hearted believers to heaven?
Not my God.
My mother’s cousin was a Catholic priest. For this reason, as a teenager I was immediately distrusting of him. I completely stereotyped him based on his calling. I deemed him narrow-minded and judgemental, despite all evidence to the contrary.
It wasn’t that I didn’t love Father Shawn. It was just that I had pigeon holed him. How very ironic of me.
The older I got (thus more mature and more willing to actually listen to him), the more I realized he wasn’t like any priest I’d ever known. He was incredibly liberal and open minded. He didn’t believe in the institutionalization of God.
He just believed in God.
I learned he started the very first Gay & Lesbian group for students on the campus of Villanova University, where he worked. I had made assumptions that were indeed wrong.
Humbled, I softened.
I listened more, but the finest bit of Father Shawn truth came to me after his death.
He passed away three years ago. A few months later, I was talking with my mom about religion. She said to me, “You know, Father Shawn didn’t believe that God was a figure (a man or otherwise) up in heaven. He believed that God is LOVE.”
God is Love.
Nothing has ever rung more true to me.
God is love.
Love is God.
Love is a God that I can worship.