By Sarah Anne Jones
When I was growing up in the 1950’s and early 60’s my family attended a Catholic Church. I remember the priest telling us that it was the only true church because it was created by Jesus Christ and that it was still the same after all these years. He was saying that the structure of the church had never changed. I was naïve, to say the least, and I believed what I was being told. My parents didn’t tell me anything different, if they even knew that wasn’t true. I wasn’t able to google and fact check it!
There were very strict rules and regulations in the Catholic Church, not only about actions but about thoughts, too. We were told that we could sin just by thinking something that was wrong. There was a lot of instruction about sin and we were told which ones were mortal sins. We were discouraged from asking questions and thinking for ourselves. In our catechism, there were questions and answers and we had to memorize the answers and not come up with our own answers. I remember at one session when another child referred to their Dad instead of saying “Father” and the priest reprimanded the child. He was told that he needed to respect his Father. But another time a child said mom and wasn’t told to say Mother and that she deserved respect.
One of my sisters married outside of the church and we were told to pray for her everyday so that she would come back to the church. If she came back to the church then she could go to heaven when she died. I worried about her and other people that I cared about who weren’t Catholic. I was told that only Catholics (if they died without moral sin on their souls) could go to heaven. There was no mention of reincarnation and that we might have more than one lifetime to become a good hearted person.
Then I grew up and moved out into the world and Vatican II happened with changes, such as being able to say the mass in English and not Latin. I realized that the priest had actually lied about the history of the Catholic Church. So at age 21, I left the church and have never returned. A fact I found recently is that 52% of Catholics leave the church permanently or for periods of time. I wonder if that means that some people are starting to think for themselves and not believe everything that they are told in the church. There are a large percentage of Catholics who use birth control even though they are told it’s not allowed.
I did belong to the Unity Church for a period of time and that was mostly a good experience. They focused on positive thought and love as the message from The Christ. It was where I experienced meditation for the first time. But their focus on positive thought at times discouraged people from really exploring their emotional wounds so they could heal by releasing them rather than just ignore them. When they were ignored, they had a tendency to pop up at times and create issues in relationships.
Slowly, I realized that a spiritual path and not a religious one was the right path for me. I have been studying the Ageless Wisdom Teachings for many years now. It looks at the Christ and Buddha as important spiritual beings. It also encourages pondering what is presented and deciding for one’s self whether or not to accept what is being taught.
As a child I had been conditioned or “brain washed” by the Catholic Church, family, school, society, etc. I know that there have been positive results from these institutions; it hasn’t all been negative. I wonder, though, when churches, politics and businesses will start to tell the truth based on facts. I have to say I see corruption in all three areas. There’s a saying that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. If these institutions told the truth based on facts, would they lose their power over others?
During this election cycle, I thought a lot about truth. How can individuals state something as though it is true but if it’s “fact checked” it’s definitely not based on facts? When that happens, why do so many people believe something that is just not true based on facts? Could it be related to the beliefs that they have accepted and the way in which they came to believe them? If an individual was always told what to belief as a child and then never questions it as an adult, I feel they are more vulnerable to believing things that are not true based on facts. It’s also interesting that college educated people more often than others did check out the facts. I don’t believe that means they are necessarily more intelligent but that they have been exposed to different ways of seeing the world. Of course, if they have attended a college connected to their religion that may not have happened.
The Light has been showing us the corruption and ugliness in the world. It’s been hard to look at but if we don’t see it how do we know what needs to change? I choose to believe that the Light will win over the darkness. I choose to believe that not everyone who voted for Trump did so because they agreed with all that he said during the campaign. I choose to believe that a great many of the Trump voters were in pain and desperately wanted change and in their anger they disregarded his ugly statements. I also realize that there were Trump supporters who did agree with the truly ugly things that he said. The idealistic part of me doesn’t want to accept that but the part of me that is choosing to see what is real knows it is true and there are facts out in the world to prove it.
Will this be the time when people wake up to what is real in the world and choose to make a difference as they feel guided by the wisdom of their hearts? Time will tell whether Trump will bring about the change that his voters were promised. We’ll decide if the cost we pay for these changes is really worth it. We do need to give him a chance, but if that change isn’t the change that everyone wants, then we need to speak up. Let’s start telling the truth based on facts. And I encourage everyone to be willing to look at their beliefs in many areas of their lives. Then I hope they decide if they are really their beliefs or were these beliefs which they accepted from a religion, family, etc. without considering if that belief was right for them? And it’s not too soon to think about elections that will happen two years from now.