By Anita Doberman: CNJ Columnist
I wasn’t very good about feeding my soul. I was great at feeling badly about my contradictions and doubts. My path to faith, which is more often than not ridden with questions, wasn’t easy. Whose is? Let’s just say that my favorite apostle is without a doubt, no pun intended, Thomas — if I don’t see, I don’t believe.
I was born and raised as a cultural Catholic — I lived just a few bus stops from the Vatican — and like many Italians went through the rituals and traditions. I strayed away during my teens. I wasn’t interested and had lots of questions to which I found no satisfactory answers.
Instead of rejecting spirituality all together, I dove into different religions. In New York City, I diligently studied Orthodox Judaism. I lived according to Jewish law, respecting the Sabbath and the dietary restrictions (truth be told, sometimes I slipped). As doubts crept in about my ability to live with such rigors, I considered joining a Conservative and Reformed temple for a while.
After I got married, I went back to the Catholic Church, but found myself attracted to Zen meditation and the emphasis of living in the moment and staying rooted – perhaps a consequence of the uncertainties of military living and many little ones? Whichever the answer, I studied Buddhism for a few years.
When we moved to Alabama, Buddhism and meditation weren’t very popular and I tried a Baptist church. My children were still too young for formal religious education, and I went through a time period in which I tried a church in nearly every Christian denomination, looking for a “home.”
I am not making light of the fact that being part of a church or a religion is a serious matter – in fact, that was my point. I wanted to be certain. In my search, which was often agonizing, I ultimately realized that there is no perfection, no ultimate and absolute answer except for the one that each one finds personally.
For me, I went back to my home, the Catholic Church. I didn’t go back embracing each teaching and beliefs. I went back with my imperfections and with the understanding that some things will always be tough for me. Certain church teachings just escape my comprehension. But, I think I can do something for the church and the church for me.
I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m part of this religion in my own way. I am glad I learned about different traditions and beliefs. I am convinced that there are many paths to the same destination.
During this season, when we feed our bellies and our material desires, I am happy to say that I am also feeding my soul. With my questions, my doubts and my unique way of being Catholic, which I hope my children will also find as they grow older.