Prose: the flight of angels//Opinion: On Sunday Masses.

WARNING: I don’t seem to know how to make short posts. Be warned of the coming 1700 odd words.

the flight of angels

He holds in each of his many hands the image of a bird’s egg, large and small and unique. He nurtures them; his fingers, the least of which holds the strength of the pillars of the world, gently caresses the brittle shell.

And at once, in uncountable times and spaces, the shell cracks. The eggs break one and a million at a time. The soft head peeks out with the vulnerability of any new idea, and his laugh is the sound of the cosmos colliding together in play.

He watches and never leaves as each reflection of a bird takes its first steps. The palm of his spans a thousand attempts. The fledgling newborn has much to conquer.

He smiles at each triumph. He frowns at every step. The faces of his are many, though one is overimposed on all.

And when the bird stretches its wings against the very tip of his finger, he smiles. It takes its first flight, against and with the songs of the air and of the tides. It stretches its wings and glides up and down and around. He follows the motions with his face; he keeps his hand open, ready to welcome the avian when it comes.

And it does, again and again, sometimes to feed, sometimes to sleep. It takes refuge when the airs do not provide the music that it seeks.

And one day, its nest is done. The bird, who had shone like the stars and fallen with them, takes its last flight, and fades into stardust.

The hand clenches once, twice. Then it opens.

(Sometimes there is only one, bound by one fate. Sometimes there are two –reflections bound forever and forever.)

In the background, the cosmos collide. The airs sing.

The hands close, and open.

Zero

Well, this post isn’t really about Sunday Masses. That would just be a waste of electronic paper. No, this post is more of what I feel during Sunday Masses, other prayer services and during life, in general.

When someone says “I don’t want to be Catholic” or “I don’t think Catholicism is for me”, is it a proper Christian response to say a threat (“I’ll strike your mouth!”) or a judgment (“You’ll go to hell for this!”)?

Because I thought religion was a choice; isn’t it?

I don’t want to be Catholic. I don’t even want to be religious. In fact, I consider myself irreligious. And before you judge, or hate, being irreligious doesn’t mean I’m faithless or godless (though there’s certainly nothing wrong with being an atheist). I still have a God, who I thank every night. I still pray to Jesus. What it means is that I don’t want to belong to a religion.

One

Maybe I was in grade three when it started; I’m not really sure. I remember being very young when I first started doubting Jesus, the Lord, the existence of God et cetera, and when I first began telling my friends I was an atheist (I’ve gone a long way since then). Those moments of self-doubt were probably caused by my introvert personality and solitary nature in elementary which in turn led to extensive reading and contemplation.

I am certain that the initial doubt helped better me. I imagine most people go their whole lives not questioning their faith. Perhaps that’s a good thing; perhaps not. I don’t know what ‘believing’ should entail, but now, at this point in my life, I am very uncomfortable with subscribing to something you did not choose to believe. Why is it so right that I am a Roman Catholic, when, in the lottery of birth, I could have easily been born a Muslim woman? I was conditioned since birth, through my baptismal and weekly masses, to be a Catholic. It does not mean I understand or want it –for what does a noisy child know of God in the form of masses? Did I understand the words of the priest then? No, it didn’t hold any significance to me. Was I blessed? Maybe, though I feel my noisiness could have led other practitioners astray. And I’ll grow up in the faith, because I was raised through it. 

Others accept their faith so easily. Most children say yes to their parents when they are told to pray, when they are told to recite the rosary. It is as accepted as basic arithmetic, yet not nearly as logical and reasonable to accept. And I, as a child who did not understand the point of masses sought to read. And I read, and I read, until I came upon conspiracy theories and skeptics. I was as malleable as clay. And now, I think: I was ready to be formed then. Who says that the one to form me into my belief should be others? Should it not have been me?

I can’t remember why I was a budding atheist then. I don’t remember what changed (I seem to have lost the diary I used all those years ago). But then–

Two

I was in first year high school when I read a book that in some ways shifted my perception to my disillusionment of Roman Catholicism. I can’t for the life of me remember what it exactly said (it was Neale Donald Walsch’s Conversations with God), but I recall briefly subscribing to pantheism, or something of that sort. I formed the opinion that we are all one and the same, making different religious sects unnecessary and even obstructive, and that, most importantly, we could connect with God without the need for an intermediating force, like, say, religious practices and traditions.

I’ve read texts on Buddhism, Islam, Taoism. The Flying Spaghetti Monster, Opus Dei. Most of them say the same thing, only in a myriad of practices and traditions. Be hospitable, be generous. Obey God/god/self. Love. 

[Is there any difference at all?]

And then I progressively became more aware of how narrow-sighted the Catholic Church can be –that is to say, its policies, officials and beliefs in general, mostly because I live in the Philippines, where the Catholic Church has a very strong presence and where other religious sectors are merely tolerated, or, in the case of Islam, feared and misconceived.

I take the Catholic Church’s stance against homosexuality, abortion and euthanasia as a personal affront to me. I may not be a lesbian (though biromantic) or willing to abort (personally I’d carry the fertilized egg to term and raise the child, or, if I’m in no state to mother a human being, have it adopted), but I still understand and care for the people who think that their beliefs are an unchangeable part of themselves or of their opinions. Sexuality isn’t an option and no one should judge people for the way they simply are. No one should carry a fetus conceived from rape, or bear a pregnancy that can lead to her own death or suffering. No child should live as a sibling among eleven, born to a family impoverished because of the lack of government support in terms of sexual education, education and job opportunities, simply because the RH bill won’t be passed.

Not everyone is Catholic in our country; not everyone is conservative. Why must the few suffer at the hands of the many, when there is no harm to the larger body? If dear Catholic conservatives believe that their Lord will see their children safe, then they should not be afraid that the moral upbringing and prayers of their children should fail them in the face of these Liberal Temptations. They should let those they deem faithless remain faithless, since to me, their idea of salvation –in the form of restriction and inequality of rights –is better off not given.

Freedom of choice can never be harmful.

Three

The Old Testament says that homosexuality/sodomy is immoral, in the same breath that it says working on the sabbath or disobedience of a child, including gluttony and drunkenness, are punishable by death. (I check the horoscopes; the whole world checks the horoscopes –obviously, we can’t all be abominations in front of the Lord). And yet what does Jesus say –what does the Messiah, who is the second God of the trinity to Christians, say?

He says, follow not the letter of the law, but its spirit. Obey not the technical guidelines of the law, but rather obey from the heart.

He says love one another.

And is there no easier way to love one another than to accept one another? Are the commandments of love God, love neighbor, love thyself, and the ten commandments to not steal, covet or kill not enough? We will all be judged in the end; no one has the right to judge the other.

Perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps, in the end, I will be the one who will be judged and found wanting, compared to the institution of the Church.

But in this time, this is my opinion.

End

Written in one of my diaries, December 29 2010:

I’ve never believed in collective authority when it comes to issues concerning morality, faith, belief. Who I am and what I do as a human being –these are things I must decide for myself. It’s not a matter of public or singular views. It’s not the Pope’s paradigm, or a spiritual council’s or even a celebrity’s. It’s not society’s right to decide what is and what isn’t for me. Not the general consensus. It is mine. When it does not deal with empirical facts that are impossible, useless or obviously detrimental to refute, then it is not the business of anyone else to dictate what must be the truth. The truth is mine. My truth is personal.

Perhaps you can suggest a belief, a truth. Perhaps I will believe.

*I apologize for the construction of the entry above. It should be “a religious leader’s paradigm”, “It is my right” and maybe “obviously detrimental to self” . 

Four

Added 01 January 2013, a year later

I’ve had countless opportunities to examine religion, faith and beliefs since the time I posted this. Most come from testaments scattered over the internet; some come from news reports and features in magazines. Right now I am, in fact, researching for a short paper concerning freedom of religion.

I was supposed to insert another line of rhetoric here; I realized it would be quite energy and time-consuming for my current state (it’s the first day of a new year).

Regrettably, I am still attending regular masses.

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