As you can tell by the post headline, I’m not what you’d consider, by any stretch of the imagination, a devout Roman Catholic, I do go to church on occasion. I believe in God (or whatever name suits you) and I pray. My family celebrates the traditional holidays. This year I got it into my head that I wanted to give up something for Lent — to understand on a more immediate level what it meant to sacrifice something.
I settled, at last, on M&Ms… a favorite of our household that I’m proud to say I have not indulged in since Ash Wednesday. Of course I was careful to make my Lenten sacrifice something I could manage — you’ll notice I didn’t give up all chocolate, just M&Ms… Hershey’s kisses, frosted cookies and Hostess cupcakes are still fair game.
Pretty sly of me, tricking God with a technicality, isn’t it? Do you think He noticed? And if so, I should at least get points for admitting my weakness, right?
Now you see why I’m such a bad, bad Catholic. I blame my early religious education since it was rather unconventional — I never learned the types of sins, never confessed before holy days, never fasted or gave up things for Lent. I came to think of God as a father, a friend, someone who loved me just like I was, and didn’t care all that much if I was in the front pew at mass every Sunday.
You see why I’ve never, ever been asked to teach CCD.
My experience over the last few weeks has gotten me to thinking about the way many people (myself included) bargain with God (or whatever name you give a higher power) for the things we want. A new job. A baby. A cure. The more vital the want, the more we’re willing to give in order to get it. I’m convinced all such appeals are heard — whether we know it or not.
It’s just that the answer can’t always be “yes”.
Though it’s hard for superior beings such as ourselves to admit, there’s a distinct possibility that addressing our silly (or sometimes life-and-death serious) personal concerns is not at the top of the list of “things to do” for whatever being created this universe. In the scheme of things, we’re probably not all that important; loved and protected to be sure, but perhaps viewed as children who don’t understand that the things they want with their whole heart and soul may be the worst things for them.
Because if God was really into the minutia of our lives, we’d all be in big trouble. Even the “good” Catholics sitting in the front pew.