A Crisis of Faith on Easter Sunday

For me, faith was something that was taken for granted throughout my childhood. With my mom being a convert and working for the Catholic church, and my dad being a “cradle Catholic” belief in Jesus, the trinity and my salvation through the Church was always something that I didn’t just believe in – it was something that just was.

Many times, in my current stage in life, I find myself wishing that my faith was similar to what it was back then – not even unquestioning, as the idea of questioning such a cornerstone was something that wouldn’t even cross my mind. I often wish that my faith could be something that imbued every facet of my life, elevated my actions and directed my goals.

In reality, my faith is a constant struggle. It is something that gives me fits and starts, certainly not something that makes my daily motions easier. And I am learning to accept that. Learning to integrate that into my understanding of God, of life after death, and of my role in the lives of those around me.

It is struggle that makes man grow stronger, even if all that this man wants is to sink into his couch and enjoy the luxuries and comforts that the modern, secular society can provide. My crises of faith (which are far more often than I would like to admit) are chances for me to grow in understanding of who the God of my understanding is.

In a time where I have lived with people who I love and respect, people who have incredibly different faith systems from my own, I find that I am unable to sit in comfort with the beliefs that I grew up with. While there is the ever present struggle to believe that someone who believes in a different belief system than me will end up in Hell simply because of that difference, there are so many other challenges that I find myself confronting. The beauty that is present in their beliefs, their rituals and practices, and in their books. The kindness in their hearts and the generosity in their actions. The conviction of their beliefs, as well as their solidarity with me in their own crises of faith show me just how fragile my own religion is.

It is here that I find the struggle to be the most prescient. The conflicts that continually arise between my religion and my faith. For better or worse, I find myself to be a man of deep convictions – whether these convictions will change as the wind does is another matter. With this, though, is the convictions that I have in my faith that contradict what is taught in churches, cathedrals and religious communities. Many aspects of my faith are molded and shaped by the teachings of the Catholic church. At the same time, there are aspects that are shaped by Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism and others. Just as many Christian denominations teach that the relationship that we have with God is a personal one, I have found that my relationship with faith is in many ways similar to this personal relationship that I am taught to seek with God. All I hope with that is that it does not become so intertwined with myself that I cannot see God through my own ego and pride.

On this Easter Sunday, I continue to ask myself what it is that I hope for. The answer to that is not one that I yet have, and I am quite grateful for that. I find that the questions encourage far more growth and change than the answers ever do. On this Easter Sunday, I am grateful for a God that allows me to stumble through His challenges of faith, so that I may find Him. For when I do ultimately find Him, I fully believe that He will have His arms wide open for me.

Easter in Quarantine

              As we find ourselves in increasingly isolated times, self-imposed though they may be, I think many of us have found more time on our hands than we ever thought we would have. We begged and pleaded for it, whether to sleep, read, make it to the gym, cook healthy meals, read the bible more than three times a year (maybe that one is just me), or whatever it may have been. And now that we have it, it seems we don’t know to do with our most requested gift.

              As we burrow deeper and deeper into our quarantine caves (at least that’s what my apartment has become), I hope that we have found some time to burrow deeper into ourselves as well. When we go about our day to day life, we find ourselves immersed in events, some of which are trivial, some of which are important and some of which fall in between. These events, and the ubiquity of people around us, we find time for introspection to be very limited, if something that happens at all. When we do have some alone time, whether it be a commute, a few moments in the bathroom after taking the morning shower, watching the coffee percolate, or whatever may have you, those moments are often so rare that we take them as a release valve, as a moment to decompress and not think. With weeks of decompression now underway, and weeks more seeming to loom ahead, perhaps it is time that we again think.

              One of the things that I think many of us will be thinking about during this time of the year is Easter – whatever Easter may mean to you. Whether it means the resurrection of Christ, a day where you get some delicious chocolate, a day where a majority group of American culture celebrates their religious holiday while your religious holidays constantly get overshadowed and ignored, or simply another Sunday, it can be a time for us to look inward.

              When I think about this Sunday, Easter Sunday, I think about the story of a man who was resurrected. A man who was not only resurrected, but a man who is purported to have given our souls eternal freedom. If that sounds like something that is way too good to be true, don’t worry. I think the same thing every single time that that idea pops up in conversation or finds its way into my thoughts. I feel like it is selfish to hope for something after this, when I am already so incredibly lucky, so unbelievably fortunate, to find myself where I am today. Adopted, sober, brother to two wonderful sisters and son to two incredible parents, boyfriend of a woman who loves me; it seems like the most incredibly self-conceited and selfish thing to believe that there is a place, far outside my understanding, that is even better than what I have now.

              And that leads me back to introspection, to quarantine as a place to find that time to delve into our own inner cave. Perhaps I need to find the spot inside of me that makes me think that it is selfish to hope for something after this. I do not think of eternal life as hopeful, or idealistic (in the positive sense of that word), realistic, inevitable, or anything else. I think of it as selfish, and I am confident that there is a reason for that. When you think of a place after this one, a place where we are one with our idea of a Deity, of God, I am sure that there is a thought that jumps to your mind before any other. And there is a reason for that, just like there is a reason for my thought.

              Perhaps, as Easter Sunday finds its way into our homes, and we find ourselves with another day to think, this season of contemplation can become a time to discover what your reaction to eternal life represents.