I have never kept secret, well too much, but in this case, my shame on Catholicism despite being raised going to church every weekend and attending Catholic school.

I think you get to know the obvious lapses I have…belief in birth control, sex before marriage – lots of it, being able to marry whoever you love and, if necessary, due to extreme circumstances even divorce – though probably not for myself.  I would rather not get married than have to walk away from a marriage.  Though it know there are very valid reasons to do so.  I also swear a lot.

What you don’t know much about is how I do pray to God every night, even when angry or horribly disappointed.  I thank him (or her) every night for the people and dogs in my life.  I do the sign of the cross in my car when I drive by bad accidents.  I pause in thought at the sound of ambulances.  Most of all, I treat others with kindness and compassion.  It may not always be immediately as it contends with my fiery Irish spirit but when the embers cool, I find my way to an abyss of empathy.  I have very deep rooted morals, my blacks and whites of doing the right thing.  When I have sinned, the mental flogging and penance I put on myself is more than you could likely endure and still get out of bed in the morning and carry.

My fear of death is rooted in a true fear of going to hell for the things I only admit in my head and never to any of you.  I believe everything I suffer as an adult is deserved for something bad I have done, even as a child.  So you must be able to make the connection between all my  suffering and realizing as you read this what a truly terrible child and overall person I believe myself to be.  When you think I lack self awareness for something I have said or done,  you could not be more wrong in your assessment.

Just the other day, I went to light a prayer candle and couldn’t find the fuse they insisted I use.  So I accidentally extinguished someone else’s prayer trying to light mine from theirs.  I added extra Euros and lit them a new candle but I will carry that with me, horrendous guilt.  In fact, I plan to light a new candle for them every time I enter a church as penance because I don’t want their person to be forgotten about.

I write this to you while sitting in a church in Sablon in Brussels.  Sacrilege?  Probably.  But what I have come to learn is that I feel at great peace when sitting in these old churches.  It’s meditative.  It’s the service I take exception to because I resent being told how to act and feel by old white men who preach belief in a book which may or may not be true.  I also loathe the Catholics who sit here for an hour each week and then think they are exempt from the real teachings the rest of the week.  There may he a sentence or two in the good book denouncing homosexual acts but there are thousands of pages about love, acceptance and forgiveness.  How convenient it is to grasp for life onto one sentence and ignore everything else.  It appears to be what our country is founded upon.

But sitting here, I feel closest to my God, whatever that may be.  I was probably meant to be somewhat Quaker but they can’t drink or buy nice clothes so I don’t fit them either.

I sit here, close to God feeling 50 pounds lighter on one shoulder and 50 pounds heavier on the other one but still, serene, safe and sane.  Thousands of years ago, people came together in belief, right or wrong and built this masterpiece of space.  Their eyes and hands meticulous in detail to make a space to honor their God.  I get the privilege to sit here and honor mine.  And yes, mine is a HUGE part of who I am.  You just never knew that before.