OUT OF CATHOLICISM
I always had a certain
mystical sense, going back to early childhood. Whether it was looking at the sky and
gazing at the clouds or seeing distant snow covered mountains, I knew in my heart that
there was a higher consciousness behind the world. I felt a sacred and wonderful mystery
from which we had come and to which we would return after our short sojourn on this
strange planet. The human world seemed like a confined sphere, a
prison filled with conflict and suffering, marked by the clash of human emotions, shifting
desires and instinctual needs. But beyond was a wide and beneficent universe with open
arms ready to embrace us if we would but set aside our human compulsions.
The question was how to reach that other realm or if
it were even possible while we are alive and active in this vale of sorrow. Though one
could glimpse that higher realm in quiet moments there was always the travail of the human
world in which one had to live, which seemed inescapable. I had trouble reconciling this
mystical sense with the idea of religion that I contacted through my Catholic background.
Both my parents grew up on dairy farms in the Midwest of the United States (Wisconsin) and
came from strong Catholic backgrounds. My mothers family in particular was quite
pious and a pillar of the church where they lived, following all the church observances
and donating liberally to its causes.
One of her brothers was a priest, a missionary in South
America, and he was regarded very highly, pursuing a very noble and holy occupation.
Generally one son in the family would become a priest. My
mother thought that I would become the priest in our family. I did have a religious
disposition and for most of my childhood tried to be pious, but somehow I couldnt
really connect with the church or its beliefs, which were as frightening as they were