Walking the Path, Tripping on Catholic Roots.

I.

I’ve mentioned before that I have a deep love for Catholic mysticism and monasticism. It is, in a way, much more of my heritage than ancient Gaelic polytheism or Italian polytheism. After all, the family I was raised in was Roman Catholic. My grandparents and great-grandparents were Catholics.

I am not theologically a Roman Catholic, however, or a Christian of any sort but I love how Catholicism has kept a cult of devotion and of mysticism within our Western culture.

I work in a very Italian-American neighborhood. There is a Catholic chapel near my work that is full of statues of Mary and the saints. There’s an almost gaudiness to the statues but I have grown to deeply love it. It’s a modern survival of practices of religion that came over here from Europe and is not often found in America. You can see old Italian women wearing veils on their heads praying the rosary there.

I love the cult of devotion to Mary.

On feast days of particular saints, the streets shut down and there are processions of statues with marching bands and explosions of confetti. I love to see these old cultural expressions of devotion live on.

I like to remind myself that these practices are slightly outside of the Church. Largely speaking, the devotions to Mary or the saints are approved by the Church but they are not part of the Mass or the Sacraments. They are, of course, widely accepted practices, but they are generally lay-led, not organized by the Church.

They are intimate, personal expressions of devotion that are a part of Catholic culture.

II.

I find that I personally relate more to Catholic forms of devotion than I do many polytheist forms. Last year, I tried immersing myself in traditional Hellenic, Gaelic, and Hindu forms of worship. Honestly…I just want to pray. I want to focus on contemplation. I’m not as concerned with offerings as I am with offering my heart. I personally find a focus on ritual purity to be distracting.

I appreciate that others are able to connect to their gods and spirits in these ancient ways but after trying it this way for a while, I feel as if they are a hindrance to my devotion.

Ultimately, however, it is about worshipping the Gods. It is what They want, not what I want or feel comfortable with. I have not been communicated with directly in a way that indicates They want anything more than prayer from me. If They want offerings of mead, I will provide it gladly. But I wonder if it’s necessary for Them.

This makes me question whether or not providing physical items for offering/sustenance to a deity makes that deity feel more real for worshippers, more embodied, more ‘in-the-world’ rather than transcendent.

As always, I have no answers but I keep walking the Path.

 

~ by sacredblasphemies on 01/02/2017.

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