There have only been a couple times in my life where I lost my religion. I've never really denounced my religion or stopped believing, but my religious beliefs kinda just got pushed to the side or forgotten about. I know I probably shouldn't admit this in writing, but what the hell.
So, the first time in my life when my religious beliefs were tested occurred when a friend of mine had an abortion. She came to me as a friend in need. I didn't know what to do or what to say. I was saddened by her choice. I was saddened by the whole situation--so much that I didn't know what to do or say. She had once been a good Catholic, so I encouraged her to talk to a priest about her decision. She refused and then told me that a good, just God wouldn't have let this happen to her. I was shocked by her comment. I was simply shocked by the entire situation. I had never had a friend involve me in such a matter. So, after that I had a hard time going to church. I told my friend that she had made the right decision, and that she wasn't a bad person for the choice she had made. But, deep down I did believe it was a horrible choice. If she had told me about the pregnancy in the beginning, I would have offered to adopt the baby. I would have helped her. But, at that moment, in her hours of distress, there was no way I could have told her that. I just sat and listened to her cry, and I listened to her pain. But, after that I really did feel very guilty for not telling her the truth. I couldn't go to church or pray for a long time after that. I'm still haunted by those moments. Sometimes I wonder how old the child would have been by now. I wonder if she thinks about him.
The second time I lost my religion occurred when I got caught up in myself. I got busy with work and a very busy social life. There just wasn't enough time in my life for church. But, all of that ended on September 11, 2001. On that day, I found my religion again, and it's never been challenged again. That day changed me as it changed most people. Prior to 9/11, in my world, things were just and good. Bad things only happened to bad people. I had a social contract that I was following. I would do everything I was supposed to do--work hard, pay taxes, behave decently...and in return, I would be rewarded. Everything was going as it should. I believed that bad things couldn't happen to good people. I believed that if bad things happened to you, it was because you deserved it--I believed the universe responded to your bad behavior by causing you hell. But, on September 11, 2001, my thoughts changed. On that horrible day, good honorable people burned to death or plummeted 80 stories so that they would not be burned alive. America was assaulted on September 11th, and I just couldn't believe that was possible. So, the Sunday after September 11th, I stepped into a church again--St. Anne's Catholic Church in Houston. It was a beautiful church filled with saddened people on that Sunday. I prayed during that week like I had never prayed before. I was sad, mad, pissed off, and confused. I found solace in prayer and in attending church service. I was comforted by the hymns we sang. I remembered them from childhood, and they soothed my soul with their melodies.
And, now living in Japan, attending English Catholic mass makes me feel at home. We sing the same hymns I sang as a child. We read the same scriptures and listen to the same homilies. It's like being back at St. Anne's Catholic church. It's like being home.