My Religious Resolution: “If It Takes You Away from God, Let It Go”

My Religious Resolution: “If It Takes You Away from God, Let It Go” January 3, 2017

“It seems to me we need to rebuild our whole notion of religion from the bottom up. All too often religion—and Christianity in particular—has focused on continually re-icing a collapsed cake rather than baking the bottom layers properly. In other words, we keep redoing the “fixings”: refining doctrines, moralities, beliefs, and belonging systems. But again and again they seem to fall apart, because Christianity isn’t primarily a moral matter; it’s a mystical matter that only works when the mind and heart operate with some newly installed “software.” Richard Rohr

I’ve been away enjoying the company of my daughter whose continued journey into full womanhood is a source of soul-replenishing joy and fascination.

And, almost just as importantly, soaking up the high octane “puppy energy” served up so lavishly and lovingly by her two energetic Pomeranians. Counterbalanced, I must add, by the the cat’s calming gaze and grace.

Unconditional four-legged love magic. My cup runneth over.

Wooed away from my daily routines, I began to feel my way around. To “sense” what things I truly missed and which had become rote and not entirely necessary anymore.

That held true for my new religion, too. I allowed my soul to speak. Sorted out the things that spoke to my spirit from the things that had disappointed or somehow not “suited” me well.

And one evening, something one of my most beloved spiritual advisors said to me, back during our RCIA sessions, bubbled up:

“If it takes you away from God, let it go.”

It was in answer to a question from someone else, a question about something that classmate was finding difficult to do. It may have been the Rosary, or a particular prayer, I can’t remember. But I do remember that answer, and the shocked faces of some of my peers and even some of the teachers sitting around that table.

He was the same teacher who had once asked us, “If they found Jesus’ tomb, were certain of it, and he was still in it, what would happen to your faith in Him?”

Again, there were gasps. And as we moved from catechumen to catechumen, teacher to teacher, the response was similar. It would mean there was no eternal life, it would destroy the foundation of the Church–things like that.

But I said I wouldn’t care. I would follow Him anyway, live His words. Wasn’t that what really mattered?

I had stumbled upon something that I also recently read in a remarkable book, The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind–A New Perspective on Christ and His Message, by Cynthia Bourgeault. She reminds us that the disciples and many others followed Jesus before he “was crucified under Pontius Pilate…suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day.”

They were changed by what He was doing and saying, even before He rose from the grave. Time and time again, Jesus rejoiced in the faith shown by people who didn’t know who He was. Who weren’t supposed to be moved by anything, let alone a bedraggled, wandering Jew who asked them a lot of tough questions and told them stories they didn’t entirely understand.

“Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed,” He told them once.

I wanted to get back to that. That feeling of being “called” by Him, the call that I followed into Catholicism. And which was gradually buried beneath a mudslide of bickering, breast-beating and nit picking in the Catholic media that almost extinguished it.

But how could I do that without leaving the Church? Or becoming one of those “pick and choose” Catholics?

Pope Francis answered that question for me. I should’ve known he would. It was while watching his visit to America that I decided to investigate the Faith more seriously. He had drawn me like a magnet. I felt bereft as his plane lifted off that runway, at the end.

He is the answer to my question, actually. Constantly pointing us back to that “call” I’ve been talking about. Reaching out to the same people Jesus did. Refusing to exclude even those who, according to those nit pickers and breast-beaters, would normally be shut out. Knitting together, rather than tearing asunder. Or trying to.

Our Lord embraced lepers, whores and tax collectors and berated the Pharisees to whom others bowed. Our Lord spoke freely to women as if they were equals. Revealed His mission, first, to a Samaritan woman of dubious character. And revealed His risen self to a woman first as well.

He asked me to join the Church He established. But my task, now, is to see through that layer of doctrine and dogma, straight back to the heart light. And carry that light with me wherever I go–perhaps to attract like-minded brothers and sisters to walk with.


And just as I was deciding this, as if to confirm it, I heard the song up top. It took my breath. I was instantly besotted. Transported.

Seek Him,” it repeats and repeats, with ethereal but heart stirring insistence.

Oh yes. And whatever is not Him…let it go.

Photo credit: Holy Heart, José María Ibarrarán y Ponce, 1896, via Wikipedia Commons.

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