Someone close to me, who left the Catholic Church a long time ago, recently said something along the lines of, “I just got to a point where I felt like I was saying the words but they didn’t mean anything to me, I wasn’t feeling it anymore.” I can identify with this statement.
We’ve all sat in the pew, knelt on those kneelers and felt nothing except our own aching knees, moments where we pray and go to mass and don’t feel anything extraordinary, or really anything at all. Does this mean our faith is in vain or that the church is useless? When a woman stops getting butterflies every time her husband walks in the door, does that mean her marriage has lost value? Should she cut her losses and run? We encounter boredom and a lack of feeling in our relationships and commitments, big and small, because that’s a necessary component of what it is to be human. We are lazy and can’t feel the newness of every moment. I don’t think this indicates a lack of depth in the other or in the relationship, but in ourselves. The fact of the matter is that when it comes to faith, even though it is easy to focus on ourselves and what we are getting out of it, it isn’t about us. It is about Him. When we lose sight of Christ, we end up beholding our own ugliness and disparity and our ‘faith’ falls flat.
The word religion is a hard one to trace exactly where the meaning was derived from. Some say it comes from the Latin re meaning “again” and ligare, which means to bind or connect. The etymology points to a reconnecting between man and God, essentially, a relationship. For most of us, our relationship with God will have low moments, so the question remains: How do we respond to this?
Mother Teresa has left us a beautiful example; she also experienced a dry faith. She confided in a letter to her close friend, “As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great, that I look and do not see, — Listen and do not hear,” in reference to the Lord. We know how Mother Teresa responded; she didn’t leave the Church but pushed into it. She served the poor and worked for the Church and we are all the better for it.
Sometimes people say that religion gets in the way of their relationship with God, but when it’s done right our religion should be our relationship with God. The mass, confession, our community, these make up our relationship with Christ and when we find it lacking we should be willing to persevere. I think it worked out pretty well for Blessed Mother Teresa.