Posted September 9, 2007 by spiritualyouth
Categories: Catholicism, Christianity, Fear

An 18 year old female explains how she turns to religion when she is afraid.

I am born Roman Catholic but do not attend Church on a regular basis. I would say I believe in God, whether this is because I was raised to do so or out of fear, I cannot tell. That’s a little frightening so I live my day to day life, I’d say, without God, although when I am in a seriously frightening or complicated situation I automatically find myself praying to God… but again, it may be out of habit. Maybe this is because I find comfort in believing that some greater being will get me out of a tight situation that I have no power over. I’d probably say I live in the moment, I don’t like to think too much of the future or after death because I inevitably can’t know.

Is the association between fear and God a primarily Catholic, or generically Christian phenomenon? With so many biblical and traditional threats of eternal consequences, it’s understandable that one may have these feelings of latent fear. She believes because she’s afraid not to believe, as she only turns to God in times of fear. This does not seem like the most positive relationship with religion.

It’s Back!

Posted September 9, 2007 by spiritualyouth
Categories: Uncategorized

Sorry for the long blog posting delay, but I am planning to continue Spiritual Youth to the best of my ability during the year.  Keep the responses and discussions rolling, don’t hesitate to spread the word and link your friends.

Best wishes to my readers, and continue to share your personal quests wherever you are, and wherever you are heading.

Wrestling with Faith

Posted August 7, 2006 by spiritualyouth
Categories: Catholicism, Christianity, Finding Faith, Loss of Faith

An 18 year old male questions his faith, and is reassured.

For most of my life, I have been a devout Catholic. I’ve been baptized, had my First Communion and Confirmation, going through all of the rights a Catholic would have gone through at this point. Over the past few years though, things have changed dramatically, and the spiritual side of me seems to fade away from time to time. I don’t attend Mass as often as I should, and haven’t been completely adhering to the Laws in the Bible. It is mostly because, over the years, the things I’ve seen and experienced have led me to greatly question my faith, namely the big one: how can God exist when there is so much suffering in the world? I couldn’t understand how God could allow people to suffer as much as they do, when they’ve done virtually nothing to deserve their pain.

I felt myself drifting away from religion altogether, which, strangely enough, didn’t bother me all the time. Every now and then, I would feel that I needed it to return, but it was usually just a passing thought. This predominantly happened around the summers of grades 10 and 11, when I was going through a particularly torturing (almost literally) time with some “friends” from elementary school. Anytime a person wants to hurt themselves, that is really the final way of showing that you question God’s existence.

Even after getting through these events, and moving on to better times, I still wondered how a God as good as He is proclaimed to be can allow things like this to happen to decent people. What I came to realize, though, is that the saying “it’s always darkest before dawn” can indeed be true. Those rough 2 years led me to find some great friends in grade 12, and since then, for the most part, things have been much better.

Things like this, or even smaller instances, such as two friends resolving a potentially “friendship-destroying” dispute (which has happened a couple of times now) have given me new eyes for religion. I am still not as devout as I once was, nor do I fully accept God’s existence, but instances in my life such as these have given me new hope that maybe God is really there, and that in the end, He will take care of everything. If anything, even if I don’t fully believe, I no longer doubt God’s existence, and am more open to Catholicism than I used to be.

Like previous responses, this contributor needed his own form of personal validation to be certain of his belief in God. When one is taught religion as a child, we are generally taught that God is great, almighty, and capable of doing anything. Eventually, as one gets older, they may discover that bad things occur. This may cause one to doubt and have a lapse in their faith. Like the story of Jacob who wrestles the angel and ultimately prevails, if one wrestles with religious doubt and uncertainty, and finds a reason to succeed, one’s faith will ultimately be stronger.

Maybe They Should Read The Whole Thing

Posted July 22, 2006 by spiritualyouth
Categories: Christianity

A 17 year old male expresses his experience regarding homosexuality and the Bible.

Well, as you know, I am gay, and I came out to my parents a while ago and they did not take it well. They gave me many anti-gay speeches, but the one that will stick out in my mind is this one.

I came home one day, I was in town visiting or something, I get in the door, and my parents said they wanted to talk to me and I knew exactly what it had to do with, and I hate those conversations with my parents because my mom cries, and my dad just pisses me off and makes me hate him even more. Now, I must point out that my parents have not attended a church service for a long time, and did not raise me religiously. But when the conversation started, they pulled out the Bible, and they had pages marked with Lottery Tickets (that just shows how religious they are), and the proceeded to read my several anti-gay quotes from the Bible and told me that it was wrong.

That has obviously twisted my view on God and the Bible. I personally believe the Bible is all fiction, and it has been translated so many times that is has lost its original meaning. I do not understand how people can live by the Bible, especially since it is extremely out dated to today’s morals. I think religion just adds to the many tensions in the world because of religious wars and discrimination.

I mean no disrespect to the parents, but it seems as if they are utilizing the text of the scripture as a means to justify their opposition to homosexuality. Instead of talking as a family, his parents are using the Bible as a shield to avoid dealing with their son directly as a person. If they were a deeply religious family, then their use of the Bible might have some validity. But they are not a religious family. (Lottery tickets in the Bible? Blasphemy!) I feel that turning the Bible into a club to beat some sense into their son to be hypocritical and inappropriate. It is not the religious text per se, but taking the religious text to extremes that initiates conflict.

Little Miracles

Posted July 3, 2006 by spiritualyouth
Categories: Catholicism, Christianity, Finding Faith

A 17 year old male contributes his faith restoring story.

I used to go to school in England which was a school and a monastery as well, and it was Catholic. So everyone had to go to Mass every Sunday, even if they were non religious or of another religion. I’m a Muslim by birth, but I don’t practice religion in any way, but nonetheless I am a religious person because I strongly believe in God.

So we’re on our knees during the Eucharist (when the priest is talking about the body and blood of Christ), and my knees are really beginning to hurt so I’m really hoping that this would end soon. So as many of you may know, at those kind of moments when your knees hurt during the Eucharist (which goes on for about 15 mins), you wish you never had to worship or pray or anything like that.

I start thinking to myself, could God or Jesus really exist? How could they prove it? How could I prove it to myself? And I decide to test God, to prove himself. And even though it is clearly stated in the teachings that one must never put the Lord our God to the test, I decide to do it anyways out of mere attempt to amuse myself (while I was in mild pain in my knees). I look at one of the 20 monks that are standing near the alter and this is where the weirdness happened. I WANTED to say/think this “God, if you really exist, then make that priest pick his nose” and I was conscious of the thought that I wanted to think of. But before I actually “thought” of the phrase itself, to my huge amazement, I saw that the priest had very subtly lifted his arm and scratched his nose. I was in disbelief!!! I couldn’t believe it. And I hadn’t even phrased the thought properly in my head, but I knew what I wanted God to do. It was that quick. It just suddenly happened and I have to say, I was seriously blown away.

Now those of you reading this, who are more skeptical, right now may say that this is just a coincidence and its very insignificant. And yes, I admit that it is a very small “miracle”… no life was saved by this act of nose picking… it’s not something to write to the papers about… it’s not anything that I would talk wildly about. But nonetheless, it is still something – is it really a coincidence? Could it be that exactly at the time that I was thinking of that thought, the priest realized that his nose was itchy? Perhaps it is… but at the same time, perhaps it’s not. Of course it’s not a huge sign from God, which has caused me to change my life forever and become a very devout Catholic. But, personally for me, it is a little something that keeps my faith going… something that makes me think that there really may be someone/something greater out there.

This is a funny story displaying the transactional nature of prayer. Similar to previous posts this conception of ‘prayer and response’ is the defining attribute of faith for some people. Do we all need a form of personal proof or reassurance to accept faith? The wonder and mystery that are components of faith can reveal themselves through spectacular demonstrations or through mundane and simple occurrences like the monk “scratching” his nose. 

Feel The Presense … Or Not

Posted July 2, 2006 by spiritualyouth
Categories: Christianity, Evangelism, Loss of Faith

A 23 year old female shares her skepticism about external faith without faith in one’s self.

Other people’s beliefs always affect people whether we’re aware of the effects or not in our lives. As human beings, we become aware of ourselves at a young age as we begin to question everything including the questions that no one seems to have answers for. Why am I here? What is my purpose?… What happens to me after I die? Scary questions to children, but they remain frightening concepts as we become adults. The un-answerables that will remain so to even the wisest of us all because there is no proof beyond what one feels. So, as children, we must believe what others impress upon us lest we fall into the vast depression and anxieties that we would be bound to if we were to continue to question ourselves in such an unproductive manner. We are raised in accordance to these beliefs, rules that are enforced which is believed to be right according to our parents. Even as adults, it still shows through as how our morals have developed and how we perceive the world. Our faith in religion might change, but the impression of others’ beliefs will always remain so.

A spiritual event? Not so much. I had a stroke when I was in first grade that paralyzed my left side of my body. I was in the hospital for a couple of weeks and had tons of tests taken to see what they could do to help me. Then suddenly- *poof* It cleared up. It left some scarring on my brain, but ,all in all, I was cured. A month later, I head out to Christian Faith Center with my aunt and grandmother (mother’s side) to see Benny Hinn, live! I was just a kid and was thrilled about the indoor pool that was at our hotel. I loved to swim. In any case, we get there and my aunt (grandma stayed at the hotel due to headache) drags me up to the stage where there’s a building crowd of people who want to get up there with Benny Hinn. They’re all screaming about miracles and what not, but my aunt gets the attention of the bouncer. He lets us up on stage with a line of others and we wait for Benny Hinn to finish talking. He’s yelling “JESUS!!” and “THANK YOU LORD!” and “I FEEL HIS SPIRIT HERE TONIGHT!” while I’m tugging on my aunt’s arm because I want to go and sit back done. Benny Hinn goes down the line of people on stage, placing his hand on their foreheads and saying “I FEEL HIS PRESENSE!” and yadda yadda. Then they would fall over. Okay, I’m a little kid. I start to freak out because there’s this old guy making these people pass out and now I’m really bugging my aunt to sit back down. He finally gets to my aunty, who’s hyper-ventilating by now, and she faints. O.O!! I look up at Benny Hinn and I just want to kick him in his shin, but he puts his hand my forehead. “The Lord has given you a miracle, child! You have been healed!” and yadda yadda. He then ends it with “I FEEL HIS PRESSENSE!! HOLY SPIRIT!” and gives me a little push on my forehead.

I stand there, looking at him because he’s beyond weird at this point. Benny Hinn pauses and tries again. He puts his palm on my forehead and says “HOLY SPIRIT!!”, shoving me again.

I kinda wobble, but still stand, now irritated at this old fart. He pauses again before poking my damn forehead with two fingers, but this time I push back.

He takes the microphone from his mouth, covering it with his free hand, and leans down to talk in my ear. “Just get off the damn stage, kid.” True story.

I’ve come to believe that faith in another cannot be accomplished without faith in one’s self. Knowing yourself completely is the key to establishing one’s faith for once you know yourself inside and out, you effect the outside world rather than it effecting you. Confused? Well, if I ever lost faith in what I believe, I lose faith in myself. Re-establishing my faith is far simpler than I think it is for someone that loses faith in an outside source because once you have that understanding of what and who you are, confidence in yourself is almost unbreakable. Weak moments, maybe, but never broken. Understanding that I don’t need a purpose in order to have a meaning other than a meaning to myself is the greatest faith I have because, without that, I cannot bring myself to believe in others.

What are people like Benny Hinn actually doing? Perhaps they are channelling the internal spiritual feelings of the participant to emerge and manifest externally. In the respondent’s case, she lacked the concept of how she was supposed to act on Benny Hinn’s stage. This demonstrates an important aspect of the relationship between spirituality and religious practice. If you do not have an internal faith, then it will not emanate to the surface.

Divinity Within

Posted June 19, 2006 by spiritualyouth
Categories: Finding Faith, New Age

A 26 year old male expresses a very personal conception of the divine.

I guess I have lost faith in the world a lot you know. Religion is all about controlling ideas based around fear to get people to live out their lives in fear so others remain powerful. I do believe in god, I do believe people are generally good, but they cop out all the time saying they are mislead by an idea. People, if you want to find god it’s in your heart. You are god, you are as divine as any fabrication of the imagination. You are smart enough to figure it out and everyone stop lying to yourselves. Who are you trying to fool. You know you are, you’re just not brave enough to face up to the responsibility of being divine – too much hard work when there are so many shiny distractions around, and it feels good to act wrongly doesn’t it. I can also tell you a few things about that. People, we are human at the end of the day, and if you’re happy just fooling around then fine, be happy doing that. But if you want to get to know god then realise you’re going to have to face a lot of home truths about your life and that takes a lot of hard work. Can you handle being loved loving yourself and loving others, and figuring out what makes you happy. I’m on the cusp of a spiritual change once again. It’s been a couple of years since I have been connecting to god. I had some important lessons to learn. But I’m back on the path towards my higher self once again. I’m feeling lonely on this journey again, hit me back if anyone has anything real to say. Peace.

This respondent speaks about his search, deep within himself, to find a connection to the divine. He suggests that we are all divine. If God is reflected in each of us, are we all connected to one another through that divinity? Abrahamic tradition teaches that we are all created in God’s image. Some interpret this metaphor to mean physical image, while others understand it to refer to God’s spiritual image of love, kindness, mercy, and forgiveness. In this sense, the respondent’s belief is not that far from the traditional Judeo-Christian-Islamic philosophy after all.