My House of God
Where I have felt the presence of whom I refer to as God
When people ask me what is my Religion and what Church I go to, I answer that Religion and Church to me are in my heart. Religion to me means to practice what you preach. Church to me is not a building but rather being compassionate, loving, caring and treating others with the respect and dignity we all want for ourselves and that is what Church is to me.
I have read the English version of the Quran I also know that it has parts that get lost in translation from Arabic to any other language. I have read the Jewish Torah and being raised a Christian I have also read the Bible. Does this make me some sort of expert? Not at all, what I can tell you is all the teachings of these books are the same. The commandments they talk about that God gave to mankind are the same. These books however get misinterpreted by radicals and extremists and these groups are in every religion and have been since the beginning of time.
I have a belief in a higher power, why? I may consider myself as creative but I would be delusional to think I could create anything remotely like what the Creator has created for us and in us. I cannot begin to imagine that I am on a level to this higher power, Creator or being in anyway shape or form. Yes I believe in the power of the universe, Dr. Seuss and Mother Goose and I also believe that the God as I choose to call this higher power, wrote a book of my life for me before I was even born. I believe that this book is sent with all of us, imprinted somewhere in our DNA and that the journey that we embark upon in this life is based on this book. This book however can be and is in need of being edited every chapter. The book has a beginning and it has an end, not one of us know the ending however and that is the excitement and suspense of it all.
During my travels I have had the opportunity to visit many beautiful cathedrals, churches, temples and mosques. Some of these places the doors were locked other than the time of service and prayer. Some places you would have no idea that it was a place of worship as they put up not a single symbol of faith. Some felt very cold upon entry and then a couple I was basically overwhelmed with a feeling of complete and utter peace within and being in the presence of my God.
Being raised catholic by strict parents this may shock you but my Father encouraged me always from when I was a little girl to go and seek how others pray to their God. I remember my Mother telling my Father that my Father and I had to go to church on Sunday. I recall walking with him past a Protestant Church and he taking my hand and saying to me “We are going to this Church today” and I said “but we can’t it’s a Protestant church” and in my mind all I could see were the “Hounds from Hell” coming to take me to their leader, and my Dad replied to me “a Church is a Church”.
I have a fascination for architecture, Icons, murals and these can be found in many of these Houses of Worship that the masses flood into on a Sunday morning. What fascinates me most is when I tell someone I have been inside a Mosque and they look at me like I am from another planet or that I went to learn flower arranging with the Buddhist’s in a Temple they look at me so strange.
Once I recall having a conversation with a Theologian a Muslim who converted to become a Baptist and not out of Conviction at all. He knew my love of animals and that I had three cats, that these cats were so very precious to me. He said to me “You know those animals you have they have no soul, cats, dogs animals don’t go to heaven”. I ripped into him and told him my cats had more soul than most people I knew and that I could not imagine a God who created these beautiful creatures would not allow them to go back to a heaven after they have been our good companions and protectors in life. He went on to make a remark also that only Christian people went to heaven…Seriously? We obviously did not read the same Bible because The Bible I read says that “In my father’s house there are many rooms” I recall saying something to the effect that next, you will tell me that in heaven there is a High Rise Building and that Baptists have the Penthouse and top floor, then all the other Religions go floor by floor below into the underground parking lot…..
Anyway back to my journey of finding a place for me where I would feel at peace with my God….As I said I was raised in a very strict Catholic home and I even went to a Convent School so you cannot get more Catholic than that. I went to Montreal on a business trip earlier on in my life and during my time there my Grandmother passed away. I was very upset and a client told me to go to a Basilica called St. Josephs, to light a candle and pray for her soul as that was all I could do at that moment in time, and so I did. If you have ever been to Montreal you know you cannot miss the majestic dome of the Basilica as you can see it for miles. I went to this place and I have to say as soon as I entered I felt like I was in the presence of someone very special. I felt at peace, I felt warmth around me, a very familiar feeling from a very long time ago. After that day every time I would travel to Montreal I would go and pay a visit, my spirit felt connected there.
In the years to come, I traveled back and forth to the Middle East. I had the opportunity one time to go with a brother in Law who was Muslim into my first Mosque. This Mosque I went to is close to the Citidel of Qaitbay on the Mediteranian Sea in Alexandria, Egypt called the EL-Mursi Abul Abbas Mosque where the tomb of a Sufi saint el-Mursi Abul Abbas can be found. Upon entering the mosque I had to cover my head and remove my shoes, why would I not as being raised a catholic we always covered our head to go into church when I was growing up, why would I not remove my shoes when I and people who come into my home are expected to remove their shoes and not dirty the carpet. The beauty of this mosque is not only the exterior which is exquisite but also the interior with all the hand carved wooden beams it is breath taking to see. What makes this place more beautiful is that upon entering this house of God I saw on one side of the entrance very poor people sitting and breaking bread with one another, eating maybe the one meal of the day they would have. To the other side where I saw people laying down, resting and sleeping. From what I learned it is like this 24 hours of the day, everyone is welcome here no matter how rich or how poor. I took all of this in and I said to myself I don’t ever recall seeing this in my place of worship, most places of worship I know are only open up to three hours on a Sunday Morning and the rest of the time the doors are locked.
If you have looked at my page here on SRN you will see my photographs from my travels and a lot of photographs I post are of around Lake Ontario and the Golden Horseshoe, Niagara Region where I live here in Canada. My Father was in the Knights of Columbus. When he passed away one of the Knights sent a card offering his condolences from a Monastery in Niagara Falls. I could not believe that on all of my trips to Niagara I had never seen this place. So off I went in search of the Carmelite Monastery. Let me tell you that this place is so beautiful it made me cry. For me this is where my God is, My Creator lives here. When I went into this house I was so at peace, I felt like I was being wrapped in a blanket of love. St. Teresa of Lisieux is honored here and Teresa is my mother’s name. Also in this house the Infant Jesus of Prague is honored and my father loved this statue of the infant Jesus as do I. The altar is carved out of wood and a majestic statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel watches over you. The grounds of this place are so peaceful and beautiful also and in the Gardens is a very tall statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus that I gravitate to as it is a statue that I feel the face of my God is looking down into my soul. So I gravitate to this house where my God lives whenever I am in need of having my conversation with God. I am not a practicing Catholic, meaning I do not go to nor do I have the need to go to church every Sunday. I feel I do not have to nor do I have the need to be surrounded by a lot of people one day a week to be or to prove to anyone I am a Catholic. Your Religious beliefs are exactly that Yours no one else’s. I do not think a religion should be forced upon a child. I believe when we are of an age that we understand we should be able to pick a place ourselves that we feel a connection to our God with. Some people don’t believe in a God or a higher power of any kind and that is their privilege, who am I to tell people what and whom they should believe in.
This is a Simple Reminder that no matter what our own personal religious beliefs are we should never force them upon anyone. We should teach our children to respect and acknowledge other religions and allow our children to choose what religion is right for them at an age appropriate time. I would encourage all of you to step out of your comfort zone and just go take a look at the house of someone other than the one you are used to going to on a Sunday Morning.
Love and Light Everyone
The Way I See My God