The Catholic faith literally saved my family. I imagine it was a cold and lonely winter in Green Bay, Wisconsin when my grandfather arrived there with his father and mother, straight off the boat from southern Ireland. Second-class citizens still, even in the early 1900s. The wind probably blew harsh and cold, a far-cry from the wet winters back home. Snow can make you feel helpless and lonely, especially if you’ve never experienced it.
My grandfather’s father was looking for work, and found it as a traveling salesman, peddling all sorts of goods. And he was never home. Then tragedy struck: my great grandmother died of cancer, we think, and my great grandfather, whose brogue was so deep no one could understand him, even later in life, left my grandpa, just a baby, and his sisters, with the Catholic church. So you see, I might not be here if it weren’t for Catholicism.
But I never got into religion. Humble brag: travel has exposed me to so many different ideas of what spirituality is, I’m eternally confused on the subject. And totally OK with that. There are too many offshoots of offshoots to keep track of, all seemingly trying to scare the hell out of people into being good.
On the other hand, it’s hard not to feel that there’s something bigger out there. I guess most of us have some sort of desire to find out what that is.
That’s why I can’t say with absolute certainty that these faiths don’t include truths for those that follow them. There’s still inspiration to be found in institutionalized religions: like this Catholic priest, Father David Bergeron, who during the massive flooding in Houston brought on by Hurricane Harvey, found himself out giving mass and helping others in his kayak. “Doing little things with great love,” he said, “that makes [all] the difference in the world.” Hard not to find truth in that.