Thursday, September 24, 2009

A good friend of mine in high school, and a few of the years following, was Catholic by birth, tradition, and practice (at least at Christmas and Easter.) For a few years in a row I would attend his parish's midnight mass with him. I watched the pageantry of a Catholic Christmas with genuine interest. I enjoyed the beautiful singing, the colors, and the smells. It was fast becoming a tradition of my own. I used to joke that all I would have to do is attend the Easter Mass, and then I would be just as Catholic as he was.

I thought then as I do now, the religious path you choose is a personal decision, even if it is heavily influenced by those you love and that surround you. If you are going to be a Catholic, then be a good one. There is no sense in doing anything, unless you strive to do it right. If you are going to claim allegiance to the Baptist church, then be all means live by its principles, learn its doctrine, and otherwise fully immerse (pun intended) yourself in the experience.

When the time came to serve as a missionary for my own church, I threw myself into the experience with all the zeal I could muster. I was absent from the lives of those I associated with for two years. When I returned, I looked up my friend. He decided to become an active participant in the Catholic church. He was attending weekly mass, and trying to live his religion. I was happy for him and I could tell he was a happier person driven with genuine faith.

I have a peer today. For years we worked in similar trades. He was raised by good Mormon "Stock" (related to pioneers of the 1800's, etc.) For someone who is only slightly older than myself, he comes across as well seasoned and wise. When he talks I listen. One day he asked me if I was a Mormon or a Latter-Day Saint. I had never been posed such an introspective question. The answer I stumbled out half jokingly was probably, "I'm only good enough to be called a Mormon who wants to be a Latter-Day Saint." Not that I hadn't noticed my shortcomings long before our conversation, but his question helped me to refocus my attention on areas in need of repair. It was apparent to me, and still is, that I needed to be more "immersed" in my religion.

My point, and I do have one around here somewhere, is to state my intentions to use this venue to better define my religious environment and to fine tune my thinking as it pertains to any issue that dovetails with my beliefs, philosophy, and faith. Personally I want to embrace the journey to be a Latter Day Saint, and not just a Mormon. I have no idea what other service my monologues will offer to the world outside, but I'm game for the experience. To coin a phrase so often visible on our own meeting houses, "VISITORS WELCOME."

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