For March, the book I chose to read was called, “Grace Without God: Finding Purpose and Meaning in a Secular World” by Katherine Ozment. The author discusses, the “Nones”, the “single fastest growing religious group of our time is those who check the box next to the word “None” on national surveys. In America, this is 20 percent of the population.” The author identifies herself in this category after an incident with her young son. After watching an Easter Vigil procession of a Greek Orthodox church outside of their Chicago home, her son asked her why they weren’t attending this event. She responds, “Because we are not Greek Orthodox”, then he asks, “then what are we?”, and she says, “We are nothing”. Which she writes is the response she would come to regret.
For many people, structured religion gives them meaning and purpose, living as close to God as possible. For others, the doctrine and strictness of formalized religion is the opposite of living close to God so they choose to belong to secular groups. Then there are the “Nones”, who don’t have any affiliation, sacred or secular. The “Nones” usually grew up in some kind of formalized religion but have since stopped going to church, moved away from their childhood religious community, or denounced their faith altogether.
For my task for this week, “be more attentive and conscious at church”, I ordered myself a guide to help with the readings/Gospel each week. I grew up in a religious community and went to church regularly, but I still do not know the order of the mass, the meaning behind some of the readings, or even why we do certain gestures during the ceremony. All that time in church and I was completely unconscious the whole time.
I remember watching the clock in church growing up, just waiting for it to be over so that I could enjoy my Sunday. But my resolution this week is to study religion/spirituality, hoping that I will find some meaning and purpose that was missing from my life before, to provide a life for my family where they don’t have to wonder “what are we?”, and to experience community in a way that cannot be replaced by other groups.
In the past three weeks to prepare for this resolution, I have researched churches in my area, switched from a church I didn’t really identify with to one that I really enjoy, applied for my family to become parishioners and have attended Sunday mass regularly. I have already gained something from the Homily each week and going to church doesn’t feel like a chore, I actually look forward to it. Getting off the “None” category feels good.
As a disclaimer* I am not touting religious affiliation to be the “solution”. Everyone’s journey with religion/spirituality will be different, whether that’s belonging to a formal religion or a less formal spirituality group. There are ways of gaining meaning, purpose, and community without becoming parishioners of a certain religious group. This week’s resolution is to find what that is for me, your journey will be different.
Also- I highly recommend Katherine Ozment’s book. I found it at my local library but is also available online.
Why is talking about religion difficult for many?
In what ways are you gaining meaning, purpose and belonging in your life?
Go in Peace !