Many folk regard religion and the practice of the Faith as a pathetic crutch, used by people who cannot face the reality of human life. The prospect of an afterlife in particular is seen as a denial of the finality of death.
I’m lucky in that I have known many fine religious folk who have a depth of joy and peace which is simply impressive, and who do not shirk from the vicissitudes of life.
The old man is telling his beads,
Conscious of the weight of years,
And a fast reducing mortal span,
Thus playing on his human fears.
In spite of infirmity’s many pains,
He doesn’t want his life to end,
And hoping for continued days,
Perhaps a chance to self-amend.
The life force strong in him still,
Though his days of feckless youth
Long gone, save remembered sins,
Which unnerve hindsighted truth.
Is he now redeeming wasted hours
With a monkish contemplation?
Fearing a vengeful god who waits,
Eeny-meeny, who’s for salvation?
Should we tell him: save your prayers,
Throw off the crutch of godliness!
Be content in your precious moment,
Accept your memories without the fuss?
Wherein is freedom for this soul?
And peace for his twilight years?
Is it kindness to debunk his faith,
And man him up to face his fears?
Or is there a loving God in there,
Who fashioned us with clear intent?
Who crafted the ways of our heart,
And gifted us Word and sacrament?
Which came first, crutch or God?
And can religion really liberate,
To Lourdes-like set us on our feet?
Which is easier: to love or to hate?
What crutch is it that spurs us on
To face our past in redemption’s light,
And take up cross and follow Him,
A gospel story that’s never trite?
If religion is used as a crutch,
It is religion misunderstood.
His call re-echoes: ‘stay awake!’
Founded on brave martyrs’ blood.
I watch him as he says his prayers:
I love that man for his simple trust.
Childlike but never childish, he
Knows something denied the sophist.