<The 88-year-old I approached this week preferred not to be submitted to a semi-formal interview. So instead, this is a reflection of what they decided to share of their deepest beliefs and doubts. Also, the interviewee preferred not to be photographed. They instead offered a rosary for a picture, which they carry with them in a tiny purse at all times, despite being ‘more of a Jesus than a Mary person’, along with the list of Mysteries, for in old age you may forget one. The interviewee explained that the Mysteries of Rosary help you connect with the suffering of a mother for the crucifixion of her son, and meditate on your sins, because for each sin Jesus is crucified once more. Upon parting, the interviewee gifted me another Rosary, because ‘you seem on the right path, and there’s no reason a Protestant can’t pray a Rosary, too’>
I have never thought ‘there is no God’, and never in my living days would I say, ‘there is no God’. I’ve been a Roman Catholic for 88 years. My family was Catholic. It goes a long way back. I haven’t always been a good Catholic. If you take an overview of my life, I probably wouldn’t be a perfect Catholic. You go off the rail, right? But you have a chance to get back in again. That’s what Easter is for. You sort of renew yourself. We fast; it’s a time to contemplate, become aware of your sins. Acknowledge them first, that you are a sinner, and then get rid of them. Empty yourself and try and do better. At my age, I just cut down on food. It’s not hard really to cut down on food, especially when you’re not feeling well. I haven’t always done that, I admit, but I can see the value of it.
You fast because you love God. What can I say – I do it for the love of Him. Because I want him to know that I’m glad that he’s there. And I always felt that way and I always will I guess. We’re still not sure [laughing], until we actually meet Him!
As you get older, you can see the value of religion, you know. It’s not just a word; it’s an actual thing, it’s actual. It’s something that everybody is involved in, whether they like it or not. Everybody’s gonna die someday and everybody’s gonna meet God someday, in one way or another. And I just want to be able to say, ‘I tried to do my best’. Whenever I realized who I was, I tried to do my best.
Religion is the truth. If anything is true in this whole wide world, it’s God. You can see the way the world is going now: we’ll never figure things out for ourselves completely. No one is 100%, except God. And I don’t know – he says he’s going to come again, and a lot of people say he’s gonna come soon. Some people say not for a long time. I don’t know when! I have no idea. The thing is, you try to live your life so that if he came tomorrow, you would be able to say ‘I’ve done my best’. And you need something to cling to! What is the use of anything if you don’t believe in God?
It seems to me that the world is going this way because people stop attending church. First of all, they took prayer out of school and I remember years ago somebody writing about the empty pews. People stop going to church. I don’t know why: whether the war was responsible for that or what, but people seem to lose faith, or the old-fashioned kind. And it’s probably because we don’t realize what God really is. We see him as a person, but he is not like us. He is all, everything. And if you realize that…it’s hard for me to explain. When I’m lying in bed at night I can see it quite clearly, but when I’m trying to explain it…
Of course God is in everything. But we don’t really know what he is like. We know Jesus, who’s his son. But he was like us because if he wasn’t like us we probably wouldn’t have recognized him. He told us what to do, how to live. And so, we just try and do that. And it’s not very hard once you get used to it, but the thing is when other people don’t, and you may feel, ‘well, what’s the use of me keeping going like this, I may as well join the rest of them’. I’m not a preacher, I’m not trying to convert anyone, but that’s just the way I feel, right?
People would be better people if you would recognize God, as if he’s standing right in front of you and asking, ‘why did you do that?’. Even so, I can’t say that I’m right. Because maybe it goes by the time. Maybe in another time what I’m doing now would not be right. So how would I know? This is where the trouble comes in. The thing is just to try to do your best, wherever you are, in your own time.
Love your fellow men, love your neighbor…Exactly like the ten commandments said, right. Love your neighbor as yourself. If you did that, there wouldn’t be half the problems. There wouldn’t be shootings, there wouldn’t be tire slashing…
I am talking about a good person. Are Catholics the only ones who go to heaven? I certainly don’t think so. A Protestant, they can’t help being born Protestant. If they’re a good person…Maybe we are that way: we have Catholics, Protestant, Hinduism, what else, as a test, to see how well we can get along together, make sacrifices for one another. But there’s only one God. And of course, our savior is Jesus Christ, and even I wonder sometimes, when he says – I’ve even asked our religious teacher this – when Jesus says that he is the way, the truth and the light, and no one can come to the Father but by me, so what about Muslims? What about everybody else who don’t believe in him? That’s none of my business. People take care of that…who am I to…I don’t know, why are you asking me, I don’t know anything about anything! The whole matter is, love your neighbor as yourself, if you did that, we wouldn’t have any problems. That’s basically what I’m trying to say.