In the Library with my Crisis of Faith

I think I am having a crisis of faith. Or rather, I have plenty of faith but no idea what it’s telling me, what I should call it or where it belongs. In true Hermione Granger style, I’ve been rifling through books to try to come to terms with my introspection—but since I have no idea how I got here, even the library feels like a labyrinth. Books alone might not be the answer. Let me explain.

I was born and raised in the Republic of Ireland. In the 1990s, we were still heavily under the thumb of the Catholic Church. When I was born, divorce, abortion, and suicide were illegal, as was homosexual activity. The photographs from that time tell a story of the prominence of the Catholic Church—when Ireland went to the polls to legalize divorce in 1995, parades of the religious walked the streets, statues of the Virgin Mary held aloft, insisting that marriage is a contract before God and should never be voided. The fervor was intense.

I made my first Holy Communion in 1997; I was six years old. Small girls in white dresses paraded down the aisle to accept get communion. We were forced to confess our sins to a priest. At age 6, I had to make up sins—I was mean to my brother and I swore at the cat. We didn’t even have a cat, so then I had made a sinner of myself for lying. Each week we were sent to Mass and tested in the classroom; shamed if it was discovered that we hadn’t actually been. There was a lot of guilt.

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