Having spent half my life as a nun working at a Catholic College for women – Saint Mary’s in Notre Dame, Indiana – it wasn’t until I moved to New York City in 1990 and became a writer that I discovered so many people whose souls were nourished and saved without any religion at all.
And now, 20 years later, not only is my life richly full of ordinary people living extraordinarily meaningful lives (without religion), but I am beginning to believe that those seeking to save their soul without religion will soon become the fastest growing “religion” in America, possibly the world. I’m clearly not the only one who feels that way, either.
Losing My Religion
Last month, the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life released a report entitled “Religion Among the Millenials” which found that one in four 18- to 29-year-olds are unaffiliated with a religion, but also appear to be more spiritually conscious and driven than older generations.
Similar studies also demonstrate a growing trend away from organized religion by those seeking to enrich their spiritual lives. Church attendance among American Catholics is down to an all time low of 30%, and even lower in Europe. Among the other 70% are members of my own family.
We’ve christened all the great nieces and nephews in their homes surrounded by family and friends, baptized by their parents, and anointed by those surrounding them; the community that promised to love and help raise those children.
My nieces and nephews are among those free-spirited “millenials” who are certainly more spiritually conscious than I was at their age, even as a nun.
What It Means to Find Your Soul
So the purpose of this weekly column is to share thoughts on ways to save our souls without religion, live blissfully happy lives, and teach children to do the same.
When I talk about soul, I simply mean the inner life from which our best self emerges, or not. It’s the deep-seated consciousness of who we are and what we’re meant to do in this lifetime; the source of energy, the breath of life, the creative spirit, the intuitive guiding voice which leads us to a divine experience of life, if we listen and follow.
C.S. Lewis wrote, “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.”
In other words, we are not human beings on a spiritual journey. We are spiritual beings here on earth to experience how divine it is to become fully human. “Salvation” then, lays in the blissful fulfillment of our life which belief in God and religion may or may not facilitate.
Yes, I'm Talking to You
This blog is for everyone who’s soulfully serious about living happily every after; who believe in God and those who don’t. What you will find here is universal, non-denominational, soul-saving; something for everyone.
All that matters is what we share in common, not what divides us as morally and spiritually superior. Religious belief is not the only basis for a system of morality. When we listen to the divine truth within, we are fully capable of safeguarding moral values and following spiritual paths that revere all life as sacred and harm no one, animals included.
We are all bearers of soulful truths, called to become messengers of divine love on earth; but whether we do that or not, the choice remains ours and ours alone. Religion alone can’t save our soul, as corruption in Catholicism’s’ protection of pedophiles demonstrates clearly.
But once we discover our soul, our best self, and begin listening to its divinely inspired voice, saving it in any way we can becomes an inner necessity, with or without religion. At least it did for me.
Until next week, think about this: “May we open our hearts and listen to the Voice that constantly comes from within.” --Rumi
Karol Jackowski, Ph.D., became a nun in 1964. She's also been a college administrator, graduate of New York University, manager of a toy store, author of eight books, painter of religious folk art, and sister to everyone she meets. Please visit her website at KarolJackowski.com.