I Love Being Catholic and Practice Zen Buddhism

I love being Catholic, from the ritual of the Mass and the beauty of the churches to the focus on social justice. Each word has meaning, and each gesture brings mind, body, and spirit together. The Priest enters in procession, sometimes with incense and other times not. There are candles, songs, bells, recitations, readings, a homily, standing, kneeling, bowing, and a recession. Always at the center of the Mass is the Eucharist and that moment when I let go of myself and am fully open to being one with the body of Christ. We are in one moment a community with the entire Church and with all creation.

I love Sōtō Zen Buddhism for many of the same reasons. What is significantly different is the absence of music and the extended periods of zazen (silent meditation). Silencing my mind isn’t always easy, but it brings peace.Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 7.22.34 PMAs I sat Saturday night and tried to quit my mind of all the external distractions I recalled the meditative qualities of the rosary. Many people don’t like rote prayer, but I find them a way to calm my mind when I enter into prayer and meditation. I have frequently used it to shut down all the thoughts and words running through my mind. One might ask how a rote prayer shuts out words. Imagine having an annoying song stuck in your hear and the only way to get rid of it is to play music to change one’s focus. That is what the rosary does for me. It shuts down thoughts and words, worries and desires, and allows me to sit in silence. It is the silence that that I am at one time the most free and the most connected.

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