I grew up Catholic. I remember every Sunday at church thumping myself thrice on the heart with my closed fist whilst repeating “Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.” These words translate as “My fault, my fault, my greatest fault”. I talk to my brothers and sisters about this memory, and am surprised that they return blank stares – they have no strong recollection of it. Some Catholics love this part of the service, as it asks others to pray for them and acknowledges publicly their failure to live as they should. For me, who was never destined to remain a Catholic, it was neither my favourite nor my least favourite. It was just part of doing what was expected of me, at which I excelled.
The heart is the centre of our feelings of compassion, love, self-acceptance and forgiveness. By tapping on it we wake it up and tell it to listen. “Mea culpa” then embeds a strong guilt imprint directly on to the heart’s natural expansiveness. Making anyone, let alone an impressionable young child, repeat this act at least once a week, year upon year, feels to me like an unpardonable transgression.
I am angry that I was taught on a regular basis that I have sinned most grievously – in my thoughts, in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do - that I was born with original sin on my soul – the built-in urge to do bad things, and to disobey God. I certainly admit that I am a flawed human being, and I am not proud of some of the things I have thought, and done, and failed to do. I feel that one of my greatest “sins” has been to subjugate myself, to not let my light shine - to be anxious and worried and small and fearful about many things.
I remember from a very young age sitting in the church pew thinking that a lot of what they were saying didn’t make sense. How could God be a man? God was just God. I was fairly sure God did exist – just not in the way the church seemed to be teaching me. At the age of 16 my parents gave me the choice of whether to continue with church, and since that day I have attended only for baptisms, weddings and funerals.
Church was so boring, so repetitive. The singing was OK, if a bit dreary. The costumes were beautiful in their ornate archaism, the incense swinging in a brass thurible from the hand of the altar boy magical. The Sacrament of the Eucharist, where the priest drank of the wine then wiped the gleaming brass chalice and ate the sacramental host was so reverently executed. What a pageant!
Was God present? I believe so. Partly because I believe God is present at all times in all things, and partly because we feel his/her presence more strongly when we come together in ritual and ceremony.
As an adult I had felt powerless to undo the brainwashing I underwent as a child and which has insidiously plagued my life. No wonder Catholics are so good at guilt! But perhaps I was one of the lucky ones, because I remembered about the body programming.
In trying to find out how to remove the guilt-edged imprint from my heart, I discovered EFT. It was the answer to my question: “How can I extract the poisonous phrase I have anchored in my heart?” EFT is helping me to become more and more engaged with life, and with who I really want to be. Adding my full heart energy to life and to the world seems to me to be a worthy gift to give. In fact, it feels to me like the opposite of sinning.