Growing up in a country where it is predominantly a Catholic country, I just basically followed the rules and did not really ask questions because everyone that I knew did the same things.
Growing up, I obediently paused to pray the Angelus at noon and at six pm like everyone else.
It didn’t matter where you were or what you were doing, everyone stopped and offered up a few moments to pray. I would kneel in a confessional booth to ask for forgiveness from the kid crimes I had committed against God and against another human being (or in my case many human beings). Then, the priests told me that I had been forgiven and I needed to say the prayers I was told to recite and told to sin no more.
When I was a kid, it was easy to conform to society. I just did what everyone else did. Life was just the way it was back then.
When I was a teenager we moved to the United States and everything changed. As if it wasn’t enough to come to a country where your native tongue is not English, my values and belief system was also been challenged. It almost felt like being Catholic was not cool or accepted and if you went to a Catholic school, you were considered as some rich spoiled brat, which was obviously not true in my family’s case. As I got older, the need to belong became increasingly stronger and being in a youth group seemed cool in high school. Attending youth groups opened the door for me to “try out different denominations of the Christianity. There are so many of them!
Let me just say that as Christians, we all can probably learn from the different denominations and not one particular denomination is better than the other. We can all give a little more love and a little less judgment from one another. True, there have been many problems within the Catholic Church, such as the sexual abuse scandals. But it is also true that the same has been said about other churches, not to mention corruption as well. This is not to minimize a big problem by pointing a finger somewhere else, rather to just say, hey, it doesn’t mean that all Catholics are horrible. It is just like saying that all Muslims are bad people because of the inhumane actions of others who call themselves Muslim.
At one point I felt that being a Catholic meant being uncool and unpopular. This is what I have learned. Knowing then what I know now, there is much more to the rituals that one can really benefit from. The absolution that a person receives because he confessed his transgression to another living person, weighs more than gold.
Of course, the work does not end there. John 10-11 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” Ultimately, all of our debts, past and future, have been paid for in full when Jesus died at the cross.
But as humans, we all need to hear that we have been forgiven. That is why prisoners will confess their crimes to another prisoner or they will write letters for anyone to read because we want to be forgiven and we want to be free from harboring guilt and shame.
We can all learn from one another whether you’re catholic, protestant or nondenominational. It truly doesn’t matter. If you believe that Jesus paid for your sins and that He is your God and savior, then it doesn’t matter what religious sect you belong. Because when you really truly walk in the light of Jesus the Christ, you would not have anything in your heart but love, forgiveness, compassion for all of God’s creation. It is here in this state of pure awesomeness that we get a glimpse of God’s Kingdom and it is here that we become present to presence of God.