Catholicism is one of those religions that gets unnecessary stigma attached to it. The reasons for these stigmas is unknown, but it's probably because most people don't understand it, and quite honestly, neither do I. I'm not the perfect Catholic, and I'm nowhere near where I should be in my faith, but I am so thankful for being raised in this church because it gives me a different relationship with God that Christians may not have.
In Catholicism, we believe in saints and angels. When anyone mentions the existence of one of these things, they figure I'm talking about some supernatural television show or something. The idea that angels exists, I agree, is unusual. However, with everything me and my family has experienced in our lives, it's hard not to believe in them. In Catholicism, everyone has a guardian angel, and they protect you from the devil and other bad things. It's nice to know someone is watching out for you on Jesus' behalf. Also, I found out that Mother Theresa is being canonized in September, and it just about made my day! Most people have no idea what I'm talking about, but pretty much when someone becomes canonized, it means they become a saint. This is a HUGE deal for Catholics, as only the most blessed and beloved people can achieve this, and it's rare when it happens. So again, this is one of the most amazing things that can happen in the Catholic faith, so my family is pretty excited!
Something that we do in Catholicism is the sign of the cross. Every time I'm somewhere and we're praying, I have to do the Sign of the Cross. For some reason, Christians don't do this, and it bothers me so much! To me, doing the Sign of the Cross is like picking up the phone and dialing a number, not just talking to yourself around an inanimate object. That's probably why I hate praying out loud when I'm with these Christian groups, because i just feel like I'm talking to myself.
Being Catholic has taught me the value of life. If you can't tell already, I'm pro-life. I believe that a life starts at conception, and you should value an unborn baby's life as much as the life of the person next to you. The baby could eventually grow up to be that person, so why dismiss it as anything less than that. Anyways, God's greatest gift to us is the gift of life. We need to treasure the lives of others as much as our own lives and remember that we are here for a reason. There are so many people in the world, and we share this obvious trait in common, despite our differences.
The Pope is another HUGE figure in the Catholic faith, in fact, he is the face of Catholicism. I don't know the process of choosing a Pope or anything like that, but the Pope has to be an accurate and faithful representation of the faith. As far as Pope Francis goes, each Catholic has their own opinion, but he's not supposed to be portrayed as a public figure pushing an agenda, he's just supposed to bring the faith together and spread it to other people, among other things of course.
Although I have made some mistakes (OK, well, many), I have no shame in calling myself Catholic. The other day someone in passing assumed certain characteristics of a Catholic, and I was offended. Who are they to say how I act and what I believe in? It doesn't matter which part of the Bible you read, or what part of the planet you live on; The fact is that we are all God's children. and we all (well, religious people) believe in a god, no matter the technicalities. Overall, being raised Catholic has taught me that I should be proud of my faith, and that no matter what people assume, I need to stay true to what I believe in and stick to that tradition. If I was raised in any other church, who knows where I would be?