Just Because I'm Not Catholic Does Not Mean I'm Not Religious

Just Because I'm Not Catholic Does Not Mean I'm Not Religious

Because religion is much more than doing what your parents forced you to do.

Photo by Christoph Schmid on Unsplash

If you’re like me, you were not raised to practice a specific religion. We only attended mass when our religious grandmother wanted us to, we didn’t know the Lord’s Prayer until our freshman year of high school, and all of our friends growing up were Catholic. Our friends all complained about the long nights spent at CCD (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine -- a religious school), leaving us feeling left out and confused as to why we were not raised in the same religion as them. Over time, we discovered our spirituality and realized that we do not identify as Catholic.

But the fact that we weren’t raised Catholic did not interfere with our religion. We found and developed our own relationship with God outside of the church. Years later, some of our friends who were forced to attend Catholicism classes as children no longer loyally follow a religion; and us, the ones who were raised “religion-less”, commonly use the bible as a way to guide ourselves through life. Those friends who had a “typically religious” upbringing, however, refuse to believe us when we call ourselves, “religious”, “spiritual”, or “guided by God”.

Although we use bible quotes to ground us as we face the ups and downs of life, pray nightly, and feel personally connected to God, we still feel incredibly disconnected to Catholic masses. No, we cannot recite every single song or prayer in a Catholic mass and no, we do not identify with a specific religion, but ultimately that does not weaken our relationships with God. Sure, some people may go to church weekly, but their attendance at church does not necessarily mean that they internalize the verses that the priests recite or use mass as a way to reflect on their lives.

Just because someone goes to church does not mean that they’re religious, and just because someone does not go to church does not mean they are not religious. Religion is more how you internalize scripture and your relationship with God, rather than what you do to prove to your friends and family that you are religious.

Religion should not be defined by the frequency at which one visits the church or one's ability to memorize all of the bible verses. It should not be measured by the number of rules stated in the bible that one obeys or the amount of money one donates to a local church. Religion is one's relationship with God; one's ability to seek understanding and reasoning through an external source -- a larger meaning.

A relationship with God simply cannot be forced -- it can only arise once one feels that God will fill a hole in his life. No one and nothing can force a specific relationship with Him unto someone. You are the only person that can create such a relationship. Allowing others to design your relationship with God only results in an artificial relationship backed by morals and opinions that you may not have internalized.

So to our friends who were confirmed, what does that mean to you? Do you see it as an obligation, or do you see it as an opportunity to develop your relationship with God? Religion starts from within and manifests itself in the way you treat and respect others. Going to mass and doing communion without internalizing what you’re actually doing is tantamount to not going to church at all.

While we may not attend church frequently, and we do not conform to any specific religion, we still believe that everyone is entitled to create their own relationship with God. No one and nothing can force a specific relationship with Him unto you. You are the only person that can create such a relationship.

So, no. We’re not Catholic. We appreciate the messages taught at mass but we do not know the ins and outs of the Catholic church. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being Catholic, being religion-less, or identifying with a religion other than Catholicism. We do not identify with Catholicism, but we still consider ourselves extremely grounded in religion. Before you try to discredit my religion, seriously consider if you actually internalize your religion outside of doing what you feel obligated to do.
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