Let me start off by saying that everything I'm writing about is purely my own opinion and I have no intentions disrespecting anyone's religious beliefs. That is not what this article is about. In fact, it's actually the opposite.
Growing up, I was raised Catholic. But I always loved and secretly felt guilty about loving Christian music. Why? Because I was such an innocent (read: goody two shoes) kid that thought if I listened to Christian music I was a bad Catholic. Even worse, I would be a Christian (not trying to be disrespectful in any way. And yes, I really did think this).
But after years of Religious Education and realizing that Catholics and Christians fall under the same umbrella (Christianity), I realized that it was okay to like and even love Christian music. Since discovering that, I threw myself into my current church's music ministry and tried to attend as many "Praise and Worship" events that I could. Both here at college and at home.
Why is this even relevant? Well, because just about a year ago, I made a friend who was itching to get involved in a church. Naturally I encourage people to try different things and to find what they like. And she found this really cool church close to our school. Since I love learning new things and experiencing new things, I tagged along for service and the holiday party afterwards..
While the service was completely different from my own, I found a completely different aspect of religious practice that I didn't know I needed myself. And what makes them so different? Well, I think that would vary from person to person. But I found that in a Catholic mass, it's interactive on a personal level. The mass is much more intimate and quiet. And if I had to characterize it by the way a room looks, I would say it a softly lit room with tons of candles.
But in the Christian service, it was alive and loud with the technology and equipment to make sure that everyone can see and hear what is happening in the front of the room. There are lights and while the room is dark, it seems and feels much more alive. Both of these religious ceremonies have an energy of their own, each satisfying a different spiritual need.
While I do identify as Catholic, going to Christian service is a huge boost to my religious experience. What makes it so different to me, is the music. This particular church opens service with music, has a sermon in the middle, and more music at the end. When I look around, there are always people singing, swaying and raising their hands in praise and giving it all to God. It's public in a way that I have never seen before. If I were to compare it to something, the service that I've been a part of reminds me of "Praise and Worship" events.
As a Catholic, we are raised to stay silent about the things that we do. Being modest and humble are incredibly important. And sometimes I forget that it's okay to show my praise to the rest of the world. By just showing up to service for the first time I realized that it's okay for us to find things in other religions that we like. We are not as divided as we make ourselves out to be. Or as the media and society makes us out to be. Every religion has a beauty that makes it different than the rest. And instead of shutting others out and tearing them down because of their different beliefs, we should all strive to understand and accept each other despite different practices.