I'm what my dad calls "Catholic Lite." He describes someone as being "Catholic Lite" when they consider themselves Catholic but don't hold to all the obligations and beliefs of Catholicism in the same way that Bud Lite is still considered a beer but without all the calories.
To me being religious, or Catholic for that matter has so much more to do with being a decent human being than going to church on Sunday's or participating in confession. I don't believe in the nonsense that says going to church makes you better than anyone else and I surely don't believe that only good people participate in the sacrament of mass.
I grew up in a mixed religious household. My mother was Catholic and my father was raised Baptist. When I was really young I remember going to church every Sunday with my mother, grandparents, aunt, and cousins. I also went to Catholic schools through elementary and high school.
Having my entire life be based on religion, I began to ask questions that my parents didn't know the answers to and was taught concepts that my parents didn't agree with. As time went on, we all pulled away from the faith. In part, I think I pulled away because I felt that Catholicism was being shoved down my throat giving me no chance to catch a breath and decide what I truly believe.
A couple of things I was taught that I personally don't align with are as follows:
- I don't believe in confession. I don't understand the concept of one man bestowing onto another power from Christ to cleanse me of my sins. I would much rather pray in the privacy of my home to our lord and savior asking for forgiveness for my wrongdoings.
- I don't believe that only human souls enter heaven. I believe that all living things are Gods children and I don't think he would deem some of his beloved creatures as having souls more important than another's.
- I was once told by one of my religion teachers that it was a sin for my parents to be married when they were of different faiths. I don't believe faith has anything to do with marriage. Marriage to me is about love and commitment. My mother went to mass without my father because that was her choice and my father didn't mind at all. I think that's the way it should be. A spouse shouldn't participate in the faith of his or her partner simply because they feel obligated to. When it comes to having children I would say teach them the things you can both agree on and then when the child is old enough present to him your different religious factions and let him choose which he feels more closely drawn to.
- So many religious organizations or faith sects preach acceptance but then turn away those who desire to live life differently than them. For example, I went to high school with some individuals who upon graduation came out as homosexual or bi. Some of them were blessed with families who love them for who they are no matter if everything they do aligns with the faith or not. Others were not as lucky and were turned away by their families. I ask you, what is religious about this?
- I believe there is more than one way to pray. I don't think I need to kneel, bow my head, and spew some words I memorized when I was 5 because I was forced to for a religion test. I don't consider that true prayer because when I'm spewing these words I don't really mean them. I think a prayer can be a simple thought or heart feeling.
Going to Church on Sundays and participating in the sacraments does not make you a good person in the same way that not going to Church does not make you a bad person. I guess you could say my religion is based on the "golden rule" that I treat others the way I want to be treated; with respect, dignity, and kindness.