Losing my religion
I know how the Catholic faith began for me. Although I can’t remember it with such clarity as saying yes to a first love, I know very well how it started. It was just like how every religious faith starts for anyone. One day you were born and baptized to a certain faith, then, next thing you know, your religion has become an integral element of your identity.
I was born and raised a Catholic in a very religious family. I spent my years studying in Catholic schools. Good Fridays meant marching behind the image of St. Peter as a “devotion,” especially for uncles back in the province who prayed hard to win every cockfight there was. Sleepovers with cousins and friends were never without a Bible reading segment, and our “morality” was always based on the Sunday Masses we attended.
I am aware how that traditional Catholic faith came about, but I cannot put my finger on what exactly changed everything. There were a lot of circumstances that led to ambiguities and moments of silence, which eventually turned the page and made me no longer the believer that I once was.
The sequences of doubts had always been there, but the dissolve, perhaps, started when I found myself in a Critical Thinking class in a Catholic university that was miles away from home—an opportunity to diverge my beliefs from my family’s.
I have always been taught to love and worship God and to preach His truth if you need something, and more especially
if you do not want anything. But I came to think, what kind
of a vain God do I serve? Isn’t pure love just doing something without getting anything in return? Or does my God want
me to feed his ego?
A whole term of questions and discourses engendered more realizations. Those days of imposed faith eventually felt constricting to me, and the instances of broken resolve were more disappointing than the days that came after.
I remember quite well the unbearable two hours of my life, sitting on a pew during a funeral Mass. The righteous man of the cloth in his homily referred to people who had committed suicide as “Judas,” that unmarried women are “wild pigs,” and those who do not go to Mass are animals. Just when I had presented myself to the possibility of regaining the faith I had lost, I saw my feet once again stepping further away from it.
I suppose everyone has had that turning point, a curious position. Another moment for me was when I was clinically diagnosed with anxiety disorder. I’ve had many breakdowns without anyone looking out for me personally. I have witnessed friends battling depression, spending wee hours inside the chapel, in the hope that maybe it will only take prayers to heal. Many times, it is the hardest to find comfort in the silence of the God who had promised to suffer with us.
Now, I simply cannot identify myself as a frequent churchgoer anymore for the main reason that I cannot support a hypocritical institution. I have learned that the same church that preaches love denies its people the chance to love whoever they want. The same belief that protects the right to life is the same that kills the most vulnerable of society—women and children. The very institution that should liberate us is the one that restricts us.
The Catholic Church struggles to adapt to the reality of the present time. It remains close-minded to the wide possibilities of an evolving humanity. Understand that I did not mind its failures in the beginning, as I believe that human institutions are bound by its own fallibilities.
It has, however, become harder to shut one’s eyes from the reality—that some church leaders are sexual predators, that too many corrupt politicians are also “faithful servants” of the Lord, and that a president who butchers is listening to the voice of the same God those he killed believed in.
Not being a diehard devotee of the Catholic Church is a personal choice. I do believe there is something greater than the Church, and that is the mission for humanity. I do not blame the Church, and I do not plan to rob people of their freedom to express their beliefs. I admit that I still find comfort in some prayers. Many times, it is only faith that we are left with. I’m just unsure as to what faith I should hold on to. What I know is that the Lord I believe in these days is different from what they preach in the churches.
Marielle Lucenio, 21, writes for the Union of Catholic Asian News. She graduated from De La Salle University-Manila with a degree in psychology.
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