“I believe in God, the Father. . . ”
I didn’t know that these words should always come with Catholic teachings like venerating saints or the Rosary. (I have no idea whether the first letter should be capitalized or not, but I remember seeing the first letter capitalized somewhere.) Well, that is at least how my Catholic family and friends see it because they immediately thought I’m an atheist. And the worst, one said, “Anti-Christ ka ngay-an.”
I am a Christian. Well, that is at least what I want to be, and what I think I am since I believe in God. However, I do not like the way of the religion I was born to. I don’t hate the Roman Catholic church. I respect its way of teaching and how it rules its people. It’s just that my views are of like a Protestant as already mentioned in this blog. I’ve learned a lot from both Protestant and Catholic teachings, the former because of my Protestant classmates. I appreciate both religion for when it comes to placing their faith in God. However, I believe that the Catholics seem to have exaggerated “love” for God that it already makes the people in position controlling, and which makes their actions go way overboard.
It was our section’s Recollection (or Retreat) that I was excited about in March this year. The reason is it would be the first time I am attending this annual recollection after renouncing Catholicism. I was excited to feel free of the hands of the Catholic leaders around my neck. When the afternoon came, I, along with a Protestant friend and an Agnostic friend, stayed in the school clinic whilst the Catholics did their confession. We intended to join the mass, however. (We failed to do so because we were really tired, and we ended sleeping the whole afternoon.)
The next day, I don’t freakin’ know how a batchmate was able to say such thing but I presume it was because I didn’t attend the confession and he just learned about it somehow. I went to the other section’s classroom just to hang around when one guy told me, “Anti-Christ ka na ngay-an.” (Roughly translated to, “So you’re an Anti-Christ now.”)
I was surprise upon hearing the accusation. But excuse me bro, where did you get such idea? If I were born Catholic, which I am, and if I refuse the ceremony of confession, should I already be considered an Anti-Christ? Why didn’t you think of Atheist or Agnostic first before such term? Or what about just a change of religious views or beliefs? But of course, he wouldn’t probably think of the last one because he has never met or heard someone changed their religious views. It goes to show how close-minded and narrow-minded this guy is. Even if he was just joking, which I barely believe, the term “Anti-Christ” is too heavy to be used against a person who does not share his religious views.
Later that month, we had to practice for our Recognition and Graduation. There was this teacher who lead us to practice the Baccalaureate Mass. I found the whole practice ridiculous. We literally practised the whole traditional Catholic mass. The Gospel and all those other stuff that are read during the Mass was practised. I asked a classmate if the Baccalaureate Mass are all the same each year. She said yes. So it was ridiculous because we already knew the Gospel which would result to none of us actually listening to the Gospel on the actual mass. It was even more ridiculous when we had to sit and stand up together. Like who does that in the actual Mass? And more ridiculous because we wasted few hours just by practising the sign of the Cross, and when one committed a mistake this teacher would go on about how we are demons! I mean, seriously, WHAT THE ?? This teacher would give her own Homily in the practice. I hated the practice for the Baccalaureate Mass because of that. It was ridiculous. I thought that Catholic Masses are done spontaneously. No practices. No practising of sitting and standing up together. No practising of doing the Sign of the Cross together. It made me mad. And I swear I had said this, “She’s giving me more reason to leave the Catholic church.”
But I know that just because of one Catholic, I shouldn’t include the whole church in my dismay. Okay, pause. I am not attacking the Catholics or any other religion. I had already left the Catholic church way before this happened. But it was just ridiculous. I found out before, during the recollection, that I could actually be indifferent of the whole thing about religion. I could live without religion but still believe in God. But that doesn’t mean complete ignorance of all religions. I think, I should learn from them but still live by what I believe in. I don’t believe that prayers should be lengthy and scripted. I believe it should be spontaneous. It should be directly from the heart to God. And that the only rule I should follow, is to always follow the way of God by heart, not by something I am told to do so.
The same time, we were practising for the mass, a few of my friends noticed I did not do the sign of the Cross, somehow guessing that I am a Catholic. Correction, I am born Catholic. One girl asked me if I was a Protestant. Relief filled me because this time, she’s not as accusative as the guy. I said no. I am born Catholic but no longer one. It somehow baffled her because she kept on asking what religion I belong to. I said, “Let’s just say my views are sort of a Protestant’s.” That probably ended all her questions.
Just a week ago, I had a conversation with my closest sister. My beliefs were brought up again. As it turns out, she and the rest of the family misinterpreted and misunderstood my beliefs as atheistic. I don’t see how not believing in venerating saints is called atheistic when being an atheist means you do not believe in a God. She thought I don’t believe in God. A smirk was painted on my face because of sudden realizations what these people have in common. So I clarified to her that I do believe in God but my views are just different of hers.
The thing I noticed in these several situations, it seems to me that these Catholics perhaps have forgotten that they are not the only Christian religion. There are a couple of others which they probably do not think are Christian religions because if otherwise, why would they have thought I am an Atheist? The thing is, it makes me sad that no one ever thinks of people changing their beliefs. I do not want to consider myself a deist when I don’t acknowledge the church because by definition (well, at least that’s how I understand it), a deist ignores that God has anything to do with the life here on Earth. It makes me sad that the only things they can think of people who do not share the same beliefs as they do are immediately atheist, agnostic, or worse, Anti-Christ.
I learned to open up my mind for other possibilities of reasons for certain situations like mine, and not just stay with what is a “mainstream” concept.