Even though I was raised Adventist by grandma, mom and dad gave me the chance to determine my own religion. Years passed and I never made a choice, therefore I was never baptized. The stories I heard as a kid about what happens to people who are not baptized were terrifying; there were three main consequences according to aunts, grandmothers and old ladies. First, you could go to sleep but next morning you might wake up under the bed, freezing. Second was the sightings of gnomes and third, there is no heaven for you, only limbo.
As a Catholic school student I had the chance to experience both religions, so I was Adventist at home and Catholic at school. Still, both religious ideas seemed questionable, for simple things. Adventists had told me that rock music belongs to the devil and as a former Pearl Jam fan and aspiring guitarist I just couldn’t agree. The Catholic Church wanted me to confess to a priest, in other words share my secrets with an unknown person that I couldn’t even face; It just didn’t make sense. After grandma passed away I realized this was not my lifestyle, so I turned my back to both churches.
My decision was not surprising. Most people these days don’t attend a church because it simply does not provide them with the right answers.
A couple of years ago I started praying again. I’m not sure why but I still try to do it at nights or before I board a plane and remember how fragile life is. I believe I felt the necessity to speak to God or to whoever is up there, just to say thanks for all the good things in life.
People tend to ask for favors when they pray and I still do sometimes; to get promoted at work, to not get stuck in traffic or to get that girl’s attention for instance. As I’ve become older I have learned that praying should be an act of gratitude. Instead of asking for certain things I give thanks for being able to run, breathe and smile.
But praying every once in a while wasn’t enough. I felt as if I wasn’t being thankful enough so one morning I decided to go to church; curiosity i guess. I visited the Catholic Church on a cold Sunday morning, half asleep and hangover from last night. Somehow I managed to stay until the end but I left the place tired, bored and confused, telling myself not to ever comeback to such a long and slow ceremony.
Everything was the same strict ritual; to stand up and sit down, to repeat words that I don’t even understand, to listen to the priest for hours and to sing and follow directions, just like everyone else in the room. There was no possibility to express yourself, to speak to the crowd, to share thoughts about the sermon spoken or maybe something personal, something off the record. Mass was still slow and repetitive, and I wasn’t the only one about to pass out, I could see it on the people around me, they were as bored as I was. This is why I believe there has to be a change, but who am I to propose a change to the most powerful religion?
Anyway, if mass is boring and people are not interested then the Church should modernize it and blend it with today’s issues for instance. I would attend a mass where not only the priest gets to speak. Why aren’t the people allowed to talk? Instead of listening to the priest for hours we should be able to talk about our issues and seek advice. Mass should be an interesting ceremony to share our problems, our goals in life, rather than sing hymns and repeat sentences like zombies. Imagine the priest passing the microphone around asking people how they feel, how is their day going so far or what are their doubts and conflicts. Perhaps the priest can spend the rest of the ceremony talking about these issues, finding a solution. Everyone in the room would be paying attention and when I say everyone I mean divorced couples, gays, bisexuals, people who had abortions, sex before marriage and so on. No one will be left alone because isn’t God all about forgiveness and love?
I want to attend a mass where we can all share our thoughts and feelings, not to an institution that teaches values from past centuries. Id like to leave mass the same way I leave the movies after watching a blockbuster; talking about it all the way home. As of now I haven’t found a religion with these ideas so I rather stick to praying every once in a while.
God bless you all (and I hope He forgives me for this article)