Holy Week Reflection 3: I am a Catholic but…

…There are remarks from my fellow Catholics that make it difficult for me to practice my religion, or at least, make me cringe:

Ang mga sakit ay bunga ng mga kasalanan. (Me: So yung mga walang sakit, santo?)

Mahal ako ng Diyos kaya Siya nag milagro sa akin. (Me: So yung mga walang naranasang milagro at tuluyang namatay, hindi mahal ng Diyos?)

Yung mga nagdo-donate sa simbahan, mayayabang. Nakapagbigay lang ng kaunti akala mo sila na ang bumubuhay sa simbahan. Dapat matuto silang maging humble. (Me: Di ba dapat yung tumatanggap ng donation dapat humble din?) 

She’s a 43-year old widow with two children and cancer. Are you sure you want to marry her? (Me: Buti na lang mas matalino yung groom kaysa sa pari.)

Whenever people ask what my religion is, I always answer, “I am a baptized Catholic.” I think that would be more acceptable than “I am a highly evolved Catholic.” 😛

I am a Catholic but I am accountable for my actions and believe in taking the consequences of my choices—call that karma. One stark difference I notice between Catholic and yogic teaching is the concept of devil/evil in the former. In yoga, the battle is between the ego and the true self. In Catholic teaching, it is between good and evil. The evil deceives, tempts, and moves people away from God, the good one. Hence, when people ‘sin’, they justify their actions by saying that they are just human, they are weak, they cannot resist temptation, etc. Did not Adam blame Eve for tempting him to eat the forbidden fruit? Did not Eve blame the snake for tempting her to do it in the first place? In short, the concept of the evil one outside of self provides the believers an easy escape from, if not an excuse for, their wrongdoing.

On the flipside, Catholics believe in the Savior, the one who died in our place to suffer the consequences of our sins. For that, I am forever grateful to Christ. The problem is, when people take that kind of mentality in their daily lives, thinking there must always be a savior somewhere who will get them off the hook. “Kung ang Diyos nga nagpatawad, ikaw pa.” And “patawad” means more often than not, “kalimutan na natin ang lahat, parang walang nangyari.” No retribution, no recompense. You instantly become the savior. My niece was shot years ago because she got into something that was punishable by law. My cousin then asked me to get a lawyer to keep her from going to jail. Looking for savior? I was least compassionate, saying that my lawyer might just be the one to put my niece behind the bars, so she better ask somebody else.

Ergo, the devil makes people do bad things but the savior keeps them from suffering the consequences. Yeah, Catholics can have their cake and eat it, too.

I am a Catholic but I advocate inclusion. I support LGBT, respect other religions, and befriend people regardless of their race (sige, kahit mag nosebleed ako), occupation, economic class, and what have you. Because of my ‘spirituality of inclusion’, I cannot and will not go back to the evangelistic Catholic community of which I used to be a part. Today, evangelization runs counter with my spirituality because it is like saying, “join my religion, it is better than what you have right now” (worse, “it is the right one”). It promotes distinction—those who are in and out of the community—and hence, exclusion. What can be more discriminatory than this: this community is not for everyone? This happens when beliefs are based on rituals and traditions and not on universal values. An auto repair guy said, when asked why he removed the slurs from a gay’s car for free—probably removing as well the social stigma that went with them—“I felt [pointing to his heart] it is the right thing to do.” That, for me, is the universal value—whatever your heart says is right, not what institutions dictate to be so.

I am a Catholic but I strive to be of service rather than to be saved. This idea emerged when, during dinner with a friend, I said “My purpose is simple—to be of service.” He then answered, “Oh. I work on my salvation. I want to be saved.” I did not ask him to elaborate what he meant further, but I guess his translation of salvation is going to heaven. That is what has been promised to us all our lives: be good and your reward is in heaven. However, if it turns out that there is no heaven, would he have done good things? Would he still have done the right things? Would he regret being good for nothing? One does an honest work, does not cheat, steal, or kill, respects and cares for life, or raises one’s children well, because that is the most sensible and the most loving thing to do, and not because one will go to heaven someday. One ought to do these things for their very essence and not for the promise of some future reward.

They say, you cannot just choose what to believe in only because it is convenient. However, according to the five blind men, the elephant has five versions and all of them are true.

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4 thoughts on “Holy Week Reflection 3: I am a Catholic but…

  1. “Filipinos love shifting the credit and blame to higher authority. They blame or praise anyone but themselves. Instead of praising themselves for their accomplishments, they praise god and instead of blaming themselves for their failures, they blame the government.” Source: http://internetjaywalking.blogspot.com/2007/07/i-hate-filipino-culture.html?spref=fb

    A case in point. Although I do not agree with the several points the author raised in his article, that’s fine. It is good to know to somewhere out there someone still exercises critical thinking. 🙂

  2. It was refreshing to read this blog entry, and for once, I do not feel alone. I haven’t heard a mass in quite a while. The more I think about it the more I’ve come to realize that I have no qualms about the teachings entrenched in the Bible, but more with the people who impart these.

    However, I personally do not subscribe to the idea that “believing in Jesus” is the only way to salvation. I believe in taking responsibility for one’s actions and doing the right thing, not out of fear of going to hell, but because it is what is appropriate, is the way to approach life.

    Just my two cents and it is not, in any way, meant to offend the religious sensibilities of your readers.

    P.S.

    Just a beginner, nonetheless, but I also practice yoga.

    Namaste!

    • No need for disclaimer actually, because I would have offended their sensibilities first with my entry. Thanks for dropping by. Namaste.

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