Catholic Religion: Rituals and Role Models and my Own Way

by Bernadette Curtin, Australia

Last week I attended a presentation by Serge Benhayon where he and a linguist discussed the ancient and original meaning of the word “religion”. The latin root is religio, devotion for oneself and everything, and religare, to rebind or reconnect – our connection to God.

With Christianity, the meaning changed to define an organised body; it became something outside to connect to rather than to connect to one’s inner self. And it went from being to doing.

It felt very beautiful to return to the original meaning, it felt harmonious and true, to work on oneself with diligence and love for self and all others.

Recently I have been reflecting on how I, even as a grown woman, have been affected by a childhood indoctrination into the catholic religion.

What does being “good” really mean? And “obedient”?

What were the ideals and beliefs taught to me by religious authorities and my parents?

What were the role models and rituals I was given as a child that cemented beliefs and ideals, and a certain way of living and doing in my adult life?

The role models I remember being taught or shown were rather limited for women: there were martyrs, who endured torture and suffering for defending their faith; there was the Virgin Mary and the prostitute Mary Magdalen, whom Jesus befriended. The martyr and the prostitute were not really an option to my young mind, and the virgin was beyond the realms of possibility.

What about in real life? Well, there were no women priests or bishops or popes, so what was wrong with women and why were they somehow lesser? It was very confusing since somewhere in the teaching there was the idea that God loved everybody equally.

The rituals that further cemented a child into the catholic religion were baptism, confession or penance, and confirmation.

We were told that baptism was necessary as all new-born babies are born sinful, with a stain on their heart, and they needed to be cleansed.

Confession was a frightening ordeal: I remember feeling sick and frightened when I had to make my first confession, which is when you go into a black box and confess what wrong you have done to a priest who sits behind a screen. Sometimes I made up a list of sins as I didn’t really know what to say! I gradually developed a suitable list.

Confirmation involved the bishop placing a seal on your forehead to confirm your commitment to God by following the catholic religion.

All these rituals confirmed to me that I was not a worthy person, that I was born quite unacceptable to God and that I must work very, very hard at being “good” in order to get to Heaven when I died, which could happen any day.

I see now, how even though I have not been investing time and money and energy into being a good catholic woman, the ideals and beliefs have caused me to drive myself to “get it right” and “be good”.

But what if I can simply allow myself to be the true me?

What if I already know in my innermost heart what love is and I just return to being that?

This feels like a path worth following – my own way.

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291 thoughts on “Catholic Religion: Rituals and Role Models and my Own Way

  1. Very interesting to read how you made up a list of sins because you didn’t know what to say in confession – like, how we reduce ourselves to satisfy the protocol and that seems to be a common occurrence. We are very quick to figure out what is being asked of us and make that more important than what we know to be true.

  2. We think we understand the effects of false religious dogma – but the concepts like martyrdom and being ‘good’ are so far reaching. You might never go to a church but the fact is our society still reveres these qualities. Thanks Bernadette for the reminder that we need to bring a new understanding to how we live life.

  3. Being obedient to a catholic version of God is a way of living that I have personally not experienced, however there are people that I know and love who have experienced this, and in them I can often see a great sense of guilt that they carry. A guilt which does not seem to come from anything in particular, but simply from being who they are, and so no matter what they do to redeem themselves they always feel at fault or at least not good enough. And this is sad because in these people I see their beauty and their immense love which is at times being kept hidden from view due to this blanket of self deprecating thoughts.

  4. A key to our evolution as a species is to see through false religions which have us firmly in their grip, to see how they are there to control us and keep us from the truth of who we are. This may sound like a conspiracy theory but it is the absolute truth. Once we see through these pretenders we will find true religion in our hearts.

  5. What a set or sets of ideals and beliefs have we ended up with.. those who fully detract us away from what is true, logic, real and powerful. To make life about sins – right and wrongs is actually the most evil play we can set ourselves up with. As we know that our love is unconditional.

  6. We are only scratching the surface to know what “good” means and the impact of wanting to “do good” and “doing good” has. Its a foundation to how a lot of us live life and it is looked up to. Raising questions about being good certainly raises a few eyebrows.

  7. When presented with the true meaning of religion, I knew right a way the this is what I had already deeply sensed religion to be from a very young age, and that this was our natural way of being. The Way Of The Livingness offers us a way to live and maximise our relationship with God, which is innate and inescapable, through everything we do, as such deepening our relationship with who we are, all simply through our connection the our Soul.

  8. Wow – how could anyone look at a new born baby and believe they were tainted in any way? I did not know that this was the reason for Catholic baptism but it explains why it always felt awful to me.

  9. You get a great feel for organised religion reading your blog. It has so many ideals and beliefs that are all held outside ourselves putting us in the doing instead of just being.

  10. I know only too well what it feels like to be brought up a Catholic, I remember the church, an old creaky, cold wooden church feeling scary and so very uninviting. The main thing that struck me also was that it was a place to act holy but when you left you didn’t have to act holy anymore.

  11. I cannot imagine growing up under a Religion, I was however raised to know there was a Universe and that God was everywhere and was pure love. When I was taken to Church for Weddings or family events occasionally, I did not feel the love and joy that I felt in my home, in those Churches. I also saw and felt things were not as they appeared. I think that we all have the best intentions but we can get lost on our road home.

  12. I would agree that the rituals of the catholic church are designed to keep us from knowing who we really are by imposing upon us that we are something far inferior to the truth that we are God’s children and therefore Gods ourselves. As God couldn’t make his children any lesser than himself.

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