I was raised as a Catholic and I will explain what it meant to me. The brainwashing begins at a very young age. It all starts with the Christening reserved for infants or babtism for others, usually at a later age. I would tell you about my Christening, but it's something I can't remember. It was sort of like an induction into the church.
A few years later they send you to Sunday school (which was actually on a Saturday) or catechism. Around the age of 5 or 6 we went to this class and they taught us about God and Jesus and the wonderful things they did for us. I liked it because we got to color pretty pictures. The next day was more Jesus time. Mass on Sundays was an event. We put on our best clothes (because God cares what we look like) and our mom would drag us with her, three boys and a girl. Imagine the fun time we had in church and my poor mom trying to keep the boys still. After everyone was seated, the priest (adorned in fancy robes) walked up the aisle with the altar boys alongside who carried long poles with candles on the top. I always looked in awe as the priest waved his little incense urn around and smoke went everywhere. I was relatively happy to be in church because we didn't just sit there and listen to a guy talk. No, we had to stand sometimes, kneel, or bow our heads, and it was exciting. We also got to sing. As a kid, that was fun. At least it was for me. I am entertained easily.
At some point during mass, people got up and made a single file to receive the body of christ, not literally anyway. It was time for the crunchy bread. As a kid you're thinking, "Hm. Snacks!" But no, you can't get your snack until you've done your First Communion. Turns out that the reason we went to catechism was to prepare us for this monumental event called the First Communion. I then felt I had a purpose. Catechism meant something to me. It was a stepping stone to feeling closer to Christ. At around age 7 or 8 the moment I had been waiting for arrived. My rite of passage was held in the evening and I got a fancy white dress to put on. It was like a red carpet affair. My brothers were akin to an entourage, lots of pictures taken, and I even wore gloves and a veil. After the priest talked about the importance of this moment we were then allowed to partake in the crunchy bread. It was the worst thing I had ever tasted. Not only was it bland, it seemed to just melt in your mouth and sorta stick to the roof of your mouth.
Easter Sunday was another glorious time. We wore hats and gloves. Another fancy time to be had at the church. It's also the day we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ. After church we'd come home and do our egg hunt. To me, the eggs represented our search for Zombie Jesus. The goodies inside represented the gifts he had given us. That's what it meant to me anyway.
I continued to pray every night and my mom had taught me to use the rosary beads, only because I asked. I thought they were cool. Church on Sundays also continued. I was happy and peaceful there. I kept eating crunchy bread and I recall asking my mother why other people got to drink wine except me. Turns out that I wasn't done with Sunday school. I needed to seal the bond, so to speak. Hello, Confirmation. This was the last step. I was about fourteen when Confirmation took place. The ceremony was just as fancy, but I didn't need the white dress. The wine was awful, but I felt complete. I was part of the in crowd, the church and I were buddies. And Jesus and I were closer than ever. I prayed, believed in the power of God, loved my brothers even though they were monsters, and I loved everyone regardless of who they were. I did not judge and lived with love in my heart. Things couldn't have been better. Then my world crashed down on me and I didn't know if God was on vacation or if I had done something wrong.
I was diagnosed with a disability that has made me dependant on medication. My brother fell into the debths of a drugcrazed way of life. "This can't be!" "Why?" "God, what have I done wrong?" These were things I said at the time. I then started to actually think. I put down my prayer beads. I set aside the bible. I set all of the church's teachings aside as well. I was left numb. I continued to go to church and sat there with nothing in my heart but pain. The priest's teachings sounded like the Charlie Brown teacher. Nothing made sense. Why would a god do this to someone who loved him and others? It was a question I asked myself repeatedly.
I slowly started to depart from the church. My mother didn't question me. I'm sure she had some idea as to why I didn't want to go. I felt as though I was slowly going insane trying to figure out the why. I realized that I had to stop thinking about God because it wasn't as though he'd visit me and tell me. "What if there's no God?" I asked myself one night. That question brought so much pain. Being devoted all those years for nothing. I felt as though I were grieving from a loss. I cried that night.
I spent years without seeking an answer to that question. I was well into my 20s and still didn't care to find out. All I knew is that bad shit happened to good people. Assholes lived forever. Death and disease just happens for one reason or another.
I'm in my late thirties (yikes!) and I am just now trying to make sense of it. After some reading and watching some Hitchins and Dawkins videos I have come to the conclusion that the bible and religion are BS. And I can finally answer my question of so many years ago...There is no God.
Making this blog has made me reminisce and think back about what the church had taught me. It had some very good teachings, however, it's not something that is needed. It was painfully obvious to me a long time ago, that I didn't need the church or anyone else to tell me that one should treat others with respect, be kind, not judge others, etc. In a way, I am thankful for my disability because it made me open my eyes, it made me question something that I believed in so blindly. So when my born-again Christian brother tells me that he prays for my disability to go away, I reply with: "You can't pray this shit away because I've tried." And it's true. I tried and failed. And it was the best failure ever; my step into the light, so to speak.
So the statement was made that Catholics are different. Only taking from my personal experiences and that of my brother and other Christians I've seen, I would say they are, but not by much. I see Catholicism as a watered down version of Christianity. Neither of them are right.