Why I need Religion

Virgin Mary–Between diaper changes and building legos, I’ve tried to explore questions about religion: how did it begin? is it necessary? where would the world be without it? can you be spiritual and not religious, as so many people claim to be? what are the benefits of having a religion? why does religion get such a bad rap? and most importantly, why is my religion important to me? I won’t try to answer all of the above, I simply share some thoughts.

My questioning started before Lent. A friend posted something on Facebook about “Godless Parents Are Doing a Better Job”. This was based on the article published in the L.A. Times, based on a study done by Phil Zuckerman, based on results from a survey from the Pew Research Center.  This survey found some alarming results back in 2012: “One-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling.”

Here’s the Pew Research Results: http://www.pewforum.org/2012/10/09/nones-on-the-rise/

and here’s the L.A. Times article: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-0115-zuckerman-secular-parenting-20150115-story.html#page=1

It shifted something in me. Why do so many people who don’t believe in God, much less a religion, tend to believe that faith is like believing in Santa Claus or that you can’t be smart, educated, open-minded, and empathetic and also believe in God? And now, it turns out that you are not a good parent if you teach your children about God?

As we sometimes learn the bad words of a foreign language first, are we learning the bad things about religion first, without really delving into the richness and benefits of it? Sure, there have been crusades, corruption and unacceptable behavior in the history of the church. But where has there been no blemish, no “sin”? The presidency, the papacy, banks, schools, sports and our own homes have been rocked by scandal.

I spoke to a friend who is Muslim not long ago. We each asked questions about the other’s religion and it was eye-opening and enriching. No judging or competing. I wish we could all speak that way about religion.

There is so much I don’t know. But what I do know is that we are all connected, and that God is the center that holds us all together.

“Religion is man-made. It’s not what Jesus wanted.” That’s what many people say. But politics, medicine, school rules, and speed limits are also man-made. We still follow those principles and abide by certain laws.

Being Catholic for me has not always been easy. Religion is sometimes difficult, challenging us to become better. I went to Catholic school through 12th grade, but things didn’t really sink in until I became a mom. I love Jesus, the Virgin Mary, going to mass, the sacraments, the saints, the fellowship, and the traditions. Teaching my kids about God has been one of my greatest joys. These are some of the things they’ve wondered about God throughout the years:

-Is God a man or a woman? – What language does God speak? -Why can’t we see God?

-I love you almost as much as I love God. -How can God see everything? Does he have infinity number of eyes?

-Why did they kill Jesus? -Why do we have to go to church?

-Can I have all the Hulks I want when I’m in heaven? -Can I fly when I’m in heaven?

Exploring these things with them is life-giving. I believe planting seeds about God is as important, if not more than teaching them how to read or ride a bike.

Religion to me is a way of life, it is a map to God, it is community, it is part of what defines me, it is what molds me and holds me. It’s my spiritual gym. I could never be in shape without it! Here’s what some of my friends said religion meant to them:

N.G. shared with me that “we’ll never be truly happy unless we seek out God. He made us to know Him, love Him and serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in heaven”.

Another friend, N.W. shared: “There’s the saying about how each of us has a ‘God-sized hole’ inside and we can try to fill with all sorts of worldly things but it can never be properly filled without an authentic relationship with God.”

J.O told me that “true religion is the one in which God the Father has sought a way to reach out to man, invite, nurture, grow with man and walk with him day by day. For we (humans) did not choose God… But rather God has chosen us.”

E.M said that “for a long time I was spiritual, but I have never been as happy as when I started to be religious.”

FB said “religion and worshipping in church is about community and support for one another.”

MD shared that you can be spiritual AND religious “it’s all in finding the balance between spirituality and religion”.

Thank you all for your thoughts. I believe we are all spiritual. We are born that way. Seeking meaning, a place where we belong, understanding, doubting, desiring… But to me, spirituality is like the human eye. It is made to see, and the only way it can see is with light. Religion is that light. Without it, the eye is useless.

I realize that having a relationship with God is a very personal journey. And I mean no disrespect to anyone reading this. I simply felt the need to explore these thoughts and share them.

One last thought: Of course you can be good without believing in God. But I believe that all goodness comes from God. So whether we see it or not, parents who don’t believe in God are raising good children because God created us all to be good.

Here is a link from my favorite priest, Father Barron, who explains the new trends in religion, and why he thinks there are so many people who believe in God but not in religion:

8 thoughts on “Why I need Religion

  1. DIOS ES GRANDE
    DIOS ES AMOR
    DIOS ES UNION

    Gracias por compartir tus inquietudes, que son las mías también. TQM Y SIGUE INSPIRÁNDONOS !

    1. Gracias amiga!! Que bendición estar en este camino juntas 😉 TQM tbn!!! Besotes!

  2. Good questions sis. Good to hear your wrestling with them. Kids questions are precious!! Religion is connected to the Latin word religare, which means reconnecting. Religion is the group of beliefs and practices that reconnect us vertically to God and horizontally to one another… And for us Catholics that happens to be the Cross which is the vehicle of that reconnection literally and metaphorically. Where other people criticize religion because of its “appeal to fantasy that cannot be proven,” as one friend of mine put it, I find that religion’s power and appeal is its ability to both inspire and impulse the faculties of my imagination to extend beyond what is possible. I have found most fascinating how many Catholic scientists and priests have contributed to great discoveries in asking questions much like yours through science. Thank you for your good blog.

    1. Thanks sis! Means a lot. I love the vertical and horizontal explanation. Wish I could have included it in the blog. Te quiero!

  3. I am a better person for having read this article. I was brought up Catholic in Ecuador, South América and when I came to the US my mom did not have a vehicle to take me to a catholic church so we walked to a baptist church. I asked her why is it that there are so many beliefs but only one God: She responded wisely saying “Where there is much love, there is also God and there is where man has been invited to participate, interact and give LOVE back
    to others” Jaime Obando -Houston, Texas.

    1. Thank you so much Jaime!! God is good isn’t he?? There is nothing without him. Muchos abrazos!!!

  4. I was raised catholic and grew up working to be good. But my mother was alcoholic and father a womanizer so I didn’t experience love at home. Mass was in Latin when I went as a child and so very boring. I experienced coldness and abuse from the priests and nuns when I attended catechism so I grew to resent the hypocrisy I felt they displayed. They were not good messengers of god. So by the time I reached adulthood I hated religion and anyone who believed in it. I didn’t really know love at that time.
    But I found love. Or love found me, with the birth of my first child. It was my first true experience of unconditional love. And it was an eternal and overwhelming powerful love and I knew it would never end. I would love my child forever.
    That love ultimately led me to seek God and led me to spirituality without religion. And developed a personal relationship with God that grew and deepened for years.
    But over the past 2 years I have lost that connection with God. My son in law was killed in an explosion at work leaving my daughter and 3 grandchildren behind. The kids were only 7,5,& 3 when their father was killed. The days have been hard for us all.
    So although a part of me feels I need God very much another part of me is so hurt I can’t or don’t want to believe in God. How can a loving God allow this to happen to my grandchildren and my daughter? How can such a good husband and father be stolen away from his family? I love how close I have grown to my grandchildren and daughter at this time but I would give it all up for anything if I could have my son in law back. Oddly enough my daughter and her husband were very devout and so since his death I have attended mass with her & the kids more times in the past 2 years than I did in the previous 25. And I am grateful that her religion gives my daughter solace and provides a structure of sorts to help her raise the kids.
    But for me there is no such relief in religion. And I find myself lost without god right now. Maybe one day I will find a reconnection to god. I’m not sure at all.
    All I know & believe in is love. I have 7 children & I love them all with all my heart. I have 9 grandchildren and I love them all with all my heart. I have I wife who I love with all my heart. I am grateful for love both for being able to fully give it with all my heart and mind and body and soul, and for being able to receive it from so many people in my life.
    I want to believe in god and I wish I could find a religion that could work for me.

    1. I am deeply sorry for your loss, Nan! That must be so tough for you and your family. What a gift to have had your son-in-law in your life and that you have been able to have a relationship with God in the past.
      I think the hardest thing about trying to understand God and religion is “how can God let bad things happen”… if He is all-knowing and all-loving Father? There seems to be no answer that can be enough to explain our pain. But I find a little comfort in how Father Barron explains it here, it’s an audio file, about 15 min long: http://www.wordonfire.org/resources/homily/the-spirituality-of-pain/828/ Let me know your thoughts when you hear that. Thank you for sharing your journey and my wish is that you remember God’s love and heal day by day. Best wishes and many blessings!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *