Losing My Religion
When people ask me for my religious affiliation, they become a little surprise when I tell them that I’m a Catholic. I don’t blame them. I don’t go to church. I don’t believe that Catholicism is the only true religion as the church teaches. I believe in reincarnation. I believe the bible is literature organized to sell Christianity rather than the word of God. Worst of all, I don’t believe in heaven or hell.
I went to a Catholic school in the Philippines for 8 years. When I was in high school, it was obligatory that we go to confession every first Thursday of the month to cleanse us of sins we weren’t aware of until the religion teacher told us.
Before going to the confession, we were given a moment to reflect on our sins. At the same time, we were advised to make a list lest we forget something. The time came when it became so routine that we ended up copying each other’s list.
As I progressed in high school, I found myself committing the same sins over and over again. And as I started in the process of self-discovery, which led to the discovery of the opposite sex, the list grew bigger and more sinister I could feel the gates of hell closing by.
Life was simple then. The world was painted in black and white. There were hardly any gray areas. When the teacher said it was a sin, it better be a sin, even that one that gave us the greatest pleasure.
As I remember, there are two types of sin: venial and mortal. A simple lie is considered a venial sin. If you die with a venial sin, you go to a temporary place called purgatory and stay there for awhile before getting a ticket to heaven. Reading a dirty magazine is considered a mortal sin, especially when you read it in the bathroom because it leads to committing more sins. If you die with a mortal sin, you go straight to hell, no ifs or buts.
It was the finality of hell that convinced us to confess our sins as accurately as possible, including the frequency of each occurrence. Yes, we had to report the number of times to make us feel more guilty and therefore more deserving of punishment. In due time, we became experts in record-keeping that proved helpful later in life.
It was this concept of sin and eternal damnation that drew me away from the church. I just couldn’t believe that an all-loving and merciful God could let his creation suffer in hell no matter the severity of his transgressions.