To me, that’s kind of like asking if you should be a gentleman in a romantic relationship.
I’ve heard many people say this phrase over and over again. Whether it be Catholics, non-Catholics, traditionalists, or steady churchgoers. Believe me, I can totally understand the whole spiritual versus religious argument. I’ve become entangled in the issue myself on several occasions. Do I really need to be Catholic to go to heaven? Do I really need the Sacraments? Can I just pray everyday, serve God and live righteously? I mean it makes total sense right? God is all-loving and He is our friend. We shouldn’t need to do much to be close to Him other than obey His word and communicate with Him. I was leaning towards not having to be religious, until I realized this was nothing more than me wanting it my way.
Yes, God is our friend and He wants to be intimate with us. We must tell Him our every need and desire and keep in constant communication with our Creator. However, God gives us so much more than that. I think the reason why we feel like religion isn’t needed to love Christ is because we forget that God Himself created the Church and called Saint Peter (Pray for us) to build it on a firm foundation and to be the first Pope of the Catholic Church. “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matthew 16:17-18). It was a firm foundation indeed, the Catholic church is still strong and growing hundreds of decades later. Jesus created the Catholic Church and its traditions so that we could receive His sanctifying grace and be moved by His actual grace to join Him in His kingdom. I realized that saying I don’t need religion was basically saying I don’t need God. God created religion; Catholicism was the first form of Christianity and its teachings and values are still constant to this day. “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:19).
Yes, I know it’s a lot of information to take in. Let’s take a break from scripture and talk about my personal life. I’ve been in a romantic relationship for almost a year and a half with the Catholic woman of my dreams. She has taught me so much on how to be a better Catholic and better gentleman. Why do people get in relationships anyway? Oh yeah – because they should intend to get married. That’s what God intended relationships and dating to be for anyways. Well, okay, maybe we can talk more about that later… I was blind because I always thought relationships were about being a very communicative couple with very strong chemistry and knowing every little thing about each other. But, just like I was blind in my relationship with Christ, I was also blind in my relationship with my girlfriend. Thanks be to God, my whole perspective changed.
In a Christ-centered relationship, the male should be the one who is dominant (Genesis 3:16) but he should also treat her woman with tender care and love. Let’s be honest ladies, you want your man to get you flowers, take you out to aesthetic scenery, and bring you to church (please couples go to church together often it’s THE best). There’s so much more to a relationship than just communicating and being close. Sure, communication is crucial, but it’s not everything. On top of romantic dates and creative gifts, you are also expected to be at your significant other’s celebrations and events. You should probably be at their great great Aunt’s cousin’s niece’s party if you wanna get some brownie points (JK). It’s important to be there at their graduation, their award ceremonies, and all that fun stuff. You want to be joyful and want to be there too! You wouldn’t want to dread being at your partner’s events. Through being at these events and being 100 percent engaged at them, believe it or not you are now closer to your partner (and her family and friends) in a way that could not have been achieved if you didn’t show up to anything. Gentleman will always be there for their woman and support her through anything. Gentlemen are great, but HOLY men are even better.
Don’t you want to celebrate the Death that Jesus paid to save us? God is so good that He doesn’t want us to show up to His celebrations for His benefit; He want us to show up for OUR benefit. God gave us His most precious body and blood so that we can receive His sanctifying grace which will infuse into our very own souls. Not only are we invited to the party, He’s giving us free, undeserved gifts that free us from sin! Like that’s crazy! If we fall into the depths of a mortal sin, God gives us the sacrament of penance to forgive those sins. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “Mortal sin destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God’s law; it turns man away from God” (CCC 1855). If we ever feel like it’s hard to talk to God or listen to Him, it probably means we may be in a state of mortal sin. However, going to confession fixes that for us! If we need to speak to God in peace and silence, we have Eucharistic Adoration to help us speak more intimately with Him! When we go to Mass, Jesus literally gives Himself to us. In the form of bread and wine, we consume a taste of the divine. This divine taste is grace, the gift that God gives us so we can be one with Him. We are able to be one with God and actually consume Him. There is nothing more intimate than that. Even prayer alone can’t compare to the intimacy of the Eucharist.
If religion wasn’t important, the God wouldn’t have called Saint Peter to build it. A true relationship with God can only come through full commitment to Him. This commitment is only shown through practicing Catholic traditions. Religion was God’s effort and plan to have a Relationship with us. We should not be the judge of whether we need it or not. The truth will always be the same, and so will the Church. The Church is always accepting with open arms and all we need to do is accept God’s invitation! We are His Church and we are His body here on Earth. Let us not take for granted the gifts and sacraments of the Church that God has given us.
Challenge: If you haven’t been going to Mass every Sunday, think about why. Am I giving it a chance? Am I as engaged as I should be? Do I fully realize the gift that God gives me in His Eucharist whenever I receive it?
If you go to Mass every Sunday but you’re feeling kind of dry, try going to Eucharistic Adoration beforehand. Try speaking to God deeply in His presence. If that doesn’t work, try examining your conscience and go to Confession. Religion can be a struggle but it’s not impossible.
Written by Ramil Caragay