With Holy Week upon us, now is as good a time as any to reflect on our spirituality — or even the perfect time. For Catholics, Lent asks that we abstain from certain foods and sacrifice personal pleasures as a show of devotion. But to what end?
People tend to make their Lenten sacrifices without giving much thought to why then they judge others who don’t adhere. This is symptomatic of how religion works as a whole. People follow blindly then censure those who fail to fall in line.
Just as the Pope urges Catholics to make meaningful sacrifices in Lent, so ought people act meaningfully in their faith. There are so many individuals who wear religion like a badge, showing off their good deeds and pious behaviors without really taking to heart certain doctrines like “love your neighbors”. They use it to look down on others — shaming single mothers or turning out LGBT+ members from their congregation.
Worse still are those who seek to use religion as a justification for atrocities. Different religions are so often used as excuses to marginalize or even deny rights to certain groups of people. Marriage is denied to LGBT+ individuals because it is a ‘violation of sanctity’ (when by the way, marriage existed before any concept of religion did). A woman will never have full autonomy over her body due to skewed valuations of life. Ethnic groups are literally being killed in different places across the world just because they practice a different religion.
Of course, these are the most extreme cases. But they still go back to that same problem of individuals practicing their religion cosmetically. Ultimately, the point of most religions is to be a good person. Often, goodness will have little to do with hearing mass every day or memorizing scriptures. But it has everything to do with actions and intentions.
Hold onto the tenets of your faith and actually practice them. Seek goodness beyond following the technicalities that your church preaches. People get so distracted by the minute details that they forget saying a prayer at noon every day doesn’t necessarily make you a better person. Accepting others regardless of what they believe, treating everyone fairly even if they’re different from you — these are the things we ought to embody in our faith, whatever faith that may be.
What’s your take on this?