I attended Catholic Mass every morning for a month. I’m a non-religious, non-practicing Catholic. Here’s what I learned:
I was baptized and technically raised catholic through my teens, religion was never a consistent part of my life growing up.
Why attend Mass every day?
I thought about doing this after an extended trip to China at the beginning of the year. China’s history, culture, and traditions go back thousands of years. One of the aspects of Chinese culture I found most fascinating was the connection Chinese people feel to their history and traditions.
When I returned to the US, I asked myself, “what do we have in the US that’s thousands of years old?” Most countries in the world don’t have histories that go back to before Jesus was around. Then the idea popped into my head: “JESUS!” I decided I would try to go to church to see if I could try to engage with history and tradition in my own culture.
I attended daily Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral for four straight weeks. Here’s what I learned:
- Attending Mass in the morning before going to the office was surprisingly uplifting. Mass became my meditation time.
- The interior of the churches and cathedrals are stunning. As well as spiritually and physically soothing.
- With an open mind, the church teachings are cathartic and are spiritually nurturing.
- The Mass brings people together to share in a collective spirit.
- Even if you don’t fully agree with Church doctrine, taking in the principles you learn allows you to contrast them with your own beliefs and re-evaluate yourself.
- The teachings are spiritually cathartic, and you can sense how strengthening your faith could help you fill a void in your life.
The Less Good
- The Catholic church is highly conservative and can be quite rigid in terms of how you should be conducting your faith.
- You spend so much time focused on cleansing yourself of Sin or “bad thoughts or actions”. It doesn’t feel like you have a lot of room to focus on having positive thoughts or carrying out good deeds.
- You’re always aware of the ultimate punishment: banishment to Hell when you die. Catholic doctrine makes you realize that most people are destined to go to Hell, and there’s a good chance you’ll end up there too if you’re not careful. Sounds fun.
- You start to feel intellectually stunted. Any time you encounter a complicated question that doesn’t have a good answer, you can simply default to “well, that’s for God to figure out.”
Catholicism is like a one-size-fits-all spiritual philosophy. You have to take all the bad along with all the good it offers.
Attending Mass allows me to feel connected to myself on so many levels. Still, it’s hard to put Jesus in the center of my life as the church requires. There are so many logical discrepancies in Catholic teachings that it feels tough to take that leap of faith. But maybe that’s the point.