The Physical Church

We’ve been taught by our religious teachers, priests or pastors on the things which we thought where God is. I remember when I was in high school seminary, our priests were exhorting us that missing a mass every Sunday is a mortal sin. And if we haven’t confessed our grave sin to the priest sin and just in case we die, then we go to hell. Simple as that. I was very young then when my mind was so open to receive any teaching from an authority whom I needed to abide so I would know what to do in life. At first, with all my innocence, my mind received the lesson and didn’t bother much on trying to question his explanations. He said that God’s presence is in the Church, literally in the physical matter made of wood, cement, stones or whatever the material was used in completing the structure. It’s a holy place where God is dwelling.

Since the central teaching of Catholicism is on Jesus Christ as the God made flesh, we’re told to venerate His images especially that of the Eucharist placed in the tabernacle. So when the priest, during the ceremony of the Mass, raises the Eucharist, saying, “This is my body which is given for you, do this in remembrance of me,” we have to bow down, continuing to kneel down and realize that it’s God, Himself, in the person of Jesus Christ’s flesh.

His body is manifested in this sacramental host, which is an unleavened bread. At first, I though it’s just a symbol of Jesus’ body. I thought that the wine is just a representation of Jesus’ blood. But in our religion classes, we were taught about Transubstantiation and we even memorized its full definition in order to pass the exam. So I had to do it word for word. Although it was easy to understand the meaning if you don’t exercise your common sense and reasoning, but as time went by, I began to question this doctrine. No matter how I tried to internalize especially swallowing the host, melting it in my tongue and trying to feel Jesus’ body and oftentimes, hoping that eating His flesh would magically transform me into an extraordinary holy being…… Nothing happened.

I lowered down my wish that at least, taking his holy communion would make me a good person, being able to resist the temptations of greed, anger, deceit, lust and other sins. As I began to mature, consuming this host…I say, with complete honesty, it really has zero effect or has no absolute connection to one’s human betterment. There were even times, I wished that if I don’t become a better person, then why not become a lucky person! Since Jesus is inside of me when eating the host, I should somehow attract financial blessings… But never did it occur. I’m able to buy things and pay bills simply because I worked hard for it, reaping the fruits of my labor.

I’m able to depart from greed, anger, deceit, lust and other sins simply because I realize I would hurt my fellow human beings which in the process would bounce back the hurt to me. Philosophical rationale for this which is universally agreed upon by all beliefs is that “we are all one”.

Don’t get me wrong though. You might see me sometimes going to a Catholic Church on a Sunday. I do it because my wife wants to. Together with our two sons, we attend the Mass. I follow them in lining up to take the communion.

It’s not being forced but I do it willingly to show my love for her. It means I go with her, being with her as a companion, partner, friend and a husband. On the other hand, it’s my way to show respect to the church where I’ve grown up from. This respect means that just in case when I’m invited to visit the church of Muslims or the temple of the Buddhists or whatever church it may be, I would show the same respect which I have for the Catholic Church. In this way, I can practice truly this oneness.

As I’ve written in my previous articles, you can choose to entirely abandon the belief of God. Rely on the capabilities of your mind which is filled with creative ideas and then actualize it in concrete action of hard work without giving up. This statement has long been known and it’s already a cliché to say something about it as the formula for success. So many true success stories of real people whose achievement is based on it. Whether they say their success is because of their prayer on God or due to giving donations to the poor/charitable groups or because they practice tithing, all boils down logically and scientifically through applied intelligence and hard work.

But then again, choosing to believe in God and feel His presence beyond the confines of a material church or any religious rituals and doctrines is indeed worthwhile. No explanation is needed for I’ve already verbalize the reasoning behind the beauty of not just its belief but more so in its love and compassion concretely felt when interacting with fellow human beings.


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