A Catholic worshipping Buddhism
Should I live with the phrase, "I was born Catholic, and I will die a Catholic?"
As early as five years old, I could recall and reminisce when my family, relatives, and I went to church to hear mass.
Dressing up with a very itchy dress, lace-designed socks, and shiny black shoes was my kind of get-up. Those times I sprawled on the pew because I dozed off during the sermon and became like an active shark after taking naps during the holy communion. And I am absolutely positive we will dine out in Jollibee, a famous Filipino family food chain.
I was seven years old when I learned what the rosary was. My grandmother taught and guided us on how to pray the rosary. We prayed the rosary together. We had to kneel for a long time, and my knees were in so much pain and sometimes even trembled. Those were fun memories.
Now, kneeling is not a problem.
We also listened to bible stories from my grandmother over warm milk at night and even had bible books to learn more by ourselves. My faith was founded strong.
I joined Flores de Mayo (Spanish for "flowers of May"). It is one of the many May devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary, lasting for a month.
(Note: Spain colonized the Philippines for 327 years. The reason why they influence our culture.)
In high school, I attended an all-girls Catholic School (University of San Carlos Girls High School), which priests ran in my time.
After I graduated, I joined our parish choir as my way of giving thanks to the creator.
Only when I moved to Japan and worked overseas everything turned 360.
I found a Catholic church in the prefecture I worked in, but the English holy masses were held twice a month, and the rest were in Japanese.
It was even more complicated when I already had a habit of not going, and I got more curious about Japanese culture.
I visited shrines more than churches here. My intense interest wanted to determine the difference between my faith and theirs.
There was a time when I even questioned myself. "Will the Shinto God understand the prayer I uttered in English? Would it be better if it's Japanese?" Haha. Yeah, I have those strange thoughts, too.
But I grew up knowing that God is infinitely intelligent, and he knows the prayers in my heart.
Japan has 8 million gods compared to Catholicism, where we only have one God. But there are some distinct feelings in both.
Let me start with the similarities.
In Catholicism, we prayed to many saints other than God. For example, we have St. Michael as a patron for protection, soldiers, police, and doctors.
That goes with Shinto and Buddhism.
They pray to many gods and spirits of nature.
For example, they have Amaterasu (sun goddess), Ebisu (the God of nature), and Fujin (the God of wind.)
What differences have I noticed?
In temples and shrines, it is more like I am praying to nature and the place. It feels like the tall trees and the gush of the wind are whispering to me. I feel so small in this world. I cannot help but submit myself.
It keeps me grounded and reminds me that the world is not only about me. Other big things are going on, too.
Another important thing I noticed is that most Japanese are not too serious about practicing their faith, unlike us. Most of them keep the values of respect, honesty, and civil in their daily lives. With those mentioned, they are making it a peaceful way to live.
While in the Catholic faith, the inclusiveness and private praying in chapels or churches make me more deeply connected to God, maybe because I had lived this faith for 25 years before I moved here. It is more about a one-on-one conversation with him while feeling his presence.
Also, I still feel guilty whenever I fail to attend the holy mass weekly.
Though I may not have visited the church every Sunday, as stated earlier in this blog, my relationship with God will always be the same.
And my prayers of respect for the Japanese faith will always be special.
So, should I live with the phrase, "I was born Catholic, and I will die a Catholic?"
We may all have different Gods, but I always believe that doing no harm to others and living honestly as much as you can make us all equal.
Thanks for reading. Till next!