I read on someone's blog somewhere a quote that goes something like this: "Don't change religions. Just pick what works from the one you were brought up with, and borrow from other ones." It's not the exact quote, and I don't know who said it but it's stuck with me over the past few weeks since I read it.
Thus, I present to you, in no particular order, what worked/works for me about Catholicism, the religion I grew up with.
1. Chastity. This seems like a weird one for most, I suppose, but it really was integral for me during my teenage years. For the majority of my life, I believed I'd wait for marriage. While pragmatism and raging hormones certainly counteracted that, I'm still grateful for that value being taught to me. As a result, I waited until I was sure I had found the right person and avoided much heart-ache and teen angst. I was also at an age when I was adult enough to understand the emotional and physical ramifications and take the appropriate precautions.
2. Regular Practice. Spirituality was a regular part of my life growing up. We said Grace Before Meals at dinner, prayed every night before going to sleep, and of course went to mass every Sunday (as we kids grew older it became Saturday night instead, but same difference). There was never any question about why we did those things, that was the way things were. My siblings and I were surprised when we learned that we were one of the few families amongst our friends that did! I'm grateful for being raised with regular and integrated spiritual practice as it's a difficult discipline to adopt later in life.
3. Community. The Catholic Church has (deservedly) earned a bad rap in many respects, but our church did one thing really well - we had a great sense of community and involvement. Parish breakfasts, spaghetti dinners, car washes -- I think my family volunteered for each parish activity at least once. My dad is in the Knights of Columbus (a bit of a macho "men only" sort of organization) and my mom somehow always ended up in the kitchen on their parish breakfast days sorting the men out and making sure the food turned out and that it made it to the tables hot. Some of them grumbled but most were relieved, lol. I, on the other hand, always seemed to end up bussing tables along with my sisters and the other kids our age.We had a community - still do. Even now when I go back to the parish church on holidays with my family there are always people to chat to after Mass, wanting to know where I am and what I'm doing, and my haven't I grown! Why they remember me when I was just a little thing!
My sisters and I were always involved as well. We went to Jr. Liturgy during mass, when we got too old for that we became altar servers, and after that I even became a Lector for a while. My sisters, being less blessed with performative leanings, declined to follow in those particular footsteps. And of course, we were pressed into volunteer service whenever my parents were helping run an event. This is the element I miss most about Catholicism - you don't get that same sense of community as a solitary semi-pagan practitioner.
So that's it, 3 things that really worked for me about Catholicism. I could make the list go longer, but I've been working on this post for over a week now and really just want to get it finished, lol. Hopefully one day soon I'll get a list of about what appeals to me from the pagan side of things. That is, if I can tear myself away from the Downton Abbey marathon I recorded on the weekend....