Why religion is practical

We make a lot out of the spiritual and moral sides of religion, but rarely do we discuss the practical value it adds to our lives. I thought I would spend a few moments discussing what Catholicism, my religion, brings to my everyday life.

Closer family ties. I was born into a blended Catholic-Orthdox family. As such, I enjoyed two Christmases, two New Years and all of the lovely Orthodox holidays such as Name Days and Family Slavas. They were a chance to get to really build relationships with my extended family – that’s one of the reasons that I am so close to my cousins. We share those happy evenings of wonderful food, foot hockey in the basement and building forts out of chairs and pillows while our parents drank Turkish coffee and talked about politics and business. They were salad days whose memory lives on the strong bonds and common outlook that I feel with my cousins and uncles.

Personal calm and healthy perspective. The religion I practice everyday is Roman Catholicism. It brings me many things related to physical and mental health, peace and serenity. I pray everyday – that doesn’t mean mindlessly running through memorized verses. Not at all. Rather, it means taking a moment to talk to God and the Saints. I think while I pray, reflecting on my impact on the lives of others, how I can be a better, more productive, more helpful person.

Stable community. Another benefit of religion is community and companionship. I find much solace in the fact that I can go to my church, St. Ann’s in Ancaster on Sundays, at least, and see familiar faces, hear the news from people’s families and spend a moment in idle conversation with a visiting priest. It’s a lovely way to experience a stable and supportive community outside of work.

Physical health and detox. The final practical benefit, fasting, I would like to highlight is directly related to physical health. I fast during Advent, the period leading up to Christmas; and during Lent, the period leading up to Easter. Fasting helps me lose weight, detoxify my body and reset my metabolism. Depriving myself of addictive sweets, meat, caffeine and alcohol is a reminder that I should not live a life of excess. It also makes me savour those tasty things in small quantities when I can eat and drink them again.

So there you have it. A few practical reasons to practice a religion.

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