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What I Believe to be the Difference between Religion + Spirituality

By Debbie Wojciechowski, c/o LWISSD (Master Teacher) What I believe to be the difference between Religion and Spirituality

I was raised in a strict polish-catholic family and attended 12 years of catholic school. My memories include attending confession once a week and confessing all of my sins to a priest that was sitting behind a closed cage. I remember feeling scared that I would forget a sin, such as not doing all my chores, or talking back to my parents. I do remember clearly, however, after receiving my penance of praying the rosary which included three Hail Mary’s, and two Our Father’s that it was rather cool to be free of sin until my next weekly confession! Once again, my young mind thought, “Wow, this just seems too easy!” Also, I clearly recall sitting in the pew at Mass with the instructions to leave a space between each student for our Guardian Angel. As a child attending Catholic school, we were granted our own Guardian Angel. Our Angel would watch over us and help us make right decisions in times of committing a sin, such as being unkind. I just loved knowing that I had an angel watching over me at all times! Although there are many aspects regarding rituals and dogma of Catholicism that I disagree with, I am thankful for the importance aspects of my Spiritual education. Most importantly, my background / education made me aware of Spirit and a “knowing” that there is indeed life after death.

Regarding any specific religion, I believe that the main components are love and the basic “common sense” rules of life. These include: living a life of integrity, love, honesty, humility, and faith. I also feel those who believe in “something” spiritual are more aware of their actions and consequences of those actions. While studying to be a grief counselor, I came across the following interview between Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (the guru of death and dying who also held a belief in Mediumship), and a Christian fundamentalist.

The Christian fundamentalist told Elisabeth that mediumship was “the devil’s work on earth,” and that nobody could communicate with the dead. “You are a Christian, aren’t you?” Elisabeth asked. “Of course,” he responded. “And do you pray to Jesus, don’t you?” “Certainly, every day,” he responded. “Then, my friend,” Elisabeth responded, “you are communicating with the dead.”

The difference between Religion and Spirituality:


Spirituality

  • important to surrender the need to control

  • living life from the soul

  • happiness within

  • consciousness within yourself

  • God is within us

  • consequences of your own moral / ethics

  • you are responsible for your own choices

  • chosen as a way of life, journey of the soul

  • focused and present within yourself

  • no outside authority figure

  • personal self-development including integrity / faith

  • relationship with God is within us


Religion

  • Important to control

  • organized dogma

  • happiness thru following rules of religion

  • outside tradition / worship

  • God is in Heaven

  • includes judgment / sin for not conforming

  • judgment based on not following rules of Church

  • based on family beliefs

  • outside rituals

  • authority figure, i.e. Pope

  • defined set of beliefs and practices

  • belief of the Higher Power of God

I believe there are many overlaps regarding Religion and Spirituality, including Spirits and Angels, as evidenced in the following article.

My sister recently shared an article with me that was in the newspaper regarding Pope Benedict XVI from Vatican City. Guardian angels exist to protect every human life from its beginning to end, Pope Benedict XVI said. “The Lord is always near and active in human history; and he also accompanies us with the unique presence of his angels, which the Church venerates. Guardian angels are ministries of divine care for every person. From the beginning to the time of death, human life is surrounded by their unceasing protection.”

In summary, whether you claim to be Spiritual or Religious, the most important aspect is what is in your heart, and what is your intent! Are you coming from a place of love, or are you hiding behind a title? Also, many teachings of religion do agree on an afterlife and the importance of moral responsibilities. Perhaps there is more in common with Religion and Spirituality than some would admit…