By Sandy Rodriguez | Staff Writer |
Peter denied Jesus thrice before the rooster crowed; he stepped outside and wept bitterly. Welcome to Catholic guilt.
Catholic guilt is described as “related to inherent imperfections and daily failing that cause a person to feel that he or she is isolated from God and unworthy of reconciliation,” according to wisegeek.org.
Many people raised Catholic are taught of faith and sin as children. As they grow, they feel remorse for things they do or have done due to their religious teachings.
“Many churches and faith-based organizations teach that sin and transgressions have separated people from the love of God or other deity, but the Catholic Church has a reputation for emphasizing this separation perhaps more vigorously than others,” according to wisegeek.org
With 1.2 million believers, the Roman Catholic Church is the largest religious denomination in the world, according to study.com.
Pew Research Center stated approximately 20 percent of the United States identify themselves as Catholic.
Catholic teachings profess that we are all sinners and there are many ways to sin.
“Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity,” according to vatican.va.
An anonymous student said that after having sex with her boyfriend, she would have to wash her body “at least four times” due to shame.
“I loved my boyfriend and I loved sex, but enjoying it so much made me feel even more guilty. I couldn’t go to church. I steered away from my very religious family and my religious friends, in a way I isolated myself,” said the anonymous student.
Student Rose V., a makeup industry employee, said she has felt remorse at work when taking samples.
“When me and my [coworkers] want something from the ‘gift section,’ we discreetly take it. In my head, it isn’t stealing, but it is,” added the anonymous student.
Surges of Catholic guilt occur even for the smallest of mistakes, actions and even circumstances out of the hands of the person experiencing the guilt.
Student Andre Bellamy feels guilty when he doesn’t respond to a text quick enough or screens his phone calls.
“When people on the street ask for money, I feel insanely guilty. I give them a couple of bucks when all I really want to do is give them my life savings, which really isn’t much more,” said student Jorge Davalos.
Some scholars linked this sort of religious-based guilt to obsessive compulsive disorder; however, the results are far from conclusive, according to thecrimson.com.
Lapsed Catholics, those who were raised Catholic but no longer believe or disagree with a main tenant of church doctrine (but still believe), also experience Catholic guilt.
“Whenever I tell white lies, I can’t seem to function for the rest of the day. I don’t apologize. I just sit there and suffer, taking it like a man,” said lapsed Catholic Michelle Nguyen.
It’s important to remember that to some extent guilt is a normal, healthy thing, but forgiveness and looking beyond can transform us.