How important is religion?

I’ve spent a lot of time contemplating that question. Growing up Catholic, I often thought my religion was a part of what defined me as a person, but as I’ve grown older, I now see the idea of worshiping God in a whole new way.  Whether I grew up with a religious foundation or not, I feel like there is a good chance I would still be the same person I am today, but the Catholic Church did open my eyes to what the world of religion looks like. My time spent kneeling in front of a pew often led me to think about how other people worship God. I became more fascinated with religion and spent many hours studying how other people perceive God differently than Catholics. I went through a phase where I was constantly wanting to learn more about religion. I would ask my mom to pick up books on monotheistic religions, the background of Buddhism, and other religious history books. I found it interesting that people could find a purpose through worshiping a figure that no one can really prove exists. It wasn’t until I read the book Life of Pi that I really began to appreciate religion. In the novel, Pi finds a way to live his life as a Catholic, Hindu, and Muslim.
The book led me to the realization that religion can bring us together if we let it. It seems like everyone is trying to fight each other over who worships God the best, but in the end we all worship the same God in our own unique way. For me, religion has been about finding a balance. Sometimes I find it difficult to accept my Catholic background because my beliefs do not always line up with the Church. My grandmother lived her life with faith and compassion that I always admired. She was proud of her faith in the Catholic Church, and I was always a little bit jealous because I knew that I would never be able to do the same. I have come to accept Catholicism, but I choose to keep my beliefs to myself. I do not feel the need to tell people I am Catholic or that they need to become a Christian to be a good person. As long as people are striving to be more compassionate and generous, it should not matter if they are religious.