I stopped going to church a long time ago. But when I was young, I went to Mass every Sunday like the good little Catholic girl I was being raised to become. While my life may have taken a different path, I still carry with me various parts of my Catholic education, such as self-discipline, respect for others, and an instinctive obedience to rules. Even after I stopped believing whole-heartedly in the doctrine of the faith, I carried on going to Mass for a time, because I enjoyed sitting in that beautiful building, surrounded by people singing praise, wrapped in the tradition I had known all my life.
Why do people go to church? Church offers people several things, the first being a sense of community, of sharing with others who believe the same as you do, whose set of values is the same as yours. Non-religious people can find this in activity clubs or their profession, such as cyclists or professional dancers. The second thing that church offers is a place for quiet reflection, where you can meditate and pray, and sort out the messes in your life. It is a sanctuary, a sacred place where you can go and be at peace.
That’s why cleaning is my Sunday service. Cleaning my house is like worship to me; as I scrub and sweep, I am going through repetitive motions of worship like the standing, kneeling, sitting, kneeling routine of Catholic Mass, and as I clear away dust and mould, I can organise my thoughts as well. When I finish, my heart feels lighter, just like it used to when I left church as a child.
People eat to fulfil the hunger of the body, and learn to fulfil the hunger of the mind. Religion exists to fulfil the hunger of our souls. But that does not necessarily mean we are required to seek that inner peace at church or temple or in the mosque. If none of those places are your cup of tea, try something different, like meditation or exercise. Or you could just start by cleaning your room.