Are you a Catholic?
By Julia Fernandes
March 5, 2014
 
“Are you a Catholic?” This was a question that was posed to me today morning by a Eucharistic minister as I went to receive Holy Communion. Today is Ash Wednesday – a day that marks the beginning of the Lent season, a period of 40 days of fasting and penance. On this day ash is smeared on our foreheads in the form of a cross to signify that dust we are and to dust we shall return. 
 
I had worn a salwar kameez (an Indian outfit) and my head was covered with my dupatta. That probably made me look like a non-catholic in her eyes. And non-Catholics are not offered Holy Communion. Which means had I worn a Western outfit and not covered my head I would look like a Catholic and be eligible to receive the Eucharist? 
 
Recently, I happened to watch one of Salman Khan’s old interviews. Salman is not only a very successful Indian filmstar, but is also an artist and a painter. The reporter asked him why is that in your artistic work a figure of a man dominates all your paintings. This is what he replied. He said that it is from the forehead that a man’s religion is identified, be it a tilak or a skull cap, or a turban or the Jewish cap. “Hence, I start all my paintings from below the forehead so as to not denote any religion except humanity.”
 
Despite having the ash made in the form of a cross on my forehead she could not believe I was a Catholic! (see my pic). Even the cross on my forehead was not sufficient for her to believe I was a Catholic! What will happen if God decides to come down as a human and enter a church or temple or mosque made in His name? I am 100 percent sure God will not be allowed if He does not possess any visible signs denoting His religion.
 
According to me, if you have love in your heart you should be allowed to receive Jesus in the form of Holy Communion. If you have love in your heart, you can visit any religious place, for God is love. Since God is in your heart, nothing and no one can stop you anywhere.
 
The way I see the world, today, there are only two religions – Love and Hatred. How much love your heart can hold and how much hatred your heart has truly determines your religion! The next time someone asks me about my religion I will look in their eyes and say my religion is Love for God is Love!