In the modern world it is easy to forget religion. Where we once consulted God for guidance, we now turn to science for answers. Where communities and friendships were once established in places of worship, we can now develop relationships online.
With each passing Census, results show that many religions are fast losing followers as nations become increasingly secular. Even those that declare themselves affiliated with a particular faith rarely practice or take part in ceremonies or rituals.
Poland, however, is one country of the modern world that claims over 80% of the population are Catholic – a figure that makes Poland one of the most religiously devout countries in Europe.
Born, baptised and raised in Krakow, my younger years were very much focussed on attending masses, learning religious teachings and taking part in religious events. My faith in God – like that of many of my childhood friends – was the result of an unquestioned belief that was forcibly inherited from parents and grandparents. It did not come from within. Many times I wanted to believe in God and experience a spiritual understanding at each mass and in every reading, but I soon learnt that my attempts were only to make others proud.
In recent years, I have come to believe that religion is simply another word for tradition – something that is learnt and practiced without question, however silly it may appear to the outsider. Returning to Poland an atheist, it is amazing to see how strong Catholicism still is and the central role it plays in the lives of the people of Poland. While the rest of the Western world slowly rejects religion, the Catholic faith in Poland that I knew growing up remains unchanged. This is a small story of the people of Poland who continue to believe.