03 June 2009

I'm Going to Talk about Religion. Run.

I have decided to tackle one of the big issues tonight. I have a feeling I will only touch the surface of a very complicated topic.

Religion. I think it would be nearly impossible for me to think of another topic that has had more impact on the world. It influences people on every level, societies and individuals, externally and internally. That is why I think that it is important to address the topic in my own life.

To say that I was raised Catholic would be incorrect. From about kindergarten to third grade my family went to Church every Sunday, and I attended CCD from first grade until I made my Confirmation in tenth. However, somewhere in there my family's Church attendance dwindled not to "only the holidays" like many Christmas-Easter Christians, but even worse in that we attended for funerals or Easters in which we were staying at my grandparents'. Even when we did attend Church, we didn't (and still don't) discuss our actual faith. I honestly couldn't tell you if my parents believe in God or if they agree with the Church on many social issues. We simply don't broach the topic. Despite this I managed to learn a great deal about the Roman Catholic Church. The avid student in me allowed me to absorb much of what I heard in Church and in CCD classes.

When I reached the seventh grade my parents deiceded to pull me out of public school and send me to a local Catholic Junior Senior High School. They did so for academic, not religious, reasons, but at this new school I was exposed to much more external religion. Required to take a religion class each year, I spent six years learning about many aspects of the Church, from its history to Christology to the liturgy to social justice. By the time I was in high school I considered myself a devout Catholic.

I believe that this association with the Church had more to do with external realities than it did with actual faith. My "Catholicity" was somewhat superficial and fake. I believed in the way that the school had made me feel. I cherished the community that the school provided, supposedly based around Catholic values, and I embraced the community service that I was performing. As I became a member of our Campus Ministry Group, I became more enchanted with the Church and felt that it had a lot to offer me. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't a Church freak. I wasn't preaching the Gospel or attending Bible Camp. I wasn't even bringing up doctrinal or theological topics with my family. I was enjoying the Campus Ministry group and my immersion in service while remaining a typical kid. My love for the Church was probably unknown to most in my life.

At the time of my graduation from High School, I was Catholic. I saw no threat to this association in my future - I was off to a prominent Catholic college, and I was leaving the rather arelgious home in which I had been raised. I figured that I would be facing fewer challenges to my "faith" than I did already. I turned out to be very wrong.

College didn't destroy my faith in the typical way, and it did not do so immediately. Freshman year I attended Mass regularly for the first time since we had as a family in elementary school. I loved the acoustic music of our late night mass and the large number of students in attendance was comforting. However, sometime between then and now my faith took a different turn.

I think I'll continue with this tomorrow!

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