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The Struggles Of Being Born Catholic

     I was born and raised in the largest denomination of the Christian religion, Catholicism. I didn’t choose this religious identity, it was given to me. My only exposure to Christianity as a young child was through the lens of the my Catholicism. Then, once I was a little older, I went to a new school where I didn’t know anyone but my sister who was a freshman.

     On my first first day of school, I was herded and packed into this large chapel with the rest of the school where everyone started to sing along to songs that I had never heard before. People asked me why I was not singing along, and I responded sheepishly by saying “I’m Catholic, we don’t sing songs like this in Mass…” After chapel let out, I made my way to my first religion class that I had ever taken in school outside of Catholic CCD (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine). As I waited for class to be let in, I listened to my fellow students talk and crack Catholic jokes. A sense of confusion flooded my mind: why are they making fun of my denomination so much? My fellow classmates and I filed into class where everyone went around saying what their “home church” was (a phrase that was 100 percent foreign to me): I tell the class that I go to St. Augustine’s for Mass, and a defining roar of whispers sweeps through the class like a wave of judgement. Without hesitation a hand from the back row shoots up and asks, “is he even a Christian then?” Again I am confused, why would I not be a Christian? I love Jesus just like the rest of you all, right, or did I miss something?

     As the years continued I kept my head down as teachers poked fun at my denomination that I had no choice over.  Fast forward a couple years to my first year at Eastern University. By this time I had a chance to really look at all forms of Christianity. My parents and sisters had stopped going to Mass and started going to a larger non-denominational church but I continued to go to Mass whenever I could. I was really torn at this time in my life, could I turn my back on my culture and part of my tradition? Of course there was issues I had and still have with the Church and some of her practices, but I grew up with this in my life and at this point it felt like I was almost turning my back on family.

     Family is extremely important to me and I like to think I am a loyal person, so to walk away from the Church is such a drastic move for me. Besides, I had chosen to become confirmed in the Church, a decision which marks the point where you become an adult in the Church’s eyes. I know that like any relationships, you are going to have your ups and downs, you are going to have your disagreements and there are going to be things you plain old just don’t like. Does this mean that I should walk away from it all?

     I don’t know. I am still trying to figure all of this out. However there is one thing that I ask from you, the reader. Give us Catholics a break; stop bringing up atrocities that the Church committed a thousand years ago. We are not the same Church that we were. When you look at your own life story, you probably have chapters that you would rather not have read aloud or revisited. So please be respectful to our beliefs and tradition as we respect yours. Oh, and please stop using the rosary as an item of jewelry.

     May peace be with you.

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