I am what you call a 'Cradle Catholic,' someone who was born and raised in the faith. I attended Catholic school, recieved all my sacraments and went to mass on every holy day of obligation with my mother & sister growing up. It's all I've ever known and it was expected of me.
There were always different...incentives for me to attend mass. When I was very young, we attended a Korean parish that had a kids room. All the young ones were herded in and allowed to have a free-for-all with buckets of toys and fellow children while their parents quietly enjoyed mass, much different from your average cry room where parents sit with their children and at least attempt to get them to behave. Needless to say, I looked forward to Sunday mass much more than the mass on Wednesdays at school b/c I had to actually pay attention during the latter. Then as I entered my teens, we moved to a city in South Carolina that had a really popular teen program. Throughout my adolescence I rarely missed mass and eagerly attended youth group every week. Unfortunately my foolish teenge motivation was because it was the 'cool' thing to do and for the cute boys I got to see after mass and not so much the graces I could recieve during the holy hour.
In college I became the lazy Catholic. Someone who still claimed to be one but didn't live like one. I hardly ever went to mass and made a lot of bad decisions during that period of my life, some that I still struggle with today. Looking back, I think the two went hand in hand. When I saw The Passion in 2004, my faith was renewed and I started going to mass and receiving the Eucharist again...but it was short-lived. After a few months, I fell back into my lazy ways.
Sometimes a jump start isn't enough and you have to replace the whole battery if you want your car to run. The battery in this random analogy was my understanding of the Catholic faith. I grew up simply doing what I saw my family doing and what was expected of me but I never took the time to ask myself if I truly believed and WHY. When friends would ask me why the Catholic church had so many 'rules,' I realized that I knew the trivial answers: why we have the sacraments, why we have a pope/bishops/priests, etc...but I didn't know WHY I held my faith to be TRUE. Without that conviction, I could never see the importance of fulfilling all my Catholic duties. I reasoned with myself that as long as I believed in Christ and I tried to live by his teachings, I was still a good person and that I wouldn't go to hell for missing mass. So with that, I became perfectly content with being a part-time Catholic.
My battery was finally replaced while attending marriage preparation classes. During the 1st session, a single quote popped up on the Power Point presentation, stopped me in my complacent tracks and made the inner light bulb turn on:
"The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness." -Pope Benedict XVII was so used to hearing modern society talk about what human nature is that I had completely forgotten I was not 'just human.' We were created to be like Him. We should not strive for good enough when we were intended for holiness. Though I have a loooong ways to go, I will never get any closer to achieving it unless I aim for it. Suddenly all the 'rules' made sense. I no longer saw them as restrictions. I saw them as a means to be liberated. Freed from the sufferrings that can make a thorny life.
I began to see the true glory of mass. Whenever I have a tough week, it's like the readings and homily are meant just for me. I am so overcome with emotion every time I kneel after receiving the Eucharist that I'm often brought to tears. Words can't explain how blessed I am to be able to celebrate the holy hour with my husband and son.
Some people don't have to stray before they learn to value their faith They're instilled with this unwavering certainty from the moment they're born and just KNOW what they hold to be true. My sister falls into this category and I admire her everyday for it. I, on the other hand, had to see what life was like without my faith to learn the beauty of my life with it.
I know religion can be a sensitive subject. By no means is the intent of anything said in this blog to push my faith or pass judgement on others. I just wanted to post an expression of my humble (and on-going) journey. Also keep in mind that I am an engineer, not a writer. I apologize for any grammatical errors or lack of literary....pizazz.