I was baptized into the Catholic church before I turned 1-year-old so for as long as I can remember I have been a part of the church. Throughout my life, I have gotten a lot of questions and judgment for my faith but it has always stayed strong. I've learned a lot of things by growing up Catholic, things that still stick with me today. I am very appreciative that not only did I learn about how to worship and about Jesus's love, being Catholic has also taught me skills that I can use while at school, work, or in any type of social situation.
One of the major things that were instilled in me growing up in the Church is reading comprehension skills. I can remember being young, probably five or six, and being put in Sunday school. At the time, I hate having to go to school early in the morning on Sundays but during my time in Sunday school, we learned about Jesus and we wrote and drew pictures of things we were learning about. I believe this class helped me better my literacy especially because I was getting extra practice and some of the other kids in my class weren't getting.
Also, during mass, we sing hymns and songs from sheets that they hand out before the service starts. I can remember being next to my dad while he pointed at the words on the paper helped me follow along with the lyrics. This both helped me to be able to read music and to learn new words.
Another thing that I learned growing up in the Church was not to judge others. One of the major things that I was taught through the scriptures and homilies was that Jesus loves everyone, no matter the vices they may have. I was taught at a young age that one of the most important values that one can have is to respect and love others, especially if they don't have the same beliefs as you.
One unexpected thing I learned growing up Catholic was that people can be cruel towards you if they don't like what you believe in. For the most part, people are very respecting of me and my beliefs however, there have been times where people have been very rude to me because of my faith. One time in high school I was having a very innocent conversation with my neighbor, who was one of my closest friends and was also Mormon, about the differences in practices between our two faiths when a girl sitting in front of us (who was not part of the conversation) turned around and started to argue with me about the way in which Catholics practice religion and whether or not it was right.
To say I was angry would be an understatement, but I calmly explained to her my views and experience in the Church. Eventually, one of my other close friends, who was sitting next to her, yelled at her to stop being insensitive towards me.
Not only did this experience help me to stand up for myself and my beliefs, but it also showed me who would be in my corner if I needed them to be. I was extremely grateful for my two friends who stood up for me, they still are two of my closest friends to this day.
Overall, it hasn't been easy to be Catholic, especially with all the abuse of power within the hierarchy of the Church but it is my honest opinion that those men do not define what it means to be Catholic. There are so much love and respect that goes on behind the scenes that many people don't see and I wouldn't change that for the world.