Attending Church In College

In A World Where Teenagers Have Stopped Attending Church, I Make Sure To Go Every Weekend

It's more than just a weekly requirement to me.

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Ever since I could remember, my family and I attended church together every weekend. We picked my grandparents up at approximately the same time every Saturday and would park in the spot closest to the church. Every time, we assembled into the pew in the same exact order.

Everyone in the parish was familiar with us and we had bonded with a large number of other families. The priests knew us each by name since we had all been dedicated members of that church for years. Attending mass on the weekends was a huge part of our weekly routine and I imagined I'd continue this tradition with my own children when the time came.

To this day, my family still attends mass every week and I continue to join them on my weekends home from college. A weekend with my family wouldn't be complete without going to mass and performing our normal church rituals. For many teenagers, though, this isn't the case.

After receiving the sacrament of Confirmation, my class was thrilled, but not because they had just been inducted as an adult member of the church. They were excited about the party that would be held for them later that day and the checks their family members would give them, but they were most delighted with the idea that they'd no longer need to go to religious education class weekly and for a large portion of the class, they'd never have to return to church.

It was a huge surprise to discover that more than half of my religious education class participated simply to receive their sacraments and please the older members of their families. Since that goal was now achieved, their parents would no longer continue bringing them to mass every week and the only time they'd return to church would be for a wedding or the occasional holiday mass.

I was aware that my parents didn't view the situation the same way, so I'd need to continue going to mass every week. At the time, I didn't understand why this was the case and I even viewed it as some sort of punishment. I had grown up with the idea that missing church was a sin and part of our faith meant going to church weekly. It didn't seem worth mentioning to my family, so I kept going simply because I knew it would please them.

It wasn't until I began college that I realized it had actually been years since I made my own decision to continue attending church and it was no longer because my family wanted me to. At any point in my teenage years I could've expressed to my mother that I wanted to stop going, but I truly never wanted to.

I know that she would've been disappointed, but would've accepted my decision because I was at the age where I could make my own choices. From the time I was allowed to remain home by myself, I probably could've ditched going to church, but I didn't feel the urge to.

Beginning college, I had figured that not "having" to go to church anymore would be liberating because that's how my peers had made it seem, but I very soon realized that I actually enjoyed attending church every weekend. For me, church is an hour of the day where I can reflect on all that I'm grateful for and I didn't like the idea of not having that anymore. Starting college allowed me to realize the blessing and privilege that going to church is and I had taken it for granted for far too long.

When I decline plans with my friends during church time or my friends and I share our religious habits, almost everyone is shocked to discover that I still take part in mass every week. It was almost as if it was "uncool" to continue going to church once we'd passed a certain age.

At first, I played along and would agree that it was "so annoying" that I had to go to church instead of hanging out with my friends even though that wasn't actually the way I felt. Now, I simply tell them "Sorry, I can't" and continue on with my day because I know they have their own way of practicing their religion and I shouldn't be ashamed of mine.

Attending mass only takes up a mere hour of my whole week, so it's really not a burden at all. In fact, it's one of the highlights of my week. It's an extremely tranquil period of time devoted towards something I'm very passionate about, my religion. Life becomes extremely hectic and I often forget to pray once a day like I intend to, so this hour really allows me to thank God for all I have and connect with my loved ones that have passed away. I love being able to openly sing all of the hymns and hear the homilies each week which are often filled with jokes or inspirational advice.

I understand that everyone practices their faith in different manners, and I really like the way my family and I choose to practice ours. Even though I have the opportunity not to attend church with my family anymore, I still do because I've learned to really appreciate that hour of my week whether other people view it the way I do or not.

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17 Empowering Bible Verses For Women

You go, girl.
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We all have those days where we let the negative thoughts that we're "not good enough," "not pretty enough" or "not smart enough" invade our minds. It's easy to lose hope in these situations and to feel like it would be easier to just give up. However, the Bible reminds us that these things that we tell ourselves are not true and it gives us the affirmations that we need. Let these verses give you the power and motivation that you're lacking.

1. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future."

2. Psalm 46:5

"God is within her, she will not fall."

3. Luke 1:45

"Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her."

4. Proverbs 31:17

"She is energetic and strong, a hard worker."

5. Psalm 28:7

"The Lord is my strength and my shield."

6. Proverbs 11:16

"A gracious woman gains respect, but ruthless men gain only wealth."

7. Joshua 1:9

"Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

8. Proverbs 31:30

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised."

9. 1 Corinthians 15:10

"By the grace of God, I am what I am."

10. Proverbs 31:26

"When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness."

11. Psalm 139:14

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

12. 1 Peter 3:3-4

"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God."

13. Colossians 2:10

"And in Christ you have been brought to fullness."

14. 2 Timothy 1:7

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."

15. Jeremiah 29:11

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'"

16. Exodus 14:14

"The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm."

17. Song of Songs 4:7

"You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way."

Next time you're feeling discouraged or weak, come back to these verses and use them to give you the strength and power that you need to conquer your battles.

Cover Image Credit: Julia Waterbury

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You Ain’t Waiting For God To Bring You Your Dinner, You Get Up And Go Cook It

My words often get jumbled and don't make sense, so I figured writing it would help me come across clearly.

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Dear guy friends of mine,

I want you to know how grateful I am for your friendship. Having close guy friends has helped me better understand men and learn how the male species operates. I've been able to ask you so many questions and you've responded with thoughtfulness, kindness, grace, and honesty. I appreciate your willingness to talk to me.

I want to encourage you in something, and with some of you I have tried, but I think I came across as a little crazy. From what I've been told by married women, guys are very afraid of actual crazy. You want your girl to have some crazy (because all women have at least a little bit of crazy), but you don't want her to be, like, crazy. I get that and respect that.

I want to encourage you to ask girls out. It's scary. You're afraid of rejection. I know this because several of you have told me so. I recently spoke with a guy who's been married for a few years and has a baby daughter. He told me that you guys are scared, you don't want to put your heart on the line and have it crushed. That's a good reason not to pursue girls: you'll remain safe and free from hurt if you don't put your feelings out there.

But here's the other side of it: You'll never find that girl if you never search for her. Now, I know that all things happen in God's timing and as imperfect humans, we can't force things to happen outside of God's timeline. However, Pastor Matt Chandler of The Village Church in Dallas, Texas said this in a sermon several years ago:

"But something's happened in evangelical circles where if you're single you're supposed to not want to be married, but be content in a spot and that's somehow more glorifying than following God's wiring of you to want a mate. And so in the end what happens is that you walk around like a liar. I mean, poor young ladies! Almost all of them have been told, "As soon as you're content, God will send you a man." So you've got hundreds of thousands of women running around acting content! "I'm content, where is he?" You've got other guys going, "You know, I'm just gonna wait for God to bring me the right one." Well, you ain't waiting for God to bring you your dinner, alright? You get up and go cook it."

Pastor Chandler goes on to say that he's not telling the guys to go on the hunt and prowl. No! He's telling guys that they have a role to play in pursuing a woman to marry. Girls have a role to play, too. Girls can't just hang out with their girlfriends in hopes that they'll lock eyes with Prince Charming while in the grocery store or walking their dog in the park. No, girls need to build up the guys in their lives and respect them by letting the guys be guys and giving them opportunities to be gentlemen. That's what I appreciate about you guys, my guy friends. You are such gentlemen and I love that. Don't be afraid to ask out the girl that you think is sweet, cute, pretty, funny, kind, silly, honest, loyal, and the right amount of crazy. You've got this!

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