Why I'm (Still) Catholic
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Why I'm (Still) Catholic

"As a person who has searched high and low for joy and peace, I've found that the only authentic source has been my faith."

Why I'm (Still) Catholic

It is fairly common for people to practice religion, or lack thereof, differently once they enter their college years. Some will choose to get involved in religious communities their university has to offer, while others may choose to abandon the religion completely. One main reason is that now there is no one telling you or "forcing" you to attend any church services or things of the sort. You don't have your parents hovering over your shoulders, having you go to mass or church or temple with them.

Since I've been at the university, I personally chose to at least continue to go to mass on Sundays, although not always at the Newman Center (the center serving Catholic university students) but at other nearby parishes as well. Recently, I've also begun trying to deepen my faith. Many people probably wonder how anyone can still be Catholic, especially with all that has occurred in the past year regarding the sex abuse scandals and society's increasingly liberal standpoint.

Firstly, I just want to preface that true Catholics absolutely do not condone the scandals and every single clergyman who has ever done anything of the sort MUST abandon positions held at any parishes and be put in prison. These men are in the wrong; the Catholic faith teaches that sex should be reserved for couples united in holy matrimony and that any sexual act committed outside of that is a grave sin. The situations with the scandals are absolutely terrible, saddening, and frustrating to me. They should NEVER happen; however, if this is deterring you from returning to or staying in the Church, take it from me that there are so many more good priests than bad. It is an issue within those clergymen themselves, and not with the Catholic faith.

I have met many priests who are some of the kindest, most joyful, most wonderful people. The way I see it is that if you believe in something and believe it has a good cause, and there are grave flaws in the leadership, then the leadership must change; you don't have to reject the cause.

In addition, the reason I have so much faith in Catholicism is the fact that I know it's complete. I know that it is the same Church that Jesus founded through his apostle Peter (who was also the first pope) and that all popes can be traced back to him. I know that when I attend mass I am professing the same truths which have been professed for over 2,000 years. I also know that I have never known a greater peace and joy in my life than when I am in grace and actively living for Christ.

Yes, there have been times when I've let my faith fall by the wayside and not really practiced my faith or lived by the commandments, and yes, it might feel like great freedom and fun for a little while. However, after some time, I start to realize that I'm not truly happy living life that way. These periods are actually also the times that I've been at my lowest points, had my deepest pitfalls of depression, and suffered my worst anxieties. It is not until I return to God, realizing my worth and purpose, that I can feel complete joy. No "radical self-love" can replace the love that comes from God if only we're willing to accept it. I've come to learn that the commandments are not simply "rules" to make our lives miserable; rather, they allow us to love one another more deeply than could ever be possible. They allow us to live more fully.

I truly am sorry to anyone who has ever had a bad experience with Catholicism, and to anyone who has only been taught about it as a rigid form of rules with no joy. I hope that if you ever decide to return to the Church (or join), that you may only experience love and kindness. I feel very blessed to have been able to grow up as a Catholic and to continue my Catholic faith the way I have. As a person who has searched high and low for joy and peace, I've found that the only authentic source has been my faith. And this is why I'm still Catholic.

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