This is a question that we all struggle with sometimes. It relates to many facets of our existence, some insignificant, others determining. Some are choices, others into which we are born. Think about it, our whole life we are asked to choose … Coke or Pepsi, Ford or Chevy, Republican or Democrat, believer or unbeliever, Catholic or Protestant, etc.
It took me a long time to figure out that a lot of what we think are options that we have to select in order to fit into a group really don’t matter. They are invented by marketers who try to get us to buy a particular item or brand, donate money to a cause, or vote in a certain way. At the risk of putting on my foil hat for a minute, I don’t think the consequence of dividing ourselves further into “us and them” is unintended.
So what does “us and them” matter? It is not as superficial as choosing a group to identify with. As someone born and raised in a Catholic family, but who has spent most of my adult life as a “no” (spiritual but not participating in an organized religion), I understand some of the reasons why people choose to be ‘no’. I have been put off by people who use religious affiliation to advance their own agendas. I started looking just for hypocrisy and found it, and I didn’t want to be one of them. I can’t logically explain what brought me back to church, but that was largely because I met people of genuine faith who made me question what I lacked, and being mature and courageous enough to walk through the doors and find out.
As I returned to church and learned more, I discovered the beauty of Catholicism and its sacraments. I see that the reasons I rejected my faith as a teenager were for a few people, not the church. I see that the foundation of faith that I was raised with is what carried me through my struggles, I always knew I was a part of something bigger than myself. I am so grateful that my parents raised me in a church, even though I didn’t appreciate it when I was a child. Now, I’m looking for people of genuine faith, I see them all around me, and I want to be one of them.
Now I know I am a child of God, and practicing Catholicism is how I continually draw closer to him. I am raising my children in faith because I want them to know the unconditional love of God. I want them to know that when times are good, when tragedy strikes, and even when I miss them, that God is always there. They should always have hope because they belong to him. I want all children and adults to know this. Our secular world suffers from a lack of hope. People try to be satisfied with fleeting pleasures like drugs, alcohol, and goods, but the only thing that brings lasting joy is gratitude for all that God offers us.
We don’t just need more people to claim to identify as Catholics, Methodists, Baptists, etc. We need more people to recognize that everyone is a child of God and that faith is a gift of love that must be shared. Please don’t you want to join us?