It's Good Friday again. This has got me thinking about the role that my Catholic faith has played in my life over the years.
The practice of my faith has always been there with since about the age of 13 -- I say 13 because that was about the age when I was confirmed. Part of the preparation for the Catholic sacrament of confirmation seems to involve going on some kind of religious retreat. In my case, it involved spending a weekend at a youth center on the south side of the small city where I grew up. The center was run by a priest who was a real character -- he shared the place with two LARGE Irish wolf hounds, and liked to wake everyone up in the morning by playing Spike Jones records. Anyway, I can recall meeting with everyone else on retreat in the center chapel and praying together. I've had several points in my life where I've felt a genuine connection with the divine... this was the first of them.
After that, I spent much of my teens being a good practicing Catholic. I went to confession three times a year, to Mass on Sundays and holidays (including Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil -- the "big three"), served as an altar boy and sang in the Church choir, and taking on large helpings of Catholic guilt at regular intervals. Church for me at that time felt like participating in a community and identifying myself with a community of people. I
That changed a bit when I finally went away to college. I was busy studying a great deal of that time, and Mass never seemed to be a huge priority. One thing that was unique about my practice of my faith in those years: the parish for the University I attended knew how to do a good folk mass, strumming guitars and everything. I don't know quite how they did it... maybe it was all the young college students singing along. It just seemed to make sense. Folk masses have rarely made sense to me since.
After that, the practice of my faith lapsed for a couple years, until I got involved with the Newman Society at my graduate school. That signalled several more years of heavy involvement in a Christian community, but more to be involved with a group of like-minded people. Perhaps that is an inevitable part of the growth of faith -- I cannot see the world with the purity or passion of an adolescent. I eventually became so engrossed in the workings of the Newman Society that it dimished the practice of my faith. I could not attend Mass without thinking of the petty struggles that were going on among the players there.
My time since then has been marked another ebb of faith. Be it the difficulty of completing a dissertation, or finding a job and setting up a new life, but I haven't been going to church much. I still pray often as I always have, but, I haven't been making much outward effort to practice my faith.
I think that perhaps that is changing. Girlfriend S. is also a Catholic in a similar circumstance, and we see the mutual exercise of our shared faith as a way to bring us both back to where we want to go.
on 2003-04-18 at 3:33 p.m.
The Wayback Machine - To Infinity And Beyond