Speaking Out: Choosing my Catholic faith

By  Christina Donati, Youth Speak News
  • July 11, 2018

I grew up always attending Catholic school, from elementary school through university.

As a 23-year-old now, I don’t have any regrets about this choice my parents made for my early education. But reflecting back, I definitely think that there’s a fine line between making faith a choice and not just an obligation. 

I come from a religious family where my grandparents passed down their beliefs and devotion to God to my parents and eventually to myself and my siblings. My family celebrated all religious holidays and I was expected to be a part of the ceremony in one way or another (such as doing readings or singing). For every sacrament I received, it wasn’t even a question about whether or not I would be participating. Essentially, I have always been guided toward a certain path and have just been expected to follow it.

This makes sense coming from a Catholic family. However, I eventually got to a point in my life where I often wondered what other beliefs there are in the world. 

If I’m being completely honest, I felt pressured to take a certain direction with my faith, and that’s what started to turn me off from being a devoted Catholic citizen. With my own experiences, I never felt like I had a choice. As an adult who is now faced with making many difficult choices every day, I question whether I would be where I am if I had the choice in my faith.

When I took a world religions class in Grade 11, we were taught about many other faiths. I love the idea of meditation derived from Buddhism and I love practising yoga derived from Hinduism. Although practising these methods doesn’t change my religion or make me part of a new one, it allows me to believe there is room for more learning and understanding of other faiths. 

Learning about other religions helped me appreciate the Church more. It helped me understand the importance of community in our practice. It helped me learn the importance of tradition and being connected to ancient prayers and rituals. I learned that God is truly universal and that everyone can know Him. 

I don’t have any regrets with my parents bringing me up with my Catholic faith. Whether I had the choice or not, I’m happy with who I am and what I believe in, but this isn’t a feeling that every other youth shares. If there isn’t immense pressure for children to follow their Catholic beliefs because their parents say so, they may be able to find it on their own. I strongly believe that kids are smart enough to know what is right for them. 

Faith should be a balance of guidance toward the right path, but also leaving room for youth to grow on their own. 

As I said before, and I believe this more than ever, your faith is a special relationship with you and God alone, and that relationship should be a choice, not an obligation. 

(Donati, 23, is a fourth-year English and sociology student at Western University in London, Ont.)

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