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Powerful Essays
My Religious Odyssey

You can take the girl out of Catholic School…

Most people grow up with some type of belief system. Judaism, Christianity, Islam and even Agnosticism are some examples. It wasn’t until I had a child that I realized that religion was just man’s way of explaining God. Even as a kid, however, I always believed in a higher being. Not just because of my very heavy-handed Catholic upbringing. I questioned many things about my religion. Since I loved science, I was confused about how the “Big Bang” and Adam and Eve coexisted, but I always knew that God existed. I had no scientific irrefutable evidence – I just had faith. You know how they say everything you ever really need to know you learned by first grade? Well it wasn’t until I had both my faith and my life tested, that I fully came to realize that one’s spiritual journey in life doesn’t have so much to do with what religion one surrounds herself with, as much as the faith that one has in God. Faith is what defines a person’s spirituality as opposed to specific religions.

I was raised in a Catholic upbringing. I grew up in Chicago, which has the second largest archdiocese in the U.S. I was baptized as an infant at St. Sabina’s and attended high school at Mother McAuley Liberal Arts, run by the Sisters of Mercy nuns. Catholicism is a religion steeped in ritual and tradition and so I vividly remember my first holy communion in the first or second grade, and my Confirmation, when in the seventh grade I reaffirmed my decision to be both a Catholic and a Christian. I also remember the many hours of study, every year, in religion classes that were required in each grade level. I had cousins who weren’t Catholic who spoke of religion classes taking place only in Sunday school. I did not have Sunday school. I had

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday school. Every class attended mass at least one other day during the week, in addition to Sunday. I remember learning how to pray the rosary beads and knowing certain holy days and saints, important to the Catholic religion. We also participated in confession, where we told a priest about our sins and transgressions, and he gave us a penance to absolve us from guilt. If one is looking for a pomp and circumstance religion, then Catholicism is the one for you. Since about eighty-five percent of the school also attended the church, th...

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...c ministry featured both the gospel music I had come to love at Lincoln Heights in addition to the hymns I grew up with at St. Margaret. The pastor believed that he was a sinner just like me and spoke of the church in terms of God’s people, versus a building. Most importantly, I felt a strong connection between myself and God and the other worshippers. They seemed to sense that I needed assistance in my spiritual odyssey, and reached out to me. Most of the congregation had attended Carmel Presbyterian for generations and were looking for new people to help rejuvenate the church. They openly embraced my family and we happily reciprocated. I had finally found a church home.

Throughout my religious odyssey, from Catholicism to Baptist beliefs to Presbyterian creed, faith in God remained the one consistent sustaining value in my life. Faith helped me determine that religion by itself is not the most important qualifier in a person’s spiritual odyssey. Faith also helped me to develop a closer relationship with God and is what helped fortify my spiritual growth throughout difficult life struggles. Faith in God versus faith in religion is what most matters on life’s spiritual journey.
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