Being a Catholic in 2016

I’ve wanted to write about this kind a thing for a while but I feel like talking about things like religion openly is a bit stigmatised and can open some heated debate. But that is exactly why it should be spoken about, so the air can be cleared a wee bit and we can be comfortable talking about our religion (should you have one or not) in a progressive way, u know.

Disclaimer here that I’m definitely not any kind a Saint and I don’t think that I am. If there was such a thing as Catholic a the year I would’ve been right out a the running a good time ago. However, I get a lot from my religion and would consider myself a “practising Catholic’ and I just thought it would be cool to write something about why it can be difficult to practice a faith as a young person in 2016 without being all preachy.

Just before, I mentioned the idea of being a “practising Catholic”. I feel like we need to be a bit cautious a that term. Religion is different things to different people and they should be left to practise it however they like. However, like if you asked somebody to define what made a practising Catholic they would probably say somebody that actively goes to mass on a Sunday, maybe reads the bible and carries about rosary beads but it’s soooo much more than that man! Sure the things I’ve just mentioned could be seen as important in Catholicism but it’s not the be all and end all. For me, the concept of being a “practising Catholic” is about putting faith into action. So cool, like we hear about selfless acts in the gospel on a Sunday but what are we doing about it? I think its about taking what we learn in mass and in our spare time about our faith and putting it into practice every day – but without it being a task. It sounds difficult but I think if you are really invested in a religion (which not everybody is and I totally understand that and wholly welcome it everybody should be doing their own thing) then it doesn’t seem like a task, but it’s enjoyable.

I’m not going to sit here and claimed that I have welcomed my faith all my life, cos that would be nonsense. I’ve went to chapel since I was a wee girl but when I was about 15 my Dad told me that the decision was mine now and I didn’t have to go with him if I didn’t want to – so I stopped. I stopped for a year or two and genuinely felt a difference. I don’t want to say I felt unhappy cause I didn’t, but I did feel like something was missing. So I started going back when I was 17 and found there was something more to gain from going to mass out of my own prerogative rather than having to go with my family out of obligation. That wee hour or so in mass on a Sunday brings me so much peace I can’t even put into words like I don’t want to sound preachy but its class! Its nice to be reminded what its all about and sit in a place of worship with other like-minded people like you. When I started going back to chapel I realised there was so much more to it than showing face on a Sunday, and the whole concept a putting faith into action as often as possible really appealed to me. I’m not going to sit here and make out that I do brilliant things every day and I am this entirely selfless and giving person because I’m not, none of us are – but its good to try and give the best of yourself as often as you can.

I think there’s this idea that people who go to mass are old and it’s a dated concept, and its this sort of idea that makes people want to stop going when they become teenagers. I’m quite fortunate that in my parish theres a lot of young people, but I know that’s not the same everywhere. It’s a big deal to stick your neck out when you’re in secondary school or uni and say that you’re religious. In light of the endless acts of violence and persecution towards Muslims and Christians and every other faith understandably makes some people look at the concept of religion and think “patch that.” This combined with the conflicting ideas of the Church on things like abortion and gay rights means that there are so few young people practising their religion – its painted to be complex and exclusive in the media but for me it’s not at all.

I’m not going to sit here and make out I have the answers for everything, because I don’t. I wish I knew why the Church won’t wholly progress on  the views that they have on abortion and gay rights – I wish I did, because I don’t agree with them. But that’s where I find comfort in my faith, in the hope that one day I’ll be able to understand why what I think and what the Church thinks doesn’t always correlate and why there’s badness and violence in the world. On paper, any religion is complex but it doesn’t have to be. I’m fully aware that with writing this there’s going to be people reading it and squinting their face firing it intae their group chat thinking what an absolute ridneck for this lassie but this why I’m saying what I’m saying – to try and shake this stigma that if you’re under 50 and go to mass and actually enjoy it that it’s questionable cos it isn’t! I work in a pub and I remember somebody coming up to me a few months ago and saying “Here, fuck the Pope. You hate aw that don’t you?” Well like, aye I dae a wee bit but when you live in the west a Scotland you’re almost used to it. To an extent, we almost can’t be entirely angry at the degree to which religious ignorance and hatred is rife in the West of Scotland – cos it’s kind of all that we know as a society. People are born into this community where there’s discrimination and violence and intolerance and because they’re born into it, they are conditioned to think that its normal. We don’t have to keep breeding it, we can stop it! Not everybody has to be into faith but its all about welcoming and accepting other people that are x

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