Friday, January 02, 2009

My Year is Over

I promised myself that I wouldn't make any judgments or form any opinions about organized religion until I'd walked a full year in church. I didn't say I wouldn't grow or learn, nor did I set any requirements about what I had to or could not do. My goal was simply to experience and attempt to understand what it was all about. My year is over.

How can one summarize a year of spiritual growth? I have no idea. I can't hope to relate all that I've learned. Between weekends spent pouring over ecclesiastical law (boring!), asking everyone from my boyfriend to the local priests and deacon countless questions, and getting into religious discussions that would have made Christ Himself shout "enough already!" with my friends, I think I've covered quite a bit. I have seen a full liturgical year within the Catholic Church, a full year of celebrations, mourning, and discovery. I've read most of the catechism, dozens upon dozens of websites full of both pro- and anti-Catholic information, and surfed through the Bible like I was studying for exams. That's a lot of information, by the way, and I took my studying seriously. I knew I wouldn't get anything out of this experience if I didn't throw myself into it body and soul.

What have I learned and taken away from this experience? A year is hardly enough time to realize what I've truly taken away, but I know I still have a lot to learn. I have a huge respect for the Catholic faith, and I feel more at home there than anywhere else now. I also realize, more than ever, how much I dislike people who force religion or try to make others believe just as they do. My conviction to support basic human rights and dignity is even stronger now, and I hope that others will see how important it is to respect every human (especially those we dislike).

What now? Well, I'm not sure. I think I have the basics under my belt. I know the differences between Protestantism and Catholicism. I know when to sit, stand, and kneel. I know I won't burst into flames if a little holy water falls on me (hehe). I also know God in ways I never would have imagined, and I enjoy sitting in prayer whether at home or in the Perpetual Adoration Chapel. I will continue to grow and live my life both inside and outside the church. Hopefully I'll find more support than the four people who actively encouraged me over the last year... but I'll go at this on my own if I have to. This journey has always been about finding a new piece of me, and I've done exactly what I set out to do.

My year is over. A new one is just beginning... we'll see how it goes.

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