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Paulist seminarian Tom Gibbons reflects on his formation experience and his life as a seminarian right now. Along the way, some questions will be will be answered, and a lot more will come up.

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March 22nd, 2011

What do YOU like about your faith?

 
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In today’s media environment, we invariably hear the stories about which things go wrong.  I guess it’s human nature to focus on the negative, but the focus of news organizations do have its place.  I think that when issues like the sex-abuse crisis continue to unfold, we do need to be reminded of it so that we don’t turn our eyes away from it, lest we conveniently skip over the lessons that we may have to absorb as a Church.  I remember during Benedict’s visit a few years ago, a Catholic commentator was on television claiming that the Church sex-abuse crisis had been put behind her and now we could all move on… 18 months later it exploded again in Europe.  Sadly, negativity has its place in the world.

That being said, I realized after writing my last post which focused on the letter a friend of mine wrote to me concerning the sex abuse crisis, it might be important to take a step back and share what I like about the Catholic Church.  Because I can get stuck focusing on the wrongs of a person or the failures of an institution as much as anybody.  I am more than capable of expelling gobs of self-righteous energy over issues that include (but are not limited to) the failure of McDonald’s to provide breakfast after 10:30 a.m.  But the danger is that while I can get so stuck on the negative things, in the process I can frequently miss the Quarter-Pounder with Cheese through the fries.

Buddy_christSo for this post, I’d like to open up a conversation around this question: what do you like about your faith?  This is a conversation in which anyone and everyone is welcome to participate and it can be for whatever reason; the reason you share can come from the depths of your soul, or it can be just a fun factoid of your life that others outside of your tradition might not get to participate.

For example, if you are Wicken, you might feel a certain sense of ownership the rest of us don’t feel for the Harry Potter franchise.  If you are Jewish, you might get a special thrill out of seeing the jealous faces of all of the other kids who DIDN’T get the day off for particular holidays.  You might not have even practiced your faith in a long time, but there are elements about it you either miss or really appreciated… that’s fine too, join right in!  Whatever the reasons might be, feel free to leave a comment, as long as the comment is affirming of your own faith and does not condemn another faith tradition or group.

So I’ll start.  I know that one reason I liked being Catholic growing up was because we were not allowed to eat meat during Lent, so my family always went out for pizza on Fridays.  During the rest of the year, dinner on Fridays was a role of the dice.  Dinner could be burgers (yum!) but it could also be corned beef and cabbage (not so yum).  Fridays during Lent, however, usually meant PIZZA.  And not just any pizza, but Scotto’s pizza.  Of course, that’s my fun reason.  Another reason is that my Catholic faith has exposed me to the needs of others in ways that I might not have otherwise having grown-up in my comfortable middle class environment of Northern New Jersey.  My faith has challenged me to look at the person who is asking for a dollar on the street in the same way I might look upon a family member in need… and has also provided me with forgiveness during the countless times I have failed to do so.

Of course, there’s even more to my faith than that, but that’s a good primer for now.  Start your commenting!

 
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The Author : Fr. Tom Gibbons
Since 2009, Tom Gibbons, CSP, has shared insights on faith, pop culture, and seminary life in the Kicking and Screaming blog here at Busted Halo. On May 19, 2012, Tom was ordained a Paulist priest at St. Paul the Apostle Church in New York City. He will begin serving St. Peter's Catholic Church in Toronto, Canada beginning in July 2012.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • MT

    I am a Catholic. One thing I like about my faith is it is about community. For example, we abstain – as a community – from eating meat on Fridays during Lent. It is something that is not well understood among some of Protestant family members (they go out for burgers on Lent Fridays because “they can”).

  • Kevin

    That last sentence should read “It really is amazing, and there is just so much, we can never hit the bottom of it.”
    iPod autocorrecting and such..

  • Kevin

    Aside from the Eucharist, Confession and the other things mentioned here already, I like that we have a few thousand years of history. The sheer amount of rich historical documents that we have available to us to learn from is amazing. There’s always something to learn about our faith. If we get bored, we can pick up a book about the saints or another devotion, we can strengthen our faith.
    It really is amazing, and there is just so NYC we can never hit the botto of it.

  • James

    I love the extensive treasure trove of thought, prayer and reflection that makes up our traditions and expressions of faith. I also love the diversity of charisms of the different saints and religious orders as well as the different religious and cultural traditions within each country and region of the world. It reflects a great Church tradition of being truly Catholic (universal) in both social justice and morality. Mostly I love the dedicated people who have dedicated their lives in the service of others. Their love and committment was built on a solid foundation of our Catholic faith. Great post Tom!

  • Mary Ann

    I love learning about the saints. Hearing their stories, especially saints like Augustine, who was not so saint-like in his youth, but through the power of the Holy Spirit and the prayers of his mother was brought to see the truth.
    Prayer gives me strength to face the challenges of each day. The rosary is wonderful for its tactile and meditative. My thoughts often wander when I pray, but the rosary helps me to come back from my mental wanderings. To contemplate the many gifts God has given me and appreciate the things that I may not have realized as a gift at the time I was experiencing them.
    I love the community of the church and the mass. Reconciliation is a wonderful gift, though I do not partake of this gift often enough.

  • Morgan

    I love that we have sacramentals – water, incense, beads, candles, etc, and that we have so many ways to celebrate outside of the mass (feast days, liturgical seasons…) It brings faith to life when you encounter it with your whole person and in so many ways and places, not just sitting in the pew on Sunday.

  • Kate

    I love so much about being Catholic, it’s hard to choose just one thing! Holy Eucharist, celebrations like Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper and Easter Vigil (can’t wait!), my own parish community… yikes! There is just too much to love!

  • kelly d

    I love the Eucharist….we can receive Jesus every single day & we can do this all over the world! It’s a fresh start for us daily, offering hope & grace & strength to be better people. LOVE it!

  • Hartson

    Ring the bells no more for the Most Great
    Bell has wrung…. This is part of the letter sent to the Pope by Baha’u'llah. Christ has returned with a new name. That is why I love my Faith. I am a Christian of the Second Coming.

  • Maureen

    Spent a year in Europe and attended mass weekly in many different languages I didn’t speak, yet I shared the faith of those there and always felt at home. The universality of the church and its history is pretty awesome to ponder…

  • Joe

    as a Catholic, you can’t beat fish and chips on Fridays. and Guinness.

  • Laura

    I love being Catholic. I can’t imagine my life without my faith. I was baptized in the Catholic Church when I was a baby, went to Mass throughout my childhood and into adulthood, experienced the sacraments, etc., but it wasn’t until the past year or so that I realized how IN LOVE I am with my faith.

    I love going to Mass. I love the tradition–especially because there is meaning in every single act. I love the communion of saints. I love that we honor Mary (not worship her, as many non-Catholics mistakenly believe). I LOVE the respect we have for other faith traditions…that we are constantly working to build bridges of peace with people of different faiths. I love that I can go to any Catholic Church anywhere in the world and feel at home–because the Catholic Church IS home to me–to my heart and soul.

    I love the personal relationship I am able to have with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I love having priests to go to as spiritual advisors…that those priests have committed their own lives to Christ and to his followers in a very special way. I love having nuns to go to as role models and spiritual advisors.

    I love the Eucharist. I love knowing that Jesus is RIGHT THERE with me in that moment. I’ve always felt something was missing when I went to other churches that weren’t Catholic, and I realized that it was because things actually WERE missing. Important things.

    Being Catholic is such a blessing to me. I can’t imagine my life without it. As a 33-year-old modern gal, I feel like this faith helps me be who I truly am.

    {I could write a novel on why I love the Catholic faith…but I’ll stop for now!}

  • CJM

    Tom,
    Great post. I couldn’t help but smile at the fact that both of our articles this week invoked McDonald’s – during Lent no less! Hope you are well :)

  • Dan

    As a Roman Catholic, there are many part of my faith I have grown to love. The more I grow in the knowledge of the church’s teachings, the more beautifully it opens to me.

    For a singular characteristic, I would point to RECONCILIATION. It refreshes me to have a moment with a priest to confess my sins aloud – to take ownership of my faults – and to hear that I am forgiven. It is a cleansing process unlike any other. Sometimes, I’m so embarrassed and awkward in my approach because I don’t want to admit the truth about my fallen nature, but I know I have to admit it and move on. Talking with the priest about this, hearing his recommendations about moving forward and a meaningful penance ties up the bundle of my sins and removes them from my shoulders.

  • Bill

    I am a cradle Catholic with more years of being a Catholic than most of your readers. Being a Catholic means everything to me. Its the community, the Eucharist, the knowledge that the Triune God is with me each day, Its all these things and more. I find solace in my religion. Living a good life has brought three converts to the Church.It is my home.

  • ml

    Nitpick: “Wiccan” and “ROLL of the dice.”

    I like that Catholicism helps me keep time during the day and the week and the year. My life ebbs and flows with the church calendar; I join in the mourning the loss of light and the anticipation of its return in Advent, and the Christmas season is truly joyous. I like being aware of one’s frailty and mortality during Lent. I love the St. Thomas Sunday after Easter and the (hopefully) great homilies that go with it.

    I love that even if we’re alone, or just being introspective, there are millions more being alone or introspective, and we can do that together, so we’re never truly alone. No one is an island, after all.

    I love the tactile nature of the Sacraments and sacramentals.

  • Steve

    Truth! If I wasn’t convinced that Catholicism wasn’t the truth (or at least the closest thing to the truth than humans can get), I wouldn’t be a Catholic.

  • karin

    No ! reason: The Eucharist
    but I also like that I can go anywhere and feel at home when I walk into a Catholic Church.

  • ivette

    I love being a Catholic because for every ritual or act their is a purpose and a loving tradition that accompanies these acts. When I found out that everytime I make the sign of the cross I am saying a prayer I was in awe. It’s not just swatting flies, it is a prayer itself and it gives me comfort that at anytime through out the day there are millions of my Catholic brothers and sisters doing the same thing!

  • Sabrina

    It helps me with my anxiety disorder and depression. It gives me hope. It helps me to help others.

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