So I know I mentioned this last week, but we are still watching “Freedom to Love,” a series on Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. I’m not going to give a mini lecture about chastity (if you want to know more, you should totally come to the Newman Center on Tuesdays at 7 pm to watch the series). I’m going to talk about something that keeps others away from the Catholic Church. In this week’s video, Christopher West talked about growing up Catholic and how he turned away from the Faith because he felt like the rules or values were forced upon him. Once he got to college he used his new freedom to live a life that was not very Christian. I know many people who had a similar experience. Growing up Catholic they were told that their desires were wrong or bad, and the answer to most things was “no”. Often, when I tell someone who isn’t Catholic that I am, they get uncomfortable. It’s disheartening because despite what many think, the Catholic Church isn’t trying to make our decisions for us. We believe that everyone has the right to make their own decisions. However, the Church tries to help lead us to the better decision. The more we learn about our Faith, the more we realize how freeing the Church can be. Those who have had Catholicism imposed upon them, or those who try and force the faith upon others, aren’t fully understanding the real mission.
I had never stopped to think about what is keeping us from being free today. After all, we are supposed to be living in a free country? We aren’t free though if you really look at our lives today. Society and “social norms” are taking away our right to decide for ourselves. There are many who are pressured into following what is most “popular” at the time. We believe that going with what is common in society is what it means to be free, but that is a prison in itself. Being pressured into a decision because that’s how we fit in is a trap. Catholicism is supposed to lead us to a place where we are truly free from the prison that society encloses us in. I hope that those who have turned away from the Church, or are opposed to the teachings of the Church, find their way back and see that Catholicism isn’t a prison. And I hope that those who try to force our religion upon someone else learn that that isn’t something the church practices as a whole.