As we have been going through this fall semester, I know some of you are just coming into college. Some of you are moving away from your parents and will no longer have them on your back about going to church or being involved with it. Now that you are in college and are adults, you have to make that decision on your own. Not only this, but you will encounter many trials in your first year of college that may test your faith. College is filled with a vast group of people from different religions, different backgrounds, different cultures; they will not agree on everything you agree on or believe in everything you believe in. For this reason, you have to ask yourself, is what I believe in important? Once we understand more about our faith, defending it becomes much easier. This was true for me.
I want to share a personal experience with you from my freshman year (which was last year). In one of my classes, I was given a research assignment, we were told to pick a hot topic about things we were interested in or passionate about. I wanted to pick something to do with Catholicism. I didn’t know what exactly, but of course there are a lot of debates about religion of course. I decided that I would do research on Christianity in the Government. As part of the assignment, during one of our classes we participated in an activity called “devil’s advocate” where you are paired with another person who will try to shoot down the arguments for your topic. My partner ended up knocking every argument I had down and it got to a point where I didn’t even know what I was even debating about anymore. I felt depressed and guilty that I couldn’t defend my faith. Not to mention, I had been Confirmed and I still did not know how to defend what I believe in. This fed a fire inside me to further my research about Catholicism. I went to my seminar teacher and she helped set out some topics that had to do with Christianity. Though she didn’t say anything about it, she is Catholic and had a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe in her office. Through her guidance, I felt as though I had a guardian angel cheering me on and to not give up. I chose to write on the Catholic stance that dealt with euthanasia, abortion, and the death penalty. I knew how controversial these topics were but I wanted to learn the Catholic views. I felt that without digging deeper into the views of my faith, I could never defend what I believe in. I did a lot of research, including talking to Amy. I would also go to one of my English teachers to get an outside view. Though, I know I wasn’t supposed to be biased, I was in a way because of the topic I chose. It felt like I was playing tug of war with my teacher on the whole research paper and there were so many of my classmates who would persecute me for choosing to debate about Catholic views. I was presenting both sides objectively but because I chose to investigate the Catholic view, it offended people. My English teacher recommended that I shorten the topic. I decided to pick only part of the topic; I chose the Catholic stance on the Death Penalty versus those for and against the Death Penalty. This made it easier to research and present. In the end, I was chosen to speak at the First Year Research Conference. I decided that I really just had to get all my facts straightened out and my Power Point set up to present. From the time I picked my new topic I had about three days to get it all together and practiced and ready. I was stressed beyond belief.
The day finally came where I would present my research in the First Year Conference. I was extremely nervous. I prayed to God that everything would go okay as I went to set up my presentation. The presentation was going smoothly and I presented as best as I could with all the information I gathered. I felt very confident. At the end, people could ask questions, there were so many people who tried to knock my topic down or try to throw a curveball question. I handled them the best that I could. Finally, after the questions, the time was up. I made it through the presentation and I felt so relieved.
The point of this story is that even though I got shot down by questions, accusations, and disbelief, I persevered and chose to defend my faith. I kept researching and learning more about my faith and in the end, I learned more about it than I ever knew I would, I finally felt proud to call myself a Confirmed Catholic. I want my story to inspire you to keep that burning fire for our religion at the center. When people tell you that you shouldn’t believe in God and that Catholicism doesn’t matter, don’t let them take that right of religion away from you. Just because they don’t believe in something doesn’t mean you can’t. Especially in college, when everyone is adamant about being right, just stay true to yourself. Our religion is precious and when you choose to defend God, you choose to have eternal life with Him in heaven. So brothers and sisters, when faced with challenges that call you to defend our faith don’t back down and cower, be a lion in the midst of lambs, and stand up for who you are: a son or daughter of our Father most Holy!