Monday, May 14, 2012

Part One: My Catholic History (in brief)



“Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.” – St. Augustine

At times it is simply a mystery to me how I held on to my Catholic identity.

 I was raised Catholic and went to a Catholic school until I was in the eighth grade. I went to a public high school, but very willingly attended CCD (religious education classes) as well as Totus Tuus(for some reason I cannot get the link to work correctly:  http://catholicdioceseofwichita.org/totus-tuus/totus-tuus-home) in the summer. I became active in youth group. It never occurred to me to take a different path to be honest. This doesn’t mean that my faith has never been tested or challenged, but I always had a solid idea of where I was going in life even if I was fuzzy on the details. Being Catholic was not up for debate or compromise in my life. After high school I went to a state university, but even there I began attending daily Mass, and many of my friends and acquaintances were Catholic. I went on to spend two summers teaching Totus Tuus. My first summer teaching brought about a few changes in my life: new friends, the death of a role model, and lost friendships. I also began the difficult process of filling in the details of what I wanted to do with my life. This prompted a change of schools for my junior and senior years of college and an intense internal struggle with my personal discernment process. It meant I was headed back to a Catholic education. I spent the rest of college studying my faith as well as falling in love (a quick shout out to my husband!) It was important to me to take the basic principles of my faith beyond my eighth grade understanding. Teaching Totus Tuus was a strong motivator for this, but so was my life. Not many of my family members remained Catholic, not many of my friends did either. I was confirmed my junior year of high school (barely), and I had a very good idea of the kind of Catholic woman I wanted to be then, but I did not know why I wanted this. (I believe that the Catholic Church has some adjusting and expanding to do in regards to religious education standards, but this is a topic for another day).  I wanted to expand my knowledge of what it means to be a Catholic woman today, in America. To do this I studied. I asked questions. I entered into debates with priests and sisters. I discussed these things with my fellow Totus Tuus teammates and I surrounded myself with people that would challenge my beliefs so that I could learn more.  As my heart and mind became more devout, my struggles intensified, but only because I became more certain of my faith and more aware of my own imperfections. I am grateful for these experiences.

Of course, my journey as a Catholic does not end there. As a wife and mother, every day brings new challenges. That is precisely what I love about my Catholic faith: it is not a set of rules that you blindly follow, nor is it a list of things to do or not to do.  It is a way of life. It is a calling to know and love and believe when things are good and when things are difficult. It is all encompassing, and requires you to do the leg work.  I am incapable of understanding it all, but I have my entire life to work on it.

4 comments:

  1. Jess, I hear you. It is a struggle, but it's worth the reward. I have so much to be thankful for, especially my friends who have remained Catholic. I work for the Knights of Columbus, and I've found that having a group of Catholic friends makes the hard part of being Catholic just a little bit easier. I also support your feminism because I feel that as secular society "advances" we lose more and more of our identity within our own gender. I am surprised sometimes that I find myself talking about maintaining masculinity with regards to remembering what it really means to be a good man, or Gentleman, to act with chivalry, and a sense of duty for the women in our lives. Our society seems to be filled with either men who think it's manly to abuse a woman and force her to take birth control (see her as a sexual object), or men who become more effimanate every day. I could go on, but I feel I may get too preachy.
    Keep up the good work!

    - Bill Weber

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  2. Oh, and your Totus Tuus experience remended me of something. I had lunch with Fr. Bernie Gorges last week. I was telling him about my Brother's restaurant in Halstead and how it has a barber shop next door to the south and a salon next door to the North. I paused and said, "let me explain Father, those are places where people get their hair cut." I thought I'd explain that since it's been a while (bald burn). He almost shot his drink out of his nose.

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    1. @Bill Weber. Well it's a small world! My family and I moved from his parish (St. Patrick) two years ago. He is still very dear to us. If you see him again please tell him hello for us.

      Karla Taylor

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  3. Thanks for the support, Bill! The next post will explain a little about my take on feminism and how I feel the term has been largely misused as of late. It is beautiful to see a movement that seeks to reclaim the term so that it doesn't merely define one perspective. I think there is also a little bit of a movement at foot where men are seeking to reclaim as well. I am so excited to have an outlet for these thoughts because when I discuss them I see the big picture boiling down to the root problems that need to be addressed (violence towards women, for one) and this will be my way to map it out!
    I loved teaching Totus Tuus. It was a very positive experience for me. I also was happy to see that you are involved with my "old" youth group! It is nice to see they are around still.

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