Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Our Beliefs

Today I ate lunch in the campus minister's room for the first time. I would never have gone in there for lunch on my own, but someone who I would not have expected to lead me in there came and, well, led me in there. He is in the group that I eat lunch with everyday. I've come to like his high energy level and just being around him. Like most teenagers we do not talk about religion or beliefs or anything more deep than relationships at lunch. It's mostly things like "I really did not need to see that", "That was disgusting!"; or "(a teacher's name here) is awesome!" "I've never had him/her" "You cannnot go to this school without having him as a teacher. Once freshmen year, so-and-so said this and he just looked at him like (facial expression here) and then he just looked away like 'sad, really'." Or "the time this teacher and this teacher got into a lightsaber duel and (the one who always wears a darth vader mask during these duels) stepped on the edge of his own cape, slipped backwards, and landed on (short person here). And then (the teacher always dressed as Luke) lost his balance cause he was expecting (the other teacher)'s lightsaber to be there and it obviously wasn't, but he almost fell. He didn't, though. He caught his balance on a pile of books. The entire thing of books just fell onto the darth vader mask. (The teacher wearing the darth vader mask) had a headache for two days. It was perfect! Not that he had a headache, but... Do you remember that, Chives?" (This is not a true story, but I am surprised it has not happened yet).

Anyways..., we don't talk about religion, so I have no idea whether I eat with Atheists or Protestants or all Catholics. I have no idea what most of these people believe. So the campus minister and the guy who led me into the office started talking about what's going on with the drama club. And he calmly explained his concerns and why he is angry and who he is angry at, and she calmly listened, offereing advice on what to do about it. I was surprised at how calmly this guy spoke about the things that are really bothering him. This is the same guy who makes a show of how he can predict the kind of candy this other person is going to eat everyday. This is the same guy who greets people with waving arms and a loud voice from across the room. Then our campus minister, being the campus minister, offers him a spare cheap cross necklace from Oriental Trading or something, leftover from a retreat. That is when the discussion about religion began. He said no and kind of laughed at the suggestion. She asked him if he believes in God and he said no. She did not get mad and neither did he. Then she asked if he believes in any superior existance or whatever and he said "Well, I don't know, I guess not, no." She just said okay. I wanted to interogate him about his beliefs further, calmly, of course, cause I was curious. He started talking about how his mom wants him to believe in God, so she tells him that she's going to make him go to Church everyday until he graduates, and he wants no part of it. She talks about religion to him all the time because she wants him to believe in God. And he wants no part of it.

My history teacher has a few interesting, random facts and quotes and the like on his board everyday. Today, one of them said that when you call a dog to you and then punish it, you are teaching the dog not to come to you. What you should do is reward the dog when it comes to you and punish it by sending it away.

Today my mom was talking to me in the car. She told me about my aunt going to Adoration and I must have sighed dramatically or groaned or something. (My mom's voice changes when she starts talking about Jesus and Mary and the Eucharist and it drives me absolutely crazy.) My mom put on her religion lecture voice where she states her beliefs and asks me why I wouldn't hold the same beliefs as her. I freaked out, to put a long story short. She said it was uncalled for.

I was upset, and as I silently stared out the car window, I realized that you can not force anyone to believe anything. The more you lecture the more you push people away. The more you imply people are wrong, the more they will try to avoid you and what you stand for. The more you talk the less people will listen. No one likes being told that their beliefs are inferior to someone else's, no one likes being told what to believe, no questions asked. (Questions are a good thing)

Saint Francis of Assissi thought that it was better to preach with actions than with words. "Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words."
True, words are powerful. But truer still is the fact that actions speak to people more loudly than words.

Ultimately, the truth must be chosen by the individual. I believe all people of good will have chosen it, and I believe the best place to choose the truth is in the Roman Catholic faith. I believes our lives are shaped in great part by our choices, and our choices are shaped by our dearest beliefs. Therefore, our lives are to testify to what we believe is the truth. Not how well we lecture.

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