I read the Youth Forum by Mary Scott Boras and Aine Kirby every month and I am jealous. I am envious of their courage to share their faith. I think I am younger than they are. I am just finished secondary school and I am waiting for my Leaving Cert results. But that is not why I am writing. The results are the past.
I am envious of Mary and Aine because they are not afraid. Maybe I am envious because they are old enough to be strong. I don’t have that strength. I know that schooldays are supposed to be the best days but I am not sure. They were not bad. But I felt like a fish out of water.
I am a Catholic. I know that. I have never had a doubt about that. But as a teenager, being Catholic is lonely. There are not many. I am the only one in my year at school that goes to Mass I think. I don’t see anyone else there. I wear a Scapular but I hide it sometimes. No one is really mean about it. But it gets me attention I don’t want because the other students know what it means to be Catholic. They ask me if I am against abortion. Do I think gays should not be allowed to marry? Once
In the last few years were very difficult. I know that it is not possible to say abortion is ok. But I know people in my class that have had abortions. And they are young. And I understand why but I know it isn’t right. But what can I say? If I say I am against abortion everyone says ‘what about rape or incest?’ I know the answers but they don’t just come out.
And the referendums made everyone very aware of all these subjects. All the people around me supported Yes for everything. Some were angry when I said I would vote no. They don’t care why I would vote no. They just don’t want me to vote no. They get so angry. One girl, who likes other girls, shouted at me: ‘what about my right to get married?’
And they all say ‘my body, my choice’. Nothing else matters now.
I am glad I am finished in Secondary School. I hope I go to college. Maybe there I will meet some other people who share the faith. It is hard when you are young. To hold on the faith. I feel like life would be easier if I did not have it. I could fit in more easily. I wouldn’t be on the outside.
But I am not on the outside too much. I have friends. I am not a reject. But I am not me. The friends don’t really see all of me. They just see the side of me that I let them. The side that says I don’t mind. I laugh along with the talk. When I hear someone taking the name of Our Lord in vain, I feel bad. It hurts me. And I apologise in my heart. But I don’t say anything.
I think people will laugh. When I hear of my friends taking drugs, I don’t say anything. I don’t say anything when people talk with bad language. Or when they make jokes about pervert priests. I know I should say something. But it is what young people believe now.
In school we didn’t learn anything about the Catholic church. Nothing really. We did religious studies and I think I know more about Hindus than I do about Catholics. But probably I don’t because all I learn about Catholics is not really much and not really what I learn at home. So I know how little my friends know because all they learn is in the school and everything else is on the internet from the news that only tells one side of the story. And even that side of the story is not really honest too.
It is easier to fit in if I hide my faith under a bushel. I see already how people think any opinion I have is ‘because of religion’ and that I am dismissed. I hope when I get to university it will be better. I want to be me. But I don’t want to be me.
The Brown Scapular
I wear a Brown Scapular every day. In the year 1251, in the town of Aylesford in England, Our Lady appeared to St. Simon Stock, a Carmelite. She handed him a brown woollen scapular and said, “This shall be a privilege for you and all Carmelites, that anyone dying in this habit shall not suffer eternal fire.” I wear the scapular inside my clothes. It is soft and warm and it is my way of carrying my faith with me. We are told by simply wearing the Scapular, we can tell Our Lady every moment of the day that we venerate her, love her and trust in her protection. The Carmelites website tells us that ‘the scapular must be 100% wool without a plastic casing and should not be pinned to clothing. It is worn over the head, under one’s clothes, with one square of wool hanging on the chest and the other on the back. Pictures are not necessary’. I recommend that everyone wears one!
The Problem of Pain
I hurt my foot. That is physical pain. When I have to hid my faith, I feel pain inside also. Everyone suffers from what I can see. In some form or other. I know it is not a new question. But why does God allow suffering? I don’t have the answer but I read the small book by C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain. I didn’t find the answer in the book but one thing right at the end that made some sense is that suffering offers the opportunity for heroism. It does not explain it for me but there is something right about it.