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Event #4 - Confirmation 
My Confirmation was the final stage to complete before I entered adulthood in the eyes of the church. After I went through my Confirmation, I would no longer have to go to CCD which I couldn't be happier about. But the only downside was that on top of attending the religious education classes, I now had to write an essay every week that I would turn in at Sunday mass. Every week at the end of mass, all of the students who were going through the process of being confirmed would walk up to the front of the church in front of the entire parish and would be given a red envelope by the priest that contained our assignment for the week. 

I would of course always wait to the last second to write my essay with help from my parents. From the beginning, I did not like this at all. I was not learning anything from it and I felt like it was tedious work. At the end of the school year in May after writing about 35 essays, I finally was confirmed and received the Holy Spirit. I was so relieved to be done with all the work and classes. I barely even recognized the fact that something life changing had happened to me in church earlier that day. 

After my Confirmation back in 2009, my family and I stopped going to church altogether. Things got in the way and we no longer made going to church on Sundays a priority. After we stopped attending church, I never felt a change within me that would indicate me loosing the Holy Spirit or God's love for me. I even felt better after my family stopped going to church because I think our specific church created a negative environment. I left mass every Sunday feeling guilty and ashamed for how I was living my life just by the way my priest talked in his sermon. I should have left feeling good, at peace, loved but I sadly never felt that way. 


Event #5 - First time back at church

Flash forward to 4 years later in 2012.  Since my Confirmation and no longer attending church, I returned to church but this time it was a non-demoninational church. 

During those 4 years of not going to church, I came to a realization that the Catholic Church was not the right fit for me and I no longer affiliated myself with Roman Catholicism. I also discovered how much I didn't like the idea of organized religion. I found the Catholic Church to be too traditional for my liking and I no longer agreed with their beliefs.  I thought that everything I was taught throughout the years by the Catholic Church was forced down my throat. It was either their way or the highway. I didn't necessarily feel this way from my parents but by my other family members and my church. 

My parents were the type to raise their children in the faith and religion that they were raised in but then to allow their children to pick their own faith and religion once they were confirmed. And after my confirmation, my parents, brother, and I all drifted away from our church and to an extent for some of us, our religion. 

During this time, I also battled with constantly questioning and doubting my faith.  But I returned to church. During that mass, I realized that I was missing something in my life. The pastor was telling me that it was God but I always believed that I never lost God. He never left my side. I've continued to have a relationship with him throughout the years, it just hasn't been through my presence in church on Sunday mornings. 

I've yet to discover what that "missing part" in my life is and whether or not it even exists outside of the pastor's sermon. I have become a more spiritual person over the years and l let that speak as my faith and belief. My story of "religion" has many volumes to it and I am still writing more as I grow and mature. Stay tuned, who knows where I'll be in ten years in my faith. 

-- KT
 
I last left you off by introducing you to "my story of religion." I narrowed down the last 18 years of my life into 5 events or so-called stages. So here they are...

Event #1 - my religious education classes (otherwise known to me as CCD)
I started attending these hour and a half long classes every Monday night at 6 o' clock when I entered 1st grade. I never had a choice in whether I wanted to go or not. It was the norm for all of the children that belonged to my church.  My parents followed suit and placed my brother and I in these classes. Enrollment in these classes were required to be able to receive the sacraments of Reconciliation, Eucharist, and Confirmation. 

I absolutely hated going to these classes. The teachers were mean and took a very forceful teaching approach in sharing the stories from the Bible. The kids that were in my class were never friendly towards me which made me feel uncomfortable and lonely. I would beg my mom to let me skip but that happened almost never. 

These classes that were suppose to educate me on my religion were ultimately the first strike in what started to turn me off towards religion as a whole. 


Event #2 - Reconciliation 
To my knowledge on what Reconciliation is, you go on Saturday mornings to church and tell the priest your sins. He then will give you some sort of penance which is usually in the form of prayer. After that, you're done. 

I had to go to Reconciliation before I made my first Holy Communion and it was an interesting experience. I first had to learn what sins were before I could be forgiven for them. I was told that they were the bad things you do. (I was 9 at the time so that's how I understood it, and still do)

I began to question how telling a priest all my sins and me saying prayers would make everything better in the eyes of God. And my so-called sins ranged from not listening to my parents to being mean to my brother. These were considered sins and as I learned in CCD (more like scared into thinking) if I were to die without confessing these sins, I was going to Hell.  Even at a young age, I thought that was absurd. 


Event #3 - First Holy Communion
My first Holy Communion was the day I received the eucharist (also known as the body of Christ) for the first time. 
I remember getting all dressed up for the occasion. My aunt bought me a white dress and I went all out with a veil and brand new shoes with a slight heel in them, gasp! (Being 9 years old and wearing "heels" was a big deal for me, even bigger than receiving the eucharist for the first time.) 

I remember standing in line waiting to receive the eucharist feeling like such a grown up. At this point in time, I felt like I became more a part of my church now that I was able to go stand in line for communion at every mass. You could say that I felt a little more connected to my religion after my First Holy Communion. 

** The party and money that I was given after my First Holy Communion were all a bonus, but a pretty awesome bonus. 
 
I was born and raised in the Roman Catholic Church.  Every Sunday morning, my mom would come into mine and my brother's room and would wake us up with our church clothes in her hands. Going to church was a routine for my family. 
My church was part of my life since I was a baby. I was baptized there. I attended religious education classes there every Monday night at 6 o'clock (despite my constant protesting that I developed as I grew into a defiant tween). I received the sacraments of Reconciliation, Holy Eucharist, and my Confirmation from that church.  As I grew up, I started to dread going to church. Something that I knew shouldn't be happening. A million and one questions and doubts began to fill my head. Everything that I had learned, done for the past 10 years, and knew about my religion became clouded. In spite of my feeling of being unsure, I continued to go to church. Not because I necessarily wanted to but because of my parents. My parents taught me the religion they were raised in. I never felt like they ever tried to teach me about other religions. It was Roman Catholicism, and that was that. 

My first memory about religion took place during the holiday season. I don't know how old I was but I remember watching my mom decorate our house with Christmas decorations while playing Christmas music. She brought up this big box from our basement that held all of our ornaments. Within this box, there was another large box. It looked like it had been through a lot of wear and tear. She opened the box and picked up the wooden Nativity set that lay inside. She placed the stable on the skirt right in the front of our tree. My mom then got out the figurines that were individually wrapped in tissue paper. She set out Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus that lay in the manger. I remember thinking to myself, "Why is my mommy playing with dolls?" She explained what it all was and why this time of the year was so special. 

I grew up learning about Jesus and how he died for my sins. Christmas, Easter, and every Sunday mass were all important occasions to my family. I felt like I always just "went along with it all."

Anything that is a part of my life is there for a reason. Whether it is my family, friends, hobbies/interests, dreams... they are all in my life for a reason. I embrace them all and show compassion towards each one of them. I said earlier that my church was a part of my life since I could remember. But my church and religion were always 2 things that existed in my  life, I just don't think I existed in them. I never felt a strong pull to be there or if I even belonged there at all. I never became compassionate about my church or religion. 

I continued going to church and tried to grow in my faith, but the connection just wasn't there. After much thought, I would have to say that there are 5 events in my life that have shaped my story of religion. And those would be...      


(Until next time, stay tuned)

-- KT

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