In his own words, Justin shares the story of his faith journey and relationship with the Catholic Church.
I attended Catholic school as long as I can remember, for all the way back to preschool, all the way up through my senior year High School. I lived out the full Catholic life, I received sacraments, went to Mass regularly, early every Sunday and sometimes more. But all the time going through the motions, it was something very rigid and structured.
My connection with the church today, I would say is generally pretty strong, on a scale 1 to 10, I’d put it at a 8. I wouldn’t put myself higher just because I know there’s always ways I can become more involved, more connected, more ways deem my face and those are things I’m always pursuing.
My faith growing up was not my own, it was not my own experience, it was something that I think I believed it to be was true because I was told it was true. I love my faith, I loved everything about it, I had no reason to question, no reason to think there was anything more or discover from it. And I remember this one time, it was my senior year High School, and we um had a class confession. You know where everybody had an opportunity to go to confession and everybody that wanted to confession.
I was sitting there with my best-friend, and I was about to go down and receive the sacrament myself, and said, “You ready?”
He said, “I’m not going.”
I had this moment, “What’d you mean you’re not?”
He said, “I’m not Catholic.”
And it was like, that’s when it hit me, like it’s something that we can choose for ourselves, it’s something we can believe in or not believe in it.
As I went out to college, you know, one by one, my friends kind of started to drop out of faith. I was ready to go to mass and I invited to go with me and they said, “Oh we’re not going,” casually like it’s no big deal. And for me that started shattering this illusion I had of faith. For the first time in my life, it was a choice it’s something I decided on my own, something that I wanted to believe in. Something I wanted to define myself by. I think that’s what started me on the road to a deeper faith a true Catholic faith.
Growing up for me, my relationship with Christ was a textbook relationship, it was somebody that I believe to live 2000 years ago, it was somebody that you know I believe that to be this amazing person, this miracle worker. That’s all it was, a historical figure.
To find out later, it’s somebody who is very real, someone that was alive. Somebody I can have a relationship I can talk to and have as a friend. You know that is something that was mind blowing and I wish I had that earlier.
Catholicism often taught as the truth, which we believe, but to shove that off on to somebody, who doesn’t want to be told what the truth is, can be off-putting. And I think a lot of Catholics are the reason why, why Catholics leave the church. And that’s sad, but it’s that disconnect where we tell them Catholicism is what is right, but rather we need to show them, we need to show them through relationship. To show them that what relationship is, to show them the root of that relationship that love from Christ and they can draw their own conclusion. Let them be drawn onto that love and trust the Jesus the rest of the way.