California Catholic Daily reporter, Mary Rose, visits a California college each week and asks students about God, good, and evil. Interview with Thalia, who is studying nursing, outside Goleman Library at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton on March 11, 2020.
Do you consider yourself religious?
Thalia: No. I don’t like religion. I’m spiritual, but I’m not religious. I don’t follow a religion. I believe in God and I pray, but I don’t believe in the way they have, because their belief system is not the way I would believe it. My parents already questioned it slightly because my mom’s like, “your kid’s not going to turn into a donkey if you don’t baptize them.” And I’m like, “yeah, they believe that.” Because a lot of people still believe that you need to bless your child because they are born of sin. And so I’m like, “no, I don’t believe in that.” And so I just have my own belief system. I pick apart what I believe in.
How do you decide what’s true?
Thalia: I think it’s kind of just based on my morals, but I’m not sure. I don’t really know. I just kind of go with it.
Where do your morals come from?
Thalia: My parents. Some of them come from my parents or what I’ve seen, because then you see things on the news, and you’re like, “that’s not morally right.” Or you feel indifferent towards it, but you don’t understand why, but then you find out that for your morals that that’s not right. It goes with the flow for me. If I see something and I feel like it’s wrong, then that becomes part of my morals going forward. As you can tell, I’m really a go with the flow person.
Do your morals depend on what other people think?
Thalia: Not really, because I find that sometimes my morals don’t match society and I’m like, “Oh no.” Or my friends differ from my own opinions. So I always try to assert my opinions, but I’m like, “they’re not going to go with it.”
Why do you wear a crucifix?
Thalia: It’s part of how I connect with God. A lot of people see my crucifix and think of a certain religion and put that on me and ask me. I was once on a bus and they were like, “Oh, so you’re Catholic.” And I was like, “what?” And the whole time he just dug at me and kept saying things to me. And I’m like, “I don’t even know what you’re talking about. I’m not Catholic.” It’s really just like a journey that you take, it’s just something that represents something for me and connects me with something that is higher than me. And so I try my best to connect with him.
You were raised Catholic?
Thalia: Yeah, but they weren’t very strongly Catholic. They never forced us, but it was kind of just always there. When I was younger I questioned it because I was in a dark place. I was like, “why would He be allowing me to have this to happen?” But it’s kind of just finding your own personal connection to Him. And why.
If someone asked you who Jesus is, what would you say?
Thalia: I would say the son of God, because that’s a lot of the teachings that there are. I don’t know. I feel like people get mixed up sometimes because “our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” but they also call God their Lord. So it’s like, what’s going on? I’m confused now.
If someone asked you why you believe in God, what would you say?
Thalia: There’s things that happened in my life that showed that Someone was there. Something led me there. I believe there’s a higher power and it doesn’t have to be God. That’s another thing that my parents don’t like is that I love religion. I love it. I’m not going to practice because I can’t conform to one, but I have researched a lot of religions. I’m just open to it.
What are some of the moral teachings of the Catholic Church that you feel like you can’t conform to?
Thalia: Divorce. If somebody doesn’t want to be with somebody, then that should be their choice. Or a lot of people say you go to hell if you commit suicide. And for me, I’ve had a couple close people commit suicide. So I’m like, “why would you wish that upon somebody?” Because l when I attempted suicide, before that I talked to them about my friend passing away and they’re like, “that’s cowardice, that’s selfish, no one should ever do that. That’s horrible.” I just sat there and listened and I’m like, “okay, that’s nice to know that’s how you think.” That’s some of the morals that I don’t appreciate.
Do you believe in an afterlife?
Thalia: Yeah, I believe in reincarnation. After my grandma died, which was a long time ago – she loved hummingbirds. There’d be times I would be walking home and – hummingbirds don’t really like people and I’ve never been close with nature either. So I was walking home and I wasn’t feeling good that day. I was not happy at all. And all of a sudden, a hummingbird just came next to me, near my shoulder and just kind of flew next to me the whole time I was walking home. It’s either just like, you want to believe it’s them. Or for me, it’s just hope that one day you do reincarnate and you’re there for your loved ones. It’s just a lot of hope that goes on with religion or like spirituality because you hope for that to happen. You hope that by following a religion, you’ll get to a good afterlife. People follow religion because they think by following it, you go to heaven.
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This is a profoundly depressing microcosm of the fruits of our culture and modern Catholicism.
The truth of your statement is all that we need on this subject.
And parents who just don’t share our wonderful Catholic faith with their children.
Cry for the future of this country. How does someone so inarticulate graduate from high school? She votes, remember. Literally does not have a clue about religion.
Why are so many of these confused people former Catholics?
Being spiritual but not religious is like having male anatomy but not being a male, because you don’t believe all that stuff and just do what you want and what you believe yourself. It’s as absurd as transgenderism.
Don’t blame Thalia. She grew up with parents who degraded religious belief and practice, not only Catholicism. You might fairly ask: But she’s an adult now. Shouldn’t she critically examine and evaluate her parents’ views? Of course she should.
But it’s not that easy. First, when your parents provided every essential for you since birth, you tend to respect their opinions in important matters or at least use those opinions as a default starting point in considering whether to depart from them. But if you do decide you need more than your parents’ sterile offering provided, where do go for guidance and wisdom about what else is offered?
Forget parish catechetical programs. For about 50 years they have been almost entire devoid of content. But if you’re satisfied with balloons and felt banners hung in churches, touchy-feely “sharing” or “self-esteem” sessions, insufficiently catechized DREs peddling their own version of Catholic doctrine irrespective of conformity to Catholicism, resolute resistance to “memorization” such that First Holy Communicants can barely get through the “Our Father” and cannot recite from memory any other prayers—there are thousands of such DREs waiting to “guide” you. Probably no priest will dare oversee, much less question, their presentation of a Faith without substance.
From what I see, that’s where we are. Catechesis will not go back to basics. That’s a return to the old-fashioned. Can’t have that. It’s not “hip”.
The Scriptures bewailed those “who sold their heritage for a mess of pottage”. Not us. We’ve abandoned the heritage of the young and of potential converts by selling them an empty and slick “pot of message”. God forgive us for it.
Please direct me to where I can find a church with balloons and felt banners. Trads say that all the time about parishes, as if you can go to any corner parish and see balloons and felt banners in the church.
To Anonymous, 8 March @ 3:19pm
One challenge deserves another.
Please direct me to a website/blog where “[t]rads (I am not one) say that all the time about parishes . . .”.
There’s nothing wrong with balloons and banners, provided there’s a lot more than that to catechesis. Try addressing the real question: In the last 40 to 50 years, do you think parishes offered solid faith formation? If you think so, you’re not looking at the numbers. They tell a much different story.
Sorry, you don’t get to weasel out of it by redirecting. You made the claim. You started it. So either take back your words or tell me where you can find those things in a church. Maybe next time you’ll actually think before posting cliches that make you feel good to type but have no basis in reality.
Again, Anonymous, you strain out the gnat but swallow the camel. Your latching onto balloons and felt banners is a back page story. The Page One story is the all too apparent failure of catechesis as practiced for years. Your comments never address that question. Why not try to figure out why catechesis [or the absence of it] has led to the dismal results reported even by Catholic sources? Why continue to trivialize an important matter by repeating a juvenile, “gotcha” challenge. Try actual thinking and analysis instead of turning an important question into a kindergarten fight.
Good point! I’ve seen those things, but that was back in the 1980s. I still see Religious Education books for children and young people that are all about topics like “Free to Be, You and Me”. I’ve also seen a lot of parents who drop their children off for “Catechism”, but don’t go to Mass unless they can get palms or ashes.
Stop infighting and help this young person. It has never been made clear to us whether Mary Rose instructs the people she interviews or just leaves them in ignorance then puts a story on CCD for them to be criticized and jeered at.
It is every Catholic’s moral responsibility to instruct the ignorant.
There is a lot to do on this story.
Original sin, baptism, mortal sin, suicide, Death , Judgement, Heaven, Hell, spirituality, religion, the Crucifix.
The Lord has her in the palm of his hand. He wants you to help her.
Anonymous 3 Mar 2021 @ 1:42 am
Wow! What a clarion call to action! Your preaching is forceful—and aimed at others. What have YOU done? Go first, then preach to others.
The right hand is not supposed to know what the left hand is doing.
We are to keep our deeds of mercy secret.
I am a servant of no worth. I have only done what I should have-maybe less.
Your children will not turn into donkeys if you don’t baptize them. If you do have them baptized, all sins and all punishments for sins are forgiven.
Baptism will make them a child of God, a member of Christ’s body, a co-heir, a temple of the Holy Spirit.
It is the greatest and most necessary spiritual help available to people.
Baptism cannot be undone. It is an indelible seal on their soul.
Baptism gives sanctifying grace and enables the baptized to believe in God, to hope in him, and to love him through the theological virtues;
– giving them the power to live and act under the prompting of the Holy Spirit through the gifts of the Holy Spirit;
– allowing them to grow in goodness through the moral virtues.
Thus the whole organism of the Christian’s supernatural life has its roots in Baptism.
If grace is lost through mortal sin, it can be restored by the sacrament of reconciliation.
Holy water is used to bless. It is also used to baptize. But baptism is not a blessing. It is a sacrament.
Holy water can only be blessed by a priest and there is a specific ritual that must be followed.
Some uses of Holy Water are baptism, which is usually done by a priest but in an emergency (such as at the point of death) can be done with any water by any person even a non-baptized person.
At Eastertime, the priest will walk around and sprinkle the congregation with Holy Water as a reminder of baptism..
You bless yourself with Holy Water upon entering and leaving the sanctuary of a Catholic Church. You make the Sign of the Cross when using it. You can also use it outside of Mass.
You can bless objects with it and you can bless the sick with it.
Venial sins- sins which do not cause the loss of grace- are forgiven when you bless yourself with holy water.
In Catholic school I got systematic catechesis from the sisters, Mass, hymns, morality, bible. Our family went to Sunday Mass, prayed the rosary with the radio, watched Bishop Sheen on TV. More than just instruction, I had a whole Catholic ethos to form me. When I began to question (fides quarerens intellectum = faith seeking understanding) it led me back to faith. Spiritual life from the Sacraments, and Holy Bible were forming my soul. As pastor, I tried to give the same experience to families. I met with the youth every Sunday evening to answer their questions. I trained catechists on how to deliver the faith simply and effectively. The culture is strongly pulling the young from Jesus to selfishness.
I agree completely! The culture is based on “There are no right or wrong answers, only how you FEEL”.
It’s moral quicksand.
Original sin is a term used to refer to the tainted nature of human beings. It is a wound in our soul, actually a death of the soul. Just as genes are inherited and determine characteristics in a person, original sin is inherited. Every human being has it. It is a spiritual defect. It is the source of evil in man and in the world. Baptism removes it. But the inclination to sin remains.
I taught Catholic Church History and Doctrine in a Catholic High School in the 1980s. I looked at the proscribed text books and tossed them out. They were baby food when the 16 and 17 year olds needed good solid teaching. The principal was furious with me. But he was a drunk and I was a Priest so there wasn’t much he could do. Even with a good explanation of the Nicene Creed, a foundation in some Thomistic Philosophy and Doctrine based on an adult catechism a lot of the students stopped going to Mass after graduation. Some continued and I hear from them 35 years later. But if their parents are not part of the instruction the youngsters often just don’t think it’s important.
If you’d like to do something to reach college students for Christ and His Church, consider praying for and financially supporting the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, the Evangelical Catholic, St. Paul’s Outreach or others serving on college campuses.
Prayerfully check out focus.org, evangelicalcatholic.org and spo.org.
We can lament about the situation on the vast majority of college campuses or (and) we can do something about it.
Pray for Thalia and all on college campuses; students, faculty and staff.
Morality is based on the 10 Commandments. You can find them in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. Catholics don’t just obey the letter of the law but also the heart of the law.
This is a good example although not entirely complete:
Your soul-that spirit which animates your body and leaves the body at death- is made by God when you are conceived. Every soul is distinct. There is no reincarnation. No one who is here now was ever here before. No one is coming back after they die.
When you die, you will go to Heaven- a place of pure joy in the presence of God or Hell- a place of eternal suffering separate from God. Purgatory is a temporary state of suffering. It is a purification for those whose souls are not yet ready for heaven and who still have sins to expiate.
Thalia, you have my condolences on the loss of your friends. The teaching of the Catholic Church is that suicide is a grave sin. If it is done with full knowledge of that, full consent of the will it is a mortal sin and the person could go to hell. The hope of Catholics is always that in that split second between the act and its completion the person repented or that the person had less than full knowledge or had less than full consent. We always pray for God to have mercy on them.
I am glad that your attempt was unsuccessful. God has a plan for you. He is going to show up in your life in many ways-some so ordinary that you won’t even notice.