Catholic students face unique challenges

As a Catholic, I am part of a minority group surrounded by the vast sea of those who grew up in the Reformed tradition.

There’s really nothing bad about this, but when I first started going here, there were a few things that were difficult to grasp and get used to.

I’m used to the Catholic way of doing things and the many beliefs that we have, so being plopped into the ways of the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) was… interesting and quite funny at times.

Here are just a few things that I (and perhaps other Catholic or non-CRC students in this school) have struggled with.

First, the sign of the cross, or, should I say, the lack thereof. Before and after every prayer and mass service, Catholics do the sign of the cross; it really took me a while to get used to not doing so. For the first couple of weeks, I had to restrain myself from doing the sign of the cross after prayers.

“And forgive us our tres… debts…” (The Lord’s Prayer). I grew up saying this prayer with the words “trespasses” and “those who trespass against us” as opposed to “debts” and “our debtors.” When I first came to the school, I didn’t know there was this difference. I saw the prayer, thought I knew it, but once we started saying it, I found out that I had thought wrongly.

Next, having a Pastor Mary. Don’t get me wrong, I think Pastor Mary’s a wonderful human being and gives beautiful sermons; however, I was used to only seeing male presiders growing up.

And finally, explaining Purgatory. It’s not an easy concept to explain and it’s not an easy concept to understand, so I’m not even going to try.

Here, however, is the gist of it: Catholics believe that even though God has pardoned one’s sins, this does not mean one is entirely free of one’s faults; therefore, one is given a “cleansing” time in Purgatory.

There are several other things, of course, but these are a few that I have personally struggled to get used to and/or explain. Now, I’m not saying either way is more correct, but I’m simply expressing how different they are.

After going through high school in a Catholic school, it never crossed my mind how much I would actually struggle going to a school where I am surrounded by people who aren’t Catholic.

I actually never knew how many differences the two faiths have. It’s been an eye-opening experience that I find interesting and that I’m hoping to learn from.

I will probably still struggle with these things (and plenty of others), but hopefully not as much as I did during the beginning of the year.