I overheard a young man spouting hate-filled things about religion. He was raised Catholic and his parents by all appearances were very devout. I think that's what rattled me the most. Where did all that hatred come from?
But maybe it wasn't hatred. Maybe it's anger or even jealousy. Maybe his own life and the choices he made had to be blamed on something and his parents' life and faith made a glaring contrast.
Before I was Catholic, I didn't hate the Church. I didn't hate religion. It was just something I wasn't interested in. I had gone to different churches as a kid and found other denominations more focused on the negatives then the positives of their faith. When I think about it now, it seems so strange, but at the time I would accept it.
In my early 20's I watched from the sidelines a profound witness of faith. I knew a couple who had been dating a long time. She was Catholic, he was not. They didn't live together and they had no intentions of getting married. This was considered very cool in the early 70's. His parents were frustrated by the relationship. They were religious people and this was their only son. They had endured much during World War II. What they suffered was a testament to their faith and their life now. They wanted the family name to continue and it didn't seem like that was going to happen.
Then one day my friend told me they were going to go to counseling because she still didn't want to get married and now her boyfriend did! His parents' pressure was starting to get to him. Of course all of our friends were appalled! How dare these parents interfere!
During the sessions my friend came to a realization. It wasn't marriage she was shunning. It was her fear of divorce and abandonment. Her mother left when she was barely a teen. There were six younger siblings, the youngest was three! My friend took over the household and parenting duties until her father remarried many years later. The stepmother and my friend had a rocky relationship in the beginning, but as the years went on, they developed a close and loving relationship.
My friends got married. It was probably one of the few weddings I attended where I had the gut feeling that they were going to make it. And they did. They worked out their differences in faith and after many years of trying and one of them nearly dying, they had a son. I haven't seen them in a long time, but I know they are okay.
My friend came to visit me when I had one of the boys and we talked about our common faith. She was pregnant and glowing. And she was filled with the love of God which she eagerly shared with me. It was wonderful to hear her and her husband's journey of faith and marriage.
When I think about it now, this couple used the tools of their faiths to stay together and build their family. I don't know many from that era that are still married. Religion was viewed as an afterthought. You got married in the family church to appease your parents and you didn't set foot in it again until the first child was baptised. Not much has changed. It's so sad.
Faith gives us tools to help us in life. It is our comfort in times of trial and sorrow. It is our strength when we can't stand alone. It is where we go when there's no place else to go. It is the rules we follow to help and guide each other. It is the best of us and why we were made.