Throughout my high school career, I have taken four religion classes. I have spent four hundred periods sitting in classrooms listening to teachers attempt to strengthen my faith and relationship with God through textbook readings, lectures, and inspirational movies. Despite their best efforts, I can safely say that I have learned close to nothing useful to my relationship with God. In fact, the only experiences that have brought me closer to God are volunteer and mass experiences that I have sought out. For this reason, I believe that faith is something that must be pursued individually and cannot be taught in a classroom.
My faith journey has centered around my experiences at my parish, St. Thomas More. I joined a musical ministry group in my freshman year. I was in a group with seven other adults volunteering to bring music to the liturgy. I remember the first mass I cantored in. I was nervous, sweating as I looked over the lines I was about to sing, but, as quiet came over the congregation, I felt a sudden calm come over me. “The Lord is my life and my salvation. Of whom should I be afraid?” I sang. In that song of praise and worship, I felt the peace of Christ. I have never felt that in a religion class. As much as I liked some of my religion teachers personally, I did not gain any benefit in my faith life.
I know that my faith is not done developing and my experience might be atypical. Perhaps all of my other classmates had revelations during their religion terminology tests, but I firmly believe in the importance of individual journeys of faith. Everyone must find, or fail to find, God for himself. Only through the struggles of everyday life can true belief even be approached.
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