WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA)-- In light of Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Washington, 9NEWS NOW asked Washington's young Catholics about their faith. They describe how Catholicism has influenced their daily lives. Below are their responses:
Hometown: Bethesda, MD
Class of 2010
"Catholicism is part of my daily life, but does not influence me as it does others. I don't listen to Christian music or attend Sunday mass every Sunday. I don't pray everyday or base my decisions on faith. However, in some way it is still a part of me.
I was born Catholic and baptized a few months later. At that point I was given a gold cross that I wear everyday. It's not a typical cross. It looks more like a four leaf clover. However, it has meaning to me. It symbolizes my family and how close we are. Without it, I feel naked. On the same necklace I wear a medallion of the Madonna. The medallion was passed down to me from my grandmother. When she was close to passing away I decided to wear it to feel closer to her.
At home we have symbols of Catholicism. We have a cross by the window, along with candles, and saints. On some Palm Sundays we have put palm crosses on the window as traditions."
Hometown: Tampa, FL
Major: Public Relations
Graduate Student, Class of 2010
"Home is where the heart is. What if you have no home though? Where does your heart go? I have never lived in a place longer than three years due to my father's job in the military. My life was spent always being the new kid in school and then saying goodbye to the home I had just adapted to. Being able to travel definitely was amazing and I cherish it always, but it came with difficulties. In this lifestyle, my Catholic faith has given me a solid foundation. Besides my family, it has always remained the constant in my life. No matter where we were, mass was the place that did not change. It gives us the strength we need. Mass became home.
Whenever I feel like something is insurmountable, I remember my faith. I let go, and just be. I become unafraid. Being the new kid is no longer scary. Nothing is intimidating. Whenever I feel happy, I remember my faith and am thankful. It is a peace that simply cannot be taken away.
My dad has since retired and I am living on my own now. Although I am away from my family, it is not frightening. Home is where the heart is. My heart is in God."
Hometown: Joliet, IL
Catholic University of America
Major: Theology and Religious Studies
Class of 2008
"Before arriving at Catholic University, my faith was fairly important but mostly just on Sunday when I went to mass. But, after being formed in a Catholic environment for four years, my faith has become the center of my life. As a convert to Catholicism, I struggled to understand or accept many of the Church's traditions, but as I learned more about them I learned to embrace my Catholic faith. It is the spiritual life on campus that has formed me.
Now, I meet my friends at the Law School chapel for mass before we grab lunch in the Pryz (where Benedict will speak on Thursday!). We gather each week to discuss the Sunday reading to prepare for Mass. We pray before meals. We are friends with priests and nuns who support us in our faith. Basically, the spiritual life on campus is vibrant and the coming of the Holy Father bring us great hope and excitement. As I sat down in our dining room last night [April 7, 2008] to discuss the Pope's encyclical Spe salvi with a group of friends, it hit me that this Christian hope is real."
Hometown: Jackson, MS
Catholic University of America
Class of 2010
"Catholicism influences my life in several different ways. It has a great impact upon my personal life because one: I am a student minister and am called to be the presence of Christ to my residents and peers, and two: I am a young Catholic raised in the teachings of the Church and am called to the life of a Christian. To be a good Christian, the Catholic Church teaches a set of standards and morals that are to be practiced and preserved in our daily lives.
Specifically speaking, daily Mass and participation in the Sacraments are Catholic Traditions that are very important to me. I am continuously striving to improve my daily prayer while dealing with the many distractions that life has to offer. I am by no means the perfect Catholic and will never be confused with a saint, but I try to do my part and help those that I encounter in any way with the intention of offering my deeds to God."
Marc Toan McCarthy
Hometown: Potomac, MD
University of Maryland, College Park
Major: Romance Languages and International Business
Class of 2009
"Catholicism has a very profound influence on my daily living. Essentially, Catholicism is a way of life centered on growing in a relationship with Jesus. Jesus has taken the initiative in this relationship by becoming man, suffering, and dying for love of me. Thus, every day consists of my responses -- both good and bad -- to Jesus' initial love, to know him better, to love him better, and ultimately, grow closer to him. But what does this mean to me, a senior at the University of Maryland, College Park studying French, Spanish, and International Business? It means daily goals and resolutions, as guided by my religion.
Let us look at some of these goals and what I have done today, a typical weekday. Each day I plan to read about God to get to know him better. Today [April 8, 2008], I have read some of the New Testament and part of a book by Henri de Lubac about atheist humanism and Christianity (it is good contrast to the readings from my Spanish literature class). Each day I plan to study in order to do my duties as a student well. Today, I annotated a full chapter for my Business Law exam next Monday. Each day I plan to set aside at least fifteen minutes for prayer, in silence, as any loving couple might talk with each other daily. Today, I have not done this prayer yet. And the list goes on until the end of each day, when I make resolutions for the following day: Tomorrow, I will fight the urge to procrastinate and do the fifteen minutes of prayer punctually. Thus, in spite of any of my failures, Catholicism gives me the means to live daily life to the fullest, happily, always progressing, and always growing in love for God and neighbor."
Hometown: Mission Viejo, CA
Major: Communications: Broadcasting
Class of 2008
"The Catholic Church has experienced many hardships over the past thirty years. Just recently, it was reported by the editor of the Vatican's Statistical Yearbook that Muslims outnumber Catholics worldwide. An article by the L'Osservatore Romano says that Catholics have about 1.115 billion members, while Muslims have 1.322 billion members. In the United States, some argue that the Vatican should be to blame for the decline of the Church because of all the changes the Vatican has attempted to implement, according to David Carlin's book The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America.
I would also argue that the news of alleged sexual abuse cases made against the Roman Catholic Church has also caused a decline in the U.S. I feel that the Pope coming to the U.S. is a great way to energize the Catholic religion, but it will take time. Personally, I feel I have a strong connection with my faith. In fact, before I go to bed I give the sign of the cross, and thank God for all the opportunities he has given me. My parents have taught me that with faith you can achieve anything. I am a strong believer of the Catholic religion because it allows me to have a strong connection with God."
Written & compiled by: Elizabeth Jia