“Oh but why do you pray to Mary? Christians can only worship God. That’s why Catholics aren’t Christians.”
“Catholic pastors can’t get married?!?!?”
*anyhow moves hand around forehead/chest/shoulder area to mimic the sign of the cross*
“Is it like in the movies when the people go inside a box and confess their sins while the priest sits behind a curtain?”
“Do you believe in Jesus also? How about the Holy Spirit? And do you read the Bible?”
“LOL you’re gonna have so many kids cos you can’t use condoms”
If I had a dollar for every time someone said one of those things to me… I would be Beyoncé. But instead I’m writing this article, so let me get back on topic. Being a Catholic in a Methodist school has definitely been an interesting experience for me – one that has ultimately taught me to appreciate my faith with deeper understanding and awareness.
Since Catholics and Methodists both fall under the big umbrella of Christianity, Methodists understand a large amount of the Catholic faith (the part that overlaps with theirs, a.k.a. the part that is common to all Christians regardless of denomination). Though disagreements don’t happen that often, when they do, this allows them to nitpick at very particular aspects of the Catholic Church, such as adoration of saints, purgatory, and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, just to name a few – in other words, just the bits that they don’t understand or agree with. This is something that always proved extremely frustrating for me, because I always felt that my friends of totally different religions never underwent this kind of unnecessary scrutiny from their Christian counterparts. The worst part was that very often, I didn’t even know how to answer some questions my friends would ask about Catholicism!
In the end, though, all of that turned out to be a blessing in disguise (: Religious discussion or debate is not uncommon in a Christian institution full of bright and opinionated minds, especially given the fact that ACSians love to talk! Being questioned now and then about my beliefs has in fact strengthened them because it taught me to stop taking everything for granted. Before, I never actually had anyone ask me why I make the sign of the cross before praying, and I had never read up much about the true meaning of purgatory because I used to accepting what I learned in Catechism class unquestioningly.
Soon, I came to appreciate my faith on a much deeper and more intellectual level for its intricacies and subtle distinctions (like synchronized mass readings all around the world, and Eucharistic Adoration!), while at the same time learning to value God instead of doctrinal discrepancies. I actually kind of became my HL Lit class’ resident Catholic consultant when we studied A Portrait of the Artist as A Young Man by James Joyce, because it was a piece of Irish literature that had heavy Catholic themes. All of a sudden I found myself swinging my water bottle around trying to explain how the incense works in church, or reciting the Hail Mary in the middle of class to explain references in the novel –that was pretty fun HAHA.
On the whole, being a Catholic in ACS(I) is great! There’s chapel every Monday, devotions and prayer every morning, and you’re surrounded by students and even staff that share your faith in the same God! Keep making the sign of the cross before and after prayers! Hang a mini-rosary on your exam pencil case! Explain as many times as it takes to your friends that omg yes Catholics are Christians tooooo! Take pride in your faith, and never stop thanking God for placing you in a school like AC (:
Bernadette Yeo is from the graduating batch of 2014.