Pentecost is not a fiction story, it’s our beautiful reality

The year before I was confirmed I was taking regular 10th grade religious education classes at my home parish every other week. One Sunday night we took out our books and distractedly read a chapter in it as a class. Looking back on my Catholic education classes I probably should’ve paid more attention, but that’s beside the point. All of a sudden the religious education directors walked through the door looking very distraught and said, “Class, I’m really sorry, but we’re not able to continue religious education classes anymore.”

A surprised murmur of voices filled the air.

“The United States government has repealed religious freedom and are forcing us to stop educating the youth on any particular religion. All churches will be state owned from here on out, and we could be facing major consequences even being here right now. If you could please follow me down stairs… we’re going to be talking with the rest of the classes about this as a group.”

Looking back, I was probably very gullible for believing that what they were saying was true, but it was very convincing. Even though at this point in my life I approached my religion very half-heartedly, I was still really interested in learning about it, and I wanted more than anything to be confirmed.

I didn’t really know what it meant to be confirmed, but all I knew was that I would be receiving a new sacrament and the gifts of the Holy Spirit would be stirred up within me. I wanted very sincerely to know all about what that meant, but now it looked like I wasn’t going to be able to receive a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit like I always thought I was. I was very upset and it just didn’t seem right.

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3 things Vermont taught me

Confidence in My Faith

I’ve grown up in Massachusetts my whole life, which happens to be a very liberal and irreligious state, so going to Vermont, the granola republic of America, didn’t seem like that big of a change for me. As it turns out, Vermont is the least religious state in the U.S., with only 22% of its population responding “very religious” in a major survey. Also, Burlington is tied with Boulder, Colorado as the least religious city in the country. However, I don’t need to be in a religious environment in order to still practice my faith.

My point is that although I didn’t experience much “culture shock” by living there, living on my own as a Catholic woman attracted a lot of direct and indirect opposition. It was an overall very positive experience though. I learned how to stand up for what I believed in and really understood what it means for the faith to “become my own.” Being independent brought me a lot of joy. I sought out retreats, bible studies, and liturgy groups; I even got to lead a few discussions with the community about scripture, Advent, Lent, and the Eucharist! I took every opportunity that I could. Still, in these moments though, I realized I was missing something: fellowship.

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