Why is worth wondering

Georgie Hunt

Villanova is an Augustinian university, and though the Villanova community is a blend of people from various religions and philosophies, we are predominantly Catholic. Most of us go to church, and even though I am entering my third year as a member of the Villanova community, I remain astounded by the remarkable attendance at all three masses on Sunday evenings.

Walking in late to realize that the Mass is standing room only, and very little room at that, is not frustrating or annoying; rather, I appreciate the sight of so many young men and women whose own decisions placed them in their pews, gathered under a ceiling vaulted toward heaven. Sunday evenings on campus are a rare beauty, and we, as Villanovans, should value them. At the same time, going to church should not be celebrated for the going in and of itself but for the sweet substance within our souls that got us to go.

Why do the young people of Villanova go to church every Sunday? Do we go because we have always gone? One day our parents dressed us up in khakis and navy-blue blazers with gold buttons or pink dresses with rosebuds and white lace ankle socks. They took us to this place with pretty windows where everyone sat in cool hard benches and was really quiet for about an hour. When the man in front said, “The Mass is over. Go in peace to love and serve the Lord,” we giggled inside our hearts because we knew it was time for donuts and play.

Has anything changed? Do we still giggle at the end of Mass, giddy because it is time for beer and foreplay? When we return to our rooms or apartments, do we change out of our Catholic suits and throw them in our closets, where, as the week goes on, they become buried under an ever-accumulating mound of soiled garments? Do we think we can retrieve them from the bottom, shake them out and put them back on next Sunday before we go to church again to clean our consciences of errors previously repented committed again?

Someone once told me she was Catholic but did not go to church, and I recall being dumbfounded that she did not recognize the irony in the fact that she had assumed a position and neglected her most essential duty. I feel as though I owe this girl an apology for mentally mocking her belief system. How can she consider herself Catholic if she does not go to church, but how many Catholics who go to church are so Catholic themselves? What does going to Mass have to do with it? Going does not make us good or better, and it does not define our beliefs. Going to Mass is not what we do one day a week to make us Catholic; it is where we go for an hour to celebrate what we do, how we live and why we live in such a way every day.

As Catholics, we have been taught the most important part of Mass is the blessing of the Eucharist. We are in the presence of the Body and Blood of Christ. This belief is essential to the Catholic mindset, but there is another part of Mass that is more important. “The Mass is ended. Go in peace to love and serve the Lord. Amen,” the priest says, and then it is time to go. This is the most important part – when we walk out the doors and enter the world.

It is not the going to Mass that makes us Catholics or makes us believers. It is the exiting. It is what we bring to the world by how we choose to live in it that authenticates our beliefs and makes them not regurgitations of priests and parents but conscious considerations mulled into convictions of our own. So what if our parents brought us to church when we were little? That is not a reason for our going. Catholicism is their religion, but is it ours? Asking ourselves why we go to church, why we follow a system of man-made laws and why we believe – or even if we believe – that the rules and regulations we are taught to follow will actually bring us closer to the ultimate peace we wish to attain is essential to the religious experience.

I applaud so many young people for taking the time out of their weekends to go to church, but we are too old to simply continue going without understanding why we go.

Questioning religion does not separate us from it; it brings it closer and makes an institution become something personal and all our own.

Georgie Hunt is a junior English major from Pomfret, Conn. She can be reached at [email protected].