To be completely honest (as a good Catholic should), I haven't always loved being Catholic. In fact, for the first decade and a half of my life, I dreaded being a Catholic because of all that it entailed: the weekly hour-long masses, the dumb CCD classes, the strict commandments, the modest outfits and the rosaries that apparently didn't double as fashionable necklaces. Everything that I understood to be “Catholic” seemed like it was limiting me and my life.
However, as I matured, I began to desire spiritual depth and I slowly discovered that to be Catholic is to be fully alive in the purest, most beautiful way. And with this internal and subtle conversion of heart, I began falling in love with my Catholic faith. It was a process: the holy spirit would guide me one way and I'd push back the other. I resisted and resisted the spirit, only ever letting it sprinkle over me, until one day, at a Catholic youth conference during Eucharistic adoration. In that moment, I let go off all my pride, my temptations, my selfishness, my ingratitude, and my obsession with perfection. I finally allowed my Catholic faith to overwhelm me, rather than trying to overcome it. And the weirdest thing happened: I finally felt free. (Ironically so, since my entire life prior, I had the belief that being Catholic meant locking myself up and living a boring life full of constant prayers, straight virtue, lectures, limitations, and no fun)
Now, at almost 18 years old, I have lead multiple ACTS retreats, experienced the Holy Spirit at Catholic conferences, and encountered God in four of the seven sacraments, and I can confidently say that I love being Catholic. As I read scripture, study Catholic ethics, and explore the explanations of the Church's teachings, I realize that what I once loathed is actually divinely designed to allow me to love and be loved. I understand that the mass that once bored me is a sacrificial miracle that I have the privilege of witnessing and receiving.
Catholicism is a faith that inspires me to be the best version of myself every second of my time on this earth, not only for myself, but most importantly so that I can serve others and glorify God. While I do strive toward personal sainthood and salvation, I also pray that I live selflessly for others: constantly and continuously positively impacting them, inspiring them, and leading them to the cross.
I love being Catholic because it is a faith rooted in eternal, unconditional, and sacrificial love for all. I love being Catholic because it pushed me to reach for greatness when the world offers me comfort, yet mercifully loves and heals me even when I fall into sin. I love being Catholic because of the human role models: Jesus who paid the ultimate price for me, the blessed Virgin Mary whose courageous “yes” encourages me, and the pious saints who are living testimonies of God's wisdom and power. I love being Catholic because of its timeless tradition and its history as the very first church. I love being Catholic because it offers eternal life when the world says truly living equates to temporary pleasure. I love being Catholic because of the community it brings, the church, the Body of Christ, united as one.
In the end, it is my Catholic faith that defines who I am and who I hope to become.