I’ve attended Catholic schools my entire life. I went to a small Catholic elementary school from pre-school all the way through eighth grade, an all-girls Catholic high school for four years, and I am now a senior at Loyola – yet another Catholic school. Even when I studied abroad in Belgium, I attended Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, which translates to “the Catholic University of Leuven.” Needless to say, religion has been a huge influence in my life. I’ve been constantly surrounded by Catholicism and have been challenged by it throughout the years.
I feel as though my, and many others’, spiritual journey is similar to Noeli’s in the chapter entitled “A Pilgrim’s Progress” in Tales of the Tikongs. Like young Noeli, us Catholic school kids were “…told to be good and obedient, and to keep away from Temptation” (28). Also similar to Noeli’s primary school experiences, the stories of the Bible were ingrained into our minds to teach us how to resist temptation. As most young children, “Up to that stage Noeli had no insoluble problems; all temptations were solved easily and quickly by his Sabbatarian parents and his Sabbatarian Sunday School” (29). I was blessed with amazing parents and teachers that easily taught me right from wrong and solved my problems for me when I was a young child. At a young age, I was simply not exposed to many temptations. For example, my mom didn’t want me to watch Rugrats because she thought that I would mimic Angelica’s personality. By not allowing me to watch that television show, I was saved from the temptation to imitate the behaviors of a bad role model. Although these instructions and lessons protected me from temptation, it also sheltered me from some real world experiences.
With age comes wisdom of our surroundings and of the world. As Noeli grew older, “…he developed some ineffably strange inner and outer stirrings which led to his discovery that the Sabbatarian Church…had nothing for Young Rams and Ewes but Bible Reading, Hymning, and Praying” (29-30). As we grow older, we discover that there is more to life than what we’ve simply been told by our parents and teachers and we learn through our personal experiences. We discover what is right and what is wrong through trial and error. Like Noeli, who was drawn to the Morocs and then the Apostolics and then the Gatherings for God, many young Catholics stray away from their religion for a new and different experience. Also like Noeli, some of us become restless and fidgety and eventually drop out of our new experiences altogether until we find something that really resonates with us. Once we find that resonating path, we dedicate all of our efforts to it.
Similar to Noeli, our final path may be what we were following originally. It is natural and human to let our experiences influence our paths of life and to allow them to guide us. It isn’t wrong to be influenced by something that isn’t what we grew up knowing. In fact, it might be better to be influenced by something different so that we can find, like Noeli, the path that we are ultimately called to follow.