Dear Young Catholic,
Just because you should be doing something doesn’t make it easy, nor does it mean you should have to do it alone and unsupported. There are times when being Catholic can be tough when you feel like you are the only person in the entire world who believes what you believe and when the expectations placed on you are enormous and impossible. There are times when going against the grain of society is simply exhausting, faith is confusing, and sanctity doesn’t seem to have its own reward.
Maybe your faith is a massive struggle right now. Maybe you cannot see the relevance of it in your life. Maybe everything in your life is going well, but faith feels like an obligation. Or maybe things recently have been crashing down around you and God seems distant, cold and silent.
Maybe anger and hurt cloud everything and you cannot see your future. Or perhaps you know that your faith means everything to you, but the price you pay for it is bigger than you ever imagined it to be and there is no one beside you to support you or encourage you.
Perhaps all you feel is self-judgment for the times when you made mistakes. Perhaps you are tired of explaining yourself, or of having to walk away from relationships when you refuse to compromise your self-worth. Maybe you have experienced so much rejection because of being a Catholic that you have nothing left to give anyone else.
Perhaps you long for friends who share your faith, who understand who you are and why you believe these things. Maybe you wish you had someone to go to Mass with, to pray with, to explain your doubts and difficulties to. Maybe you are exhausted from defending the one thing that gives you so much joy.
It can be so difficult when there is no one around you to remind you that all the hard work is worth it. It is discouraging when no one else understands how lonely it can be going to Mass alone, or how much strength it takes and how much sadness it produces to walk away from situations that you know aren’t right. Maybe you’re tired of making the same old mistakes again and again. It is difficult; I know that! And I want to encourage you.
I want to remind you that even if you do feel alone in your faith right now and are struggling, we share with you that hard work and want to remind you of the joy and friendship that knowing Christ is. Whatever stage you are in your faith, keep going.
Tiny steps are sometimes all you need. Keep praying, even if it is only five minutes a day.
Know that you can be proud to be Catholic. It is what makes you who you are, and given that you are a unique and interesting person, it is part of the rich fabric of life that makes up your beautiful self. You will not always be surrounded by people who see your faith negatively.
You will meet people who are intrigued by your faith, who genuinely want to know more and who are waiting for an opportunity to share something personal about themselves. You’ll meet people who tell you that they want something you have- whether it is a sense of purpose, a sense of peace or the knowledge that you are loved unconditionally by God.
I say this not to create boundaries, but to encourage you in the thought that though sometimes your faith may feel like a burden, there will be unexpected times when it will surprise you by the power it has for good, for creating connections with others, for changing others lives. Don’t forget the enormous power of your faith. God will work through you in amazing ways that you never expected!
So, I get it. It’s hard to be a young Catholic. Maybe you feel you could be doing better. Maybe you just feel lost. I hope that by simply acknowledging these difficulties in this letter to you, you will feel less alone. Yes, things change and one day the struggles you face now won’t be so difficult.
But even so, please just know that we are praying for you, we are encouraging you, and we share your sufferings with you! Together, with Christ and His Mother Mary, you can do it!
With love and prayers,
From one young Catholic to another