Thursday, December 2, 2010

I'm Undercover at the CINO...

This is Emmy and I'm reporting live from the CINO (Catholic in Name Only) college with this breaking news... I am officially done with my Intro to Catholicism class! Whoo! I just finished my final presentation on parishes within the L.A. Archdiocese. Phew! But that isn't why I am blogging today.

I've been getting a lot of hits on my CINO post, largely due to Patrick being nice enough to send them my way for advice and comments of support, and I've realized that I haven't really updated how it's been going since the post. While I do tweet about my experience, as it happens, on twitter I haven't had the time to sit down and write a proper entry on here. I also feel like I should clarify some things. By the way, to the person who called me a "dumb, ignorant, pathetic excuse for a Catholic" (I'm paraphrasing but those were the words used) for "making a dumb decision" regarding what school I chose to attend: I hope this post will make you understand where I'm coming from and will make you re-evaluate the hurtful attack you launched on me last night.

First off, thank you for all your comments. As I said in a previous post, I made my decision as to what to do. After much consideration, talking to friends whose opinions I valued, and prayer, I decided to stay where I am. Before anyone comments on that, especially for my new readers, let me explain something. When I initially chose this school in 2006, I was barely returning to the Church. As I got more serious about my faith I looked elsewhere. I wasn't majoring in Religious Studies (I was an English Literature and Jazz Studies major before I settled on RST) so it wasn't like I was looking for the school with the best Religious Studies or Theology department. I looked into St. Bede's Hall in England, Thomas Aquinas College, Ave Maria, Steubenville, etc. I actually came very close to going for the more faithful colleges, as well as the secular University of British Columbia, when my father was diagnosed with cancer the second time (before the third and final time). Since I wanted to take care of my father, and I was still dealing with my anxiety and panic disorder, I decided to stay in L.A. and I chose to attend my current college over the other "Catholic" college in the area because I hadn't heard as many bad things about it. From the research I did, it seemed to have been getting better in terms of the heresy spewed so I decided to give it a shot. Still, I applied elsewhere just in case my dad did get better and I could go away. As my father got worse and his cancer became terminal, I decided to stick with the plan to stay in L.A. for as long as needed. When my father died last summer (2009), I decided to stay at home for various reasons but mostly because of the concern for my well being and because of family responsibilities I inherited with his passing. I didn't want to go away while mourning my father and while my mother was inconsolable (and she still is nearly a year and a half later; they were married nearly 30 years).

Right before I started this semester, literally weeks beforehand, I started hearing about how bad it was. From what I heard I thought I'd still be able to survive in one piece and thought "Hey, if they still allow me to believe what I do and to engage in conversation, I'll be okay." After all, it never hurts to learn the arguments from the other side to both strengthen your own beliefs and to get an idea of where they're coming from. So I began the semester but quickly learned that it was "my way or the high way." I began the 54 day Rosary novena, hoping Our Blessed Mother would help guide me on what to do. Things got worse before they got better. As I got closer to finishing the novena, I noticed a sudden change in my professors. With the exception of one, they began to allow me to challenge their beliefs. By the time I finished the novena early last month I was no longer getting marked down. On the contrary, I got full points for assignments in which I argued with the pro-Vatican II, "traditional Catholics need to get with the times" classmates. I learned how to do my assignments without agreeing with them, and getting my points across tactfully. One of my professors, whom we don't believe is actually Catholic, spoke to me after class and she said that she actually admired me for sticking it out and for "having the guts" to major in RST in this "environment."

Also during the novena, and after, I got to know some of my classmates better. There were some closeted "traditional" Catholics or simply conservative Christians on campus that were in the same boat as I was. We all formed a support group. In one of my classes, I met someone with whom I could roll my eyes with and with whom I could talk about Catholicism properly. (Btw, she might read this so hi! :D) When we had the assignment to visit parishes in the Archdiocese, I got some of the girls to attend a Latin Mass given at St. Catherine of Siena in nearby Reseda, CA. That made my professor not too happy with me but she's since gotten over it. While I still clash with my professors (boy, do we clash) I am allowed to speak my mind. Things are so much different... including how I view things.

I still have the same beliefs I had prior to attending this school, but I have a better understanding of where the "progressives" on campus come from. It's making me do more research and it's helping me learn so much more about my faith. My arguments are stronger and clearer than before. I'm gaining confidence when defending the Faith while helping bust stereotypes some of my classmates had about what it is to be Catholic and what the Church's teachings are regarding subjects such as homosexuality and birth control. While my professors do skip over me when they say something they know I will contradict/try to defend, for the most part it's getting much easier for me. I expect to continue having a hard time but it's now manageable. I know what I can get away with and have found loopholes around a lot of things so I can't technically get kicked out or failed for stating my beliefs.

Thank you to all of you tried to help me transfer to other schools but due to financial difficulties, familial responsibilities, and other things, my only option is to stick it out. Through the intercession of Our Blessed Mother, and by praying the 54 day Rosary novena, I am at a better place now. I can do this... and I more willing and prepared to defend our Faith than I was when I first started in mid-late August. :)

My Lit class starts in about 15 minutes so I should go but I hope that this blog will shed some light into my situation and decisions. For the person who decided to attack me, I have no ill will towards you and I pray that this post has been eye-opening for you. I still recommend really looking into colleges carefully and I do not recommend my current school for other faithful Catholics (and I stick by what I wrote in the first CINO post). For everyone who is in a similar situation, please know you are in my prayers and hope that you stay strong despite opposition for professors, faculty, and other students.

And now off to Literature class I go. :D

As always, thanks for reading and God Bless!


AMDG-3141 said...

Awesome post! I applaud you "sticking to your guns" and not caving in like so many others would have done!
You rock!

Anonymous said...

:), persevere, persevere, finish the race :), fight the good fight. 25 days to go, lol :p

K. Suzanne said...

I'm glad to see this change in you, Emmy. :)

Catherine said...

Gutsy of you to take a stand and be a force for good!

Prayers... that those you encounter during your studies who need Our Lord most meet Him through you and your witness! And for courage... that it remains rock-solid throughout the rest of your time there.

God bless!

Pat said...

Nice post and keep up the effort. Forgive me if I find the accusation that you are pathetic catholic for going to such a college rather amusing since clearly the opposite is true given your writings. We all regularly forget that the Lord is really in charge of it all and has his purpose in giving us difficult challenges. 30 years ago I attended a highly regarded women's college that was (and remains) intensely pro-abortion, where women chose for political reasons to be gay (go figure), and men were the real problem (if women ran the world all would be peaceful and harmonious - tell that to 8th grade girls and PTA moms). I enjoyed my college and bought into some of the things they believed. But the Holy Spirit had other plans. In my Spanish class I read for the first time the poetry of of St. John of the Cross and I was done for. Because of my exposure to that college environment, I later converted and am now a devout catholic and my family is going to the Pro-life march in DC next month. Despite all of the other noise at college, the poetry of St. John of the Cross and all the theology it represents prevailed and lead me to the church. The great gift of you current experience is you will continue to grow in wonderful ways and it will take you places in your faith life you never imagined existed. God bless.

fx said...

I am a cradle Catholic who strayed in his twenties despite having an excellent secular education at a Jesuit school. You are far ahead of the game. Most of us spend our twenties thinking we know better than the church, and it takes years to be humbled back into communion.

Even in the hindsight of ten years, I would not wish my university education to have been any different, despite the outrageous deficiencies of a school that was founded on, and continues to hold itself out as a proponent of, the Good News of Christ. It was a spiritual dry spell for me, but that time in the desert was instructive and ultimately essential to strengthening my faith in the long run.

In a similar way, you have been placed in a difficult situation. You have an enormous advantage in knowing the stakes of your religious education while you are experiencing it. You are years ahead of your faithless peers. Take comfort in the graces you have been given, even as your environment militates against you. Your example is an inspiration to others, like me, who struggle to keep faith in the atomized isolation of the modern secular predicament.

We seek sanctuary in the institutions of the church, and yet after every mass we are instructed to "go in peace to love and serve the Lord." We want to remain in the comfort of our mother's bosom, but our command is to "go" forth. Our presence and our witness to Christ in hostile places is at the very heart of our identity.

Your particular circumstance, where Providence itself has placed you, requires a little subtlety and a lot of perseverance. The contradictions of a nominally Catholic institution are a unique challenge. Our most difficult opponents to the Gospel are those who claim the name, who sow confusion, and who unconsciously undermine the mission. Our reaction to them requires even greater charity, even more patience, even more resolve. Your school will not be the only CINO entity you'll have to deal with. The practice will serve you well.

So don't despair of your challenges. Embrace them and overcome them with joy, the kind of joy that only a daughter of the church could have. We are the body of Christ, in but not of the kingdom of this world. Stay among them to transform them. They need your witness more than you perhaps realize.

I see the increasing faithlessness of young people diverted by ephemera, pulled in every direction but the divine one, and I am tempted to despair for the future. But then I see a young person like you, on fire for her faith, and I remember that "you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

Your brothers and sisters are with you. May the Holy Spirit stay with you. Keep the faith.

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

I will keep you in my prayers. You were very smart to enlist the Blessed Mother's help in this. May she continue to protect you and know that you have so many Catholics behind you. I have a daughter who is 18 and getting ready to go off to college next year. She is attending a local secular university, and we've been talking a great deal about what she will face.

Hang in there and learn from the progressives. Then, you will know their arguments inside and out.