The following Grad at Grad talk was presented at Morning Assembly on April 3, 2012 by Ms. Sunita Meyers. A Loyola student is becoming more religious.
When I was growing up, Jesus was all over my house. He was in the porch as you entered the house, the living room, the dining room, the kitchen, all the bedrooms, and even the bathroom. He could be found in the form of a picture, a painting, a crucifix, a statue, on rosary beads, or bottles of holy water. I grew up in a very Catholic household. We – my mom, dad, and brother - went to mass together every Sunday. We said the rosary every Friday night. My parents sent my brother and me to Catholic grammar school and high school. I sang in the Church choir and was a lector at mass. My grandma still gives me masses as birthday gifts every year. My life has always been filled with the Catholic religion. For as long as I can remember, Jesus and the Church have been a part of my life. I have no other frame of reference. I never really questioned my religion until I went to high school. There are 3 moments that I remember specifically. One was when my friend Alessandra was questioning whether she believed in all the teachings of the Catholic church. She was really upset and asked me if I ever got upset about the Church. Maybe I wasn’t up for the challenge - I really admired Alessandra for her intelligence – but at that point in my life – I simply thought that she was overthinking everything and I thought it was best to let her work it out on her own. I was happy being Catholic. Another time was when I took World Religions here at Loyola. I learned about all the other organized religions such as Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, and again, my thoughts were simple – thank God I didn’t have to choose a religion on my own – I was overwhelmed with so many choices and different ideas about God, religion, and spirituality. I became grateful that my parents gave me the gift of the Catholic religion. Again, I was affirmed that I was happy being Catholic. The last incident that made me verify that my parents made the right decision for me is when my nonreligious
boyfriend and I were arguing about why I thought that Christianity was the “right” religion. To him I simply responded that Jesus started Christianity, most of the world is Christian and that majority rules. If the majority believes in something, then it must be true, right? Therefore I was right. When I was younger, I used to ask God to give me things. And when things went well, I would thank God. Or I would make deals with God – If you give me this, then I will do this… But it was always easy for me to believe in God when things were going well. Now that I have had more time to reflect on my life, I can see that I have witnessed God during high points and low points in my life. High points in my life include feeling good about myself and overcoming prejudism, getting full scholarships to college and grad school, getting my job at Loyola, making best friends who are still in my life today, moving out of my parents’ house and learning to live on my own, going on kairos retreats, speech trips, and excursions to Europe with Loyola students and faculty, working with the Student government, taking a family trip to India to see where I came from, dating in NY – well maybe that is a low point too, my wedding day, the birth of my two children… and many many others. God was there with me during all these wonderful times. But there were also many low points where I questioned the existence of God in my life because I felt abandoned – severe depression in college, uncertainty during my first years at Loyola, living in NY during 9/11, going to my peers wakes and funerals, my husband losing his job while I was pregnant with our 2nd child, watching my aunt suffer through a mastectomy and breast cancer, the sudden unexpected death of my father, having 2 miscarriages before my 2 healthy pregnancies. Many of these later events happened at the same time and I was very resentful at God because I didn’t understand why all these bad things were happening to me. I was jealous of all my friends who had the things that I didn’t -such as children or both parents in their lives. During this low time, I would get angry at myself for not being able to be happy for others. I came later to realize that God did not abandon me during these hardships. In fact, God carried me through these hard times. I was always taught to see God in my life and appreciate all that God has given me. My
grandmother always tells me, “Do not ask God for anything in particular, but ask him to give you the strength to deal with all that happens in your life. God will never give you more than you can handle.” When I am feeling low, I read the poem “Footprints in the Sand” which some of you may know.
Footprints in the Sand One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord. Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky. In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand. Sometimes there were two sets of footprints; other times there were one set of footprints. This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life, when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat, I could see only one set of footprints. So I said to the Lord, “You promised me Lord, that if I followed you, you would walk with me always. But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there have only been one set of footprints in the sand. Why, when I needed you most, you have not been there for me?” The Lord replied, “The times when you have seen only one set of footprints in the sand, is when I carried you.”
Being religious is a journey, one which you have already started. Now that I am a mother, I would like my children to have the same gift my parents gave me. Studies show that belonging to a religion can provide support, give a sense of belonging and community, teach values, morals, and the importance of sacrifice, and give life meaning and purpose. At Loyola, we have been provided with experiences of God through the Examen, retreats, masses, service trips, and reconciliation services. You have heard teachers and classmates share experiences and reflections throughout the year â€“ all important parts of your journey. Some of you might not appreciate these moments now, but I can attest to you that my friends are envious of my experiences - they need to take their own time out to be religious. How nice it is that Loyola gives us the framework and time to take these opportunities to be religious. This weekend, we are coming up on the holiest day of the year for all Christians. During this Easter, my challenge to you is simple: take time on your own to appreciate the gift of God and religion in your life.
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