Thursday, April 16, 2009

#4: Making Religion a Competition

Being a Catholic school [at least for the time being, what with Obama coming], Notre Dame has religious standards to live up to, and the student body takes it as their mission to make sure that each student is as Catholic as they can be. 

To do this, Notre Dame Students have made religion a competition.  If one student goes to mass only on Sunday, another might start going twice a week just too out-Catholic them.  If one student goes on a religious retreat, another goes on a retreat where everybody is silent the whole time.  If one student participates in an Emmaus group, another feels compelled to make their Emmaus group more Catholic by discussing more scripture.  At times, the competition becomes so fierce that people might be denied access to an Emmaus group because they are not Catholic enough [see the case of Bob Kessler circa 2007].

This problem goes further than what students do, but it involves what they believe.  Notre Dame Students are in a perpetual struggle with one another to see who can follow Catholic Social Teaching most carefully.  If one student doesn’t eat meat on Fridays in Lent, another might decide to give up meat for ALL of Lent.  Another, decidedly more Catholic student, might give up meat on all Fridays of the year. 

This competition has grave consequences for the students who are not a part of it.  Students are looked down for getting a slice of Pepperonni Pizza from Sbarro on a Friday in lent.  Students are looked down upon for missing a Sunday mass.  Students are looked down upon for not participating in Reconciliation, and they certainly can’t think of doing anything more than holding hands with somebody they are in a long term relationship with.  

On the bright side, these students would still win any Catholicism competition with those heathen Catholics from Marquette, Georgetown, and the school that Notre Dame Students used as their backup college.

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