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I Didn't Ask For a Religion!

I didn't ask to get baptized. I didn't ask to be Christian. Why didn't I get to choose? What kind of raw deal is this?

I do like Christmas, though.

Rewind to college...

Villanova (3 time National Champs) is a Catholic university, so there were many opportunities to go to church. When I went, the church was packed. But I felt no connection to anyone or anything.

I'd glance at people deep in prayer — it seemed bizarre. How come they are so into it, and I am not? How do they have faith like that? Do they not question if this whole "thing" is legit?

So, most weekends, I didn't go.

I'd feel guilty.

This made me grumpier. I didn't ask for any of this.

Enter Father Loya...

He taught the course Religion in Russia. Students said he was an incredible teacher, so I registered.

I sat in the back of the class, in my Villanova hoodie, and kept to myself — which was the norm. I should have been more social.

I could see why everyone liked this class. Father Loya didn't seem like a priest at all. He was, like, a regular person.

He encouraged questions. He wasn't afraid to let a question take over an entire lecture.

Naturally, someone asked, "Shouldn't we get baptized when we know what's going on?" 

His answer: 

"Faith is a gift, lovingly given. As any gift, it may be variously denied, or treasured, or neglected, or nurtured; it certainly may be 're-gifted' to another while still ever possessing it."

I perked up.

Have I been seeing this whole "religion thing" the wrong way?

My religion was a gift, given to me as soon as my parents could give it.

I selfishly never looked at it this way. And yes, I could get rid of the "burden" if I'd like. But it was a gift!

The two people that loved me most, my parents, thought their religion was so special, they wanted me to have it.

I know, I know. My atheist friends still poke me: "Just because someone gives you something, doesn't mean it's worthy of keeping." I poke back with, "You didn't seem to mind this religion stuff while opening your Christmas gifts, now did you?" We laugh at our religiously lame conversation.

But my parents gave it to me. And their parents gave it to them. And so on...

The least I could do was explore it. Try it out. Really try it out.

And when I did, there was no going back.

Now, as a dad, my wife and I are re-gifting it to our children. 

Time will tell what they do with that gift.

Thank you, Father Loya.

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