Commentary: There is More to Religion than Church

Sep. 11, 2013 / By

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JOHNNY FLORES JR/ Coachella Uninc

My introduction to religion began the day I was baptized. With a splash of holy water, I was pronounced Catholic. I was about one year old at the time.

I am now 16 and have attended Catholic school my entire life. As I begin my third year at Xavier College Preparatory, I asked myself what I have learned about religion and its meaning.

Upon reflection, I realize this is what I have learned: there is more to religion than believing in God. We must also act.

At my school, students are encouraged to strive for magis, a Jesuit belief that means to “do more.” In other words, we should not only pray and go to church but also help the marginalized, make the most of each day, aim to make better, and right wrongs. Most importantly, I have learned that we must do this all with love.

So how does all of this influence my view on the meaning religion? In grade school, perhaps because of my age, attending religion class and going to weekly Mass was just part of a routine.

But earlier this year, as the College of Cardinals was selecting a new pope, I was excited, along with the rest of my classmates, as we waited for the white smoke to rise at the Vatican. We were filled with hope as we awaited a new era and what it might bring. Classrooms erupted with cheers when news came that Jorge Mario Bergogli, a Jesuit from Argentina, had been chosen to lead our church.

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Coachella Unincorporated is a Youth Media Startup in the East Coachella Valley, funded by the Building Healthy Communities Initiative of The California Endowment and operated by New America Media in San Francisco. The purpose of the project is to report on issues in the community that can bring about change. Coachella Unincorporated refers to the region youth journalists cover but also to the unincorporated communities of the Eastern Valley with the idea to “incorporate” the East Valley into the mainstream Coachella Valley mindset.