In New Orleans, everyone knows that Mardi Gras is crazy but what most people do not realize is that this city is very serious when it comes to Catholicism. Fat Tuesday may seem like the craziest day of Carnival but at midnight that ends. The police and cleaning crews kick people off the street because it is the official start of Lent. Since I’ve landed in this city, I have grown to appreciate and respect the city and its religion. They are one in the same and there is no way to live here and not have a little Catholicism seep into your way of life. I’ve always been a religious person but it seems it has grown since I’ve been here. As strange as it sounds, I have a closer relationship with God recently because I have grown to embrace the city and what it stands for.
With all of that being said, I do not believe in a lot of things that Catholics do but I respect it after going to Loyola. Before Loyola and the city of New Orleans, the only thing I knew about Catholicism I learned in my AP European History class. I went to public school so learning about religion in school was not happening. My first year at Loyola, I recall hearing about Lent and Ash Wednesday and I knew about them but I never celebrated them. I never had a reason to, I thought, because I’m not Catholic but I’ve come to realize that that is not true. Ever since my first Lent here (notice I did not say Mardi Gras) I have given up something for Lent. It is nice to cleanse the body or soul of something to commerate Christ. I’ve given up alcohol, sex, soda, sweets, facebook (the original version, which is in no way as addictive as the new version), and cursing to name a few. I think I gave up soda two years because I am addicted to it.
Though I’ve given up something for Lent every year since I’ve been in New Orleans, it was not until this year that my faith in God returned to what it used to be pre-college. Before, I did it because everyone else was doing it but never for the true reason. The past couple of years have been trying and it was because my faith had faded to almost nothing. Not just my faith in God but my faith in people as well. This year is completely different. I feel more connected to the universe, God, and people. I’m more patient, caring, giving, and understanding. I know this connection is made stronger by observing Lent among other things.
Even after learning and knowing all of the things I know now, I still falter. We all falter because it is in our nature too but also because it helps use trust in something bigger than ourselves. This post started out about how the city of New Orleans has caused me to celebrate some Catholic rituals but then the post ended up something entirely different. This city has broken me down more than once but at the same time it has rebuilt me. For that reason, this city will always be a part of me and me a part of it. Sometimes you have to embrace what breaks you down in order to get back up.