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My Faith: Why I’m going back to church for Good Friday
Brian Spadora chose son William's middle name: Ignatius, after the saint.
March 28th, 2013
10:00 PM ET

My Faith: Why I’m going back to church for Good Friday

Editor’s note: Brian Spadora lives and writes in New Jersey, where he attends Seton Hall University School of Law. Follow him on Twitter at @brianspadora.

By Brian Spadora, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Like many Catholics my age, I am Catholic in name only. I went to Mass every week as a kid and attended a Jesuit high school and college. My wife and I married in a Catholic church, and both of our children were baptized. But I haven’t been a churchgoer since I became too old for my mother to coerce me into a pew.

I haven’t even made the effort to attend Mass twice a year like “Christmas and Easter Catholics.” For my entire adult life, my Catholic faith has been a sort of cultural vestige, like the Italian, Irish and Slovak ethnic heritage from which I’m generations removed.

Despite this, this month I decided I am returning to the church. This turn of events is not quite as miraculous as the multiplication of loaves and fishes, but it’s pretty surprising. It began, innocently enough, with a half-serious promise to my devout Catholic mother.

When Pope Benedict XVI announced last month that he would step down from the papacy on February 28, I emailed my mother, “If they choose a Jesuit pope, I promise to go to Mass at least once every month.”

My irreligious lifestyle felt safe. There had never been a Jesuit pope, and the oddsmakers didn’t include any Jesuits among their favorites to succeed Pope Benedict. I didn’t give the promise too much thought; it was somewhere between wishful thinking and “when pigs fly.”

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Then, along with the rest of the world, I heard the announcement that Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina became Pope Francis, the 266th pope – and the first Jesuit.

I was in the car when I heard the news, and I literally cheered aloud. While I had long ago left the church behind, my regard for the Jesuit order never wavered.

The elevation of a Jesuit to the papacy is enough to do what years of prodding by my own mother couldn’t.

I owe nearly everything I value in my life to Jesuit education. I entered St. Peter’s Preparatory School in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1990 as a rambunctious 14-year-old with authority issues. My four years there upended all my conceptions of religion. St. Peter’s, or “the Prep” as we alums call it, taught me how to be an adult, a friend and a Christian. The Jesuits taught me how to love.

During my junior year, a group of friends and I participated in the school’s retreat program. We spent a weekend with faculty retreat leaders in an old house on the Jersey shore, cooking meals together, laughing and praying. We spoke openly about our joys and our pain, as well. We learned that each of us carried within him a burden that could be lightened only by friendship. Our retreat leaders didn’t need to tell us that relieving the burdens of others was the purpose of Christianity. Instead, they lived that example.

Where my previous religious education had prescribed belief, my Jesuit education encouraged thought. Religion was no longer something that stipulated obedience but a practice that demanded action. The Jesuit leadership of the Prep encouraged us students to be, in the words of former Jesuit Superior General Father Pedro Arrupe, “men for others.”

We were fortunate to attend a school like the Prep, and it wasn’t enough to study hard and get good grades. We had an obligation – to ourselves and to God – to serve one another and our communities. The relationships I made during those years remain the strongest in my life, including with my wife, whom I met when we were 17, while she attended the Prep’s sister school.

This teaching was firmly in line with the teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola, who founded the Society of Jesus, as the Jesuits are formally known, in 1540. St. Ignatius had been a Basque soldier, as well as something of a ladies’ man, until his conversion while convalescing after a cannonball shattered his leg. In his writings, most notably in his “Spiritual Exercises,” St. Ignatius espoused a theology based on loving deeds rather than loving thoughts or words. St. Ignatius calls us not merely to worship Christ but to imitate him.

As a teenager, I naturally fell far short of the standard my Jesuit teachers had called me to, and I continue to fall short as an adult.

I grew alienated from the church due to what I perceive to be inflexibility on issues like contraception, homosexuality and the role of women in the church, but I continued to look to the example of service the Jesuits set through institutions like the Jesuit Refugee Service.

In times of crisis, I’ve turned to contemporary Jesuit writers, particularly Father James Martin. Although I left the church, the Jesuits never left me.

I’ve remained close to the Prep and the Jesuits whose instruction was so valuable to me. When my son, William, was baptized in 2008, the ceremony was held in the Prep’s chapel. The school’s president, Father Robert Reiser, once my teacher and now a treasured friend, was the priest. My closest high school friend, Michael Zakhar, was the godfather. My wife, Tara, and I chose William’s first name together, but she allowed me to choose his middle name: Ignatius.

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Now there is no longer the church I left and the Jesuits I embrace but a church led by a Jesuit.

I know the church won’t transform immediately into the type of institution I’d like it to me. It would be unreasonable and selfish for me to expect otherwise.

As a cardinal, Francis expressed conservative views like his opposition to adoptions by homosexuals, a view with which I disagree assiduously. On the other hand, he admonished an audience of Argentinian priests for forgetting the church’s obligations to society’s most vulnerable.

“Jesus teaches us another way,” he said. “Go out. Go out and share your testimony; go out and interact with your brothers; go out and share; go out and ask. Become the Word in body as well as spirit.”

Francis seems intent on refocusing the church toward its duties to serve those in need.

So on Good Friday, I’ll be returning to the church with hope that Francis’ example will inspire me - and Catholics in general - as his fellow Jesuits have always inspired me.

I’m keeping my word to my mother and returning to Mass, where I will pray for the strength to follow the example of St. Ignatius, loving others not in word only but in deed.

The opinions expressed are solely those of Brian Spadora.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Pope Francis

soundoff (652 Responses)
  1. Curious

    In his article he never mentions Christian faith or Jesus. Just that he likes a group of people who have been very beneficial to him in his lifetime. That's not being a Catholic, or a Christian, or even being religious. He joined a club. Like the Shriners. Or the local Chamber of Commerce. That's about as shallow as it gets.

    March 29, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
    • Saraswati

      If you look at the surveys of beliefs that's what Catholicism is for about 80% of its followers. Most in the US would, by belief alone, better fit in to another church, often the Episcopals or Unitarians, but they like the old club better.

      March 29, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
    • brianspadora

      Sorry you didn't enjoy the piece. I wouldn't say I like the Jesuits just because they've "been very beneficial" to me. I like them because I admire the example they set of how to treat people with compassion. I would say that's the essence of being Christian, but one certainly doesn't have to be a Christian in order to treat people with compassion. It's funny, the atheists posting seem to have read the piece as some sort of account of my conversion to zealotry, while you seem to find it wasn't religious enough or religious at all. My goal was simply to share an aspect of my efforts to be a kinder, more compassionate person. A big part of that effort is looking to the example of the Jesuits I've known.

      March 29, 2013 at 11:03 pm |
  2. Shakingmyhead

    Apparently "tolerance" only goes one way. My idea of the concept of Christianity is this: Love God with all your heart and soul and love each other as you love yourselves. So scoffers and the "tolerant perfect people" of society: throw your stones and DONT preach to me TOLERANCE when you have shown it yourselves. Thanks.

    March 29, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
    • Shakingmyhead

      *have not shown it. LOL

      March 29, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
  3. Reality

    “John Hick, a noted British philosopher of religion, estimates that 95 percent of the people of the world owe their religious affiliation to an accident (the randomness) of birth. The faith of the vast majority of believers depends upon where they were born and when. Those born in Saudi Arabia will almost certainly be Moslems, and those born and raised in India will for the most part be Hindus. Nevertheless, the religion of millions of people can sometimes change abruptly in the face of major political and social upheavals. In the middle of the sixth century ce, virtually all the people of the Near East and Northern Africa, including Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt were Christian. By the end of the following century, the people in these lands were largely Moslem, as a result of the militant spread of Islam.

    The Situation Today

    Barring military conquest, conversion to a faith other than that of one’s birth is rare. Some Jews, Moslems, and Hindus do convert to Christianity, but not often. Similarly, it is not common for Christians to become Moslems or Jews. Most people are satisfied that their own faith is the true one or at least good enough to satisfy their religious and emotional needs. Had St. Augustine or St. Thomas Aquinas been born in Mecca at the start of the present century, the chances are that they would not have been Christians but loyal followers of the prophet Mohammed. “ J. Somerville

    It is very disturbing that religious narrow- mindedness, intolerance, violence and hatred continues unabated due to randomness of birth. Maybe, just maybe if this fact would be published on the first page of every newspaper every day, that we would finally realize the significant stupidity of all religions

    March 29, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
    • Bob

      That's a genetic fallacy. Just because a person is born in a certain region of the world and embraces that religion in that region doesnt logically follow that that religion is therefore false. You may argue other reasons a certain religion is false, but not in this way.

      March 29, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Bob, no one is arguing this proves that a particular religion is false, just that is the majority of belief can be explained by accident of birth, we can assume that for any individual there is avery high probability that little of their belief choice is based on other factors, such as research and logical reasoning.

      March 29, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
    • genetic fallacy

      No, it does not on it's own invalidate all religion. It does however make one consider that at a 95% rate maybe it's not as much a true religion that makes people filled with faith but the indoctrination from an early age that determines ones future faith and how strongly they will feel about that faith.

      March 29, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
    • Reality

      Again, facing the Truth:

      Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

      • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

      • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

      • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

      • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

      • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

      • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

      • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

      Added details available upon written request.

      A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

      e.g. Taoism

      "The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

      Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother's womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. "

      March 30, 2013 at 7:47 am |
  4. Writerscramp

    If believing there is an invisible man up in the sky watching over your every move brings a person comfort, a sense of purpose and a reason for being when nothing else in life bring you such things, then we agnostics/atheists/freethinkers/humanists/secularists support your right to choose to do so. Now, how about the Bible Thumpers returning the same respect to those who choose not to believe in the same things they do.

    March 29, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
    • A Conversation

      You refer to "an invisible man up in the sky watching over your every move" and refer to Christians as "Bible Thumpers" and yet you then claim we should give you the same "respect"??? Really? That's your idea of giving respect? Interesting. Sad, but interesting.

      March 29, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
    • A Conversation Stopper

      Obviously if you are a good Christian minding your own business and not trying to enforce your religious morality on everyone else around you then you are not a "Bible Thumper". As for the fact that you worship "an invisible man up in the sky" that is just a description of your God you don't like but can only disagree with the part about him being a "man" since we were made in his image so i'm sure there would be no resemblance.

      March 29, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
    • A Conversation

      @A Conversation Stopper...the issue was respect, thus the reference to "an invisible man up in the sky" serves no purpose other than to mock–i.e. disrespect. Christians do not believe God is "invisible," (unless the role of Jesus will be played by Claude Rains), nor do we believe he lives in the sky–but of course you already know that so you too mock us, show no respect and yet demand it in return.

      March 29, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
    • A Conversation Stopper

      I know where you imagine your God to reside and yes, "sky" is a poor description of what you imagine as "heaven". However, if using words and terminology that everyone might understand "sky" get's accross the basic concept of "heavens" which is "not of earth". You effectively are nitpicking like a Tolkein fan who get's upset at someone who claims Gandalf was a man and goes on at length to explain how the wizard known as Greyhame, Stormcrow, Olórin, Incánus, Tharkûn, Gandalf the Grey, Gandalf the White, Mithrandir , The Grey Pilgrim, The White Rider and Láthspell was no man...

      Insults cannot be given, they can only be taken. Grow up and stop acting like a child when it comes to your thin skinned faith.

      March 29, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
    • A Conversation

      My dear opposite...no thin skin here...just pointing out that writerscramp demanded the "SAME" respect, but showed none himself...this isn't about where God resides or whether he is invisible or even if he is a man...if you can say with a straight face that Writerscramp's description of an invisible man in the sky is not an over attempt to mock Christians, then more power to you. No one will believe you, but more power to you.

      March 29, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • A Conversation

      Sorry...meant: "overt attempt"

      March 29, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
  5. The ONE true GOD

    As a believer, you dont follow the examples of other saints or priests, you follow the example of CHRIST alone. Its about about having a relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ, not through a priest, fellow saint, or any other man on this earth at all. This is the difference between religion (the catholic church) and a RELATIONSHIP (with Christ) who is able to give you life, love, fulfillment, forgiveness, and purpose without the man made religous system of traditions and vain rituals. Jesus came to do away with religion. He could not stand the Pharisees because of they were so religous.

    "These people honor Me with their lips, but their HEARTS are FAR from Me." Matthew 15:8 #Jesus

    March 29, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
    • Sarah Caldwell

      Duh! What Christian doesn't know that? But, Jesus went to synagogue and we don't. Jesus didn't sing in church and we do. What did you do? Look through the piece for something piddly to complain about. Paul spoke of the greater responsibility of teachers because teachers are followed. He didn't suggest that teachers tell their pupils not to imitate them. He certainly told believers to imitate him a time or two.

      March 29, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
  6. Chad

    @Cheesemakers "The problem with Christianity is that it is an immoral concept. The premise of the Christian dogma..... that we all deserve punishment because we live in a fallen world because of something someone did thousands of years ago"

    =>um...

    I think the real problem here, is that you seem to not understand at all the basics of Christianity..

    Even wonder what you would think about Christianity, if you actually understood what it really is?

    March 29, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
    • SDFrankie

      Feel free to enlighten us on where the poster went astray.

      March 29, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • Agnes of Dog

      My thoughts exactly, SDF.

      March 29, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      Because the way you demonstrate error is to bleat, "You're WRONG!!" and throw a snide and baseless comment in there just for the fun of it.

      March 29, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Well, Chard, what's stopping you from telling everyone about it? Go right ahead. After all, your posts thus far have been ever SO persuasive. I'm sure you've converted....uh..well..never mind.

      March 29, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • SDFrankie

      Of course I only had eight years of Catholic school, but I'm pretty sure I remember something about a blood sacrifice atoning for some sort of original sin. Pretty sure.

      March 29, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
    • Agnes of Dog

      ( for those tuning in, this appears to be a contuation of Chad's thread on: March 29, 2013 at 12:30 pm )

      March 29, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • Agnes of Dog

      ( continuation )

      March 29, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
    • History Channel's "The Bible" Parts 3 & 4 - In Under 11 Minutes!

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTRn28iZD_g&w=640&h=360]

      March 29, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
    • Writerscramp

      "not necessarily the Cheesemakers who will inherit the Earth, but any manufacturer of dairy products"

      March 29, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Huh, I guy on here was just saying the exact same thing about Islam. What to do?

      March 29, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
    • Chad

      "The premise of the Christian dogma..... that we all deserve punishment because we live in a fallen world because of something someone did thousands of years ago"

      =>that is not Christian dogma....

      March 30, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
  7. SDFrankie

    Yes, and they wear lovely costumes during mass, those priests. Also the incense smells cool when they burn it. Pretty pictures and statues on the walls. And if you like organ music you can't hardly beat mass. Wow, there are so many great reasons to go to mass if you leave out the fact that the entire religion is a farce that wouldn't fool a reasonably intelligent child if you didn't brain-wash them.

    March 29, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
    • Really?

      Whenever I am having a bad day, I just glance at online news forums. Then I feel so much better about myself.

      There are so many people who have no idea what they are talking about trying to out smart a complete stranger online. BWWAAA HHAA HHAA. You must feel so proud of yourself behind your keyboard.

      If you want to "teach" me about religion or "prove" to me what it fact/fiction...first emial me your resume. I'm guessing that 99% of the poeple commenting here have ZERO education on world religions, history, etc. If it makes your ego feel better to post snide comments and belittle others, you must be a lonely human being.

      The article was very nice! I have hope that this Pope inspires others to serve the less fortnate whether they believe in God or not. Personally, I don't care what others believe as long as the contribute to society and leave the world a better place. : )

      March 29, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
  8. Atheist, me?

    Repentance means changing your thinking or philosophy of life. Christ expected people who are converted to take his philosophy as their own so that they can live like Him.
    This philosophy is
    "I love my neighbor as myself"
    make it your mantra and feel the power of repentance.

    March 29, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
    • The real Tom

      AM, how long have you been on this kick? It's really not all that insightful.

      March 29, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
  9. Pale Horseman

    Jesus taught his disciples to go out and teach people to repent which means pay for your own sins.
    Why are many of you intent on teaching people that Jesus pays for everybody's sins?
    Do you really think Jesus should pay for what happened with those little boys?

    March 29, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • bill

      Jesus didn't condone the sin, but rather forgave the sinner when he truly repented.

      March 29, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
    • Bob

      Why would an all-powerful entity need a sacrifice to remove sin? Why not just remove it? The idea of a god sacrificing is nonsense in and of itself, and the whole Jesus sacrifice thing is a load of rubbish.

      March 29, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
    • Atheist, me?

      Agnostic/freethinkers/humanists/atheists/secularist?
      Are you trying to say that we just have to roll you all in one?
      My dad was an Agnostic for most of the time we spent together but he does not fit your description one bit. In fact he encouraged his children to attend church. What maybe u can say is that radical sectarian Atheists want only their religion to exist. Most don't care like my dad!

      March 29, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
    • Atheist, me?

      It is up to us spiritual Xtians to show the world that the hallmarks of xtian religiosity-ritual, theology, legalism and heirarchy as bearing the fruit of the spirit in our lives. I thank God for the life of your grandparents.

      March 29, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
    • The real Tom

      "Legalism"? "Hierarchy"?

      I'd ask you wteff you are talking about, but I'd probably regret it.

      March 29, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
  10. bill

    I am Catholic and was a product of Jesuit education both at the high school and college level. I am very grateful for the education they bestowed on me. I too was a cafeteria Catholic for many years and find his story compelling. Jesuits were and are "Men for others." Perhaps critics should think about what common ground we have like our shared humanity, and do something for someone else like the Jesuits. It's easy to do nothing and whine and moan about Catholicism. Get outside yourselves and work in a pantry or help someone less fortunate.

    March 29, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Or pick another belief system that makes more sense to you:

      http://www.selectsmart.com/RELIGION/

      March 29, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • Writerscramp

      I also thank a Catholic education for making me the happy and content Atheist I am today. If your kid has a sense of logic and reason, no more surefire way to ensure they will turn out a proud Atheist than sending that kid to catholic school. They really hate freethinkers there and uppity kids who ask questions about what they are teaching, such as "So where did Mrs. Cain come from ?"

      March 29, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • brianspadora

      Thanks for the comment. I am glad the piece resonated with you.

      March 29, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
  11. Lester Singleton

    Sounds to me like this guy is like those people who buy their favorite jersey and only wear it when their team is winning. Now that the Catholic church could turn toward his liking, he is on board to try again. Typical mindset of the younger generation these days.

    March 29, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
    • mysense2

      The fact that the writer cheered out loud at the announcement of a pope saying anything other than it's all a farce tells us a great deal. If that's all it took, he never left the flock, but would be a fair weather sheep indeed. Never underestimate the effect of intense loneliness and the desire to be a part of something....anything...involving others. The article reminds one of Joyce's response to his dieing mother's request for prayer in "Portrait of the Artist"

      March 29, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • Scott

      You're an idiot

      March 29, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
  12. Donna

    Thank you for your article Brian. Like you, I was raised Catholic, married in the Church, my children were baptized and attended Catechism classes. I was educated by the Jesuits at St. Peter's College. But over the years attending Mass was just a ritual with no substance. I do not need a buidling to live my faith.With the election of Pope Francis I find myself drawn to his actions and statements. I too was thrilled when they elected a Jesuit. I am not quite to the point of "returning to the flock" but that door has opened just a bit more because of the promise I see. In time, perhaps the community of my parish will provide a meaningful avenue to express my faith.

    March 29, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
    • brianspadora

      Thanks very much, Donna. I appreciate your comment.

      March 29, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
  13. DD

    Look, it's your choice what you want to believe or do. All I ask is that religious organisations leave non-members alone, and I will do the same.

    March 29, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
    • Bill

      DD, what exactly have church-goers done to you?
      Are we talking about getting accosted on the street. If so I definitely agree with you.
      Or are we talking about a Valedictorian who wants to mention Jesus in her speech. Because if THAT is what is offending you, the problem is yours, in that you are preventing others from expressing their faith in the way they wish.

      March 29, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • No Gods No Master

      What poster DD is trying to point is that far too often religious people inject their religious dogman into the public sphere.

      March 29, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
  14. Alias

    One last time:
    This is how brainwashed people think.

    Look at what the article really says about how and when he was recruited.

    March 29, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • Lycidas

      So you believe that this man is nothing but a product of his upbringing?

      What of you? Are you not a prisoner of your own upbrining?

      Who are you to say that your own special brainwashing that you recieved in your youth is superior to his?

      March 29, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Lycidas,

      This guy admits he has never tried anything else. He has always lived inside the bubble of Catholicism. Almost everyone I know went through periods of intellectual exploration and these are people whose opinions I trust. Someone who continued under one narrow set of rituals and beliefs, have a period where it was taken somewhat less seriously, and then hopped back on the track. Mope, sorry, not taking him too seriously.

      March 29, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • Alias

      A group took him and his friends away on 'retreats' when he was 14 yrs old and looking for meaning in life. They made him their friend and told him how to think about himself and others. Even when he saw the flaws in that group, he never really left. He thinks he owes almost everything of value in his life to his Jesuit education.

      Not all upbringings are brainwashing.

      March 29, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      He's still only going because he lost a bet with his mother.

      March 29, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
    • Lester Singleton

      @Saraswati so basically what you are saying is that you have to leave religion all together, never to return, for you to trust them? What about someone who never believed and then was converted to Christianity. Would you "trust" them?

      March 29, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • Bill

      Alias .... which part of Love, forgiveness, mercy, joy, self-lessness, humility and taking care of the poor do you have a problem with? Because THOSE are the teachings of Jesus and thus they SHOULD be the cornerstone of Christianity.
      Not sure what your problem is.

      March 29, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Lester

      "so basically what you are saying is that you have to leave religion all together, never to return, for you to trust them?"

      No, but they would have to present good evidence that they had actually gone out and explored the options. This author presented no such evidence, ad by his choice to go back to a religion with which he largely disagrees has indicated very little awareness of the alternatives.

      March 29, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @Saraswati- I'll try to gove him the benefit of the doubt that he isn't blindly following his beliefs. Obviously certain aspects of it like walking the walk more than talking the talk of the Jesuits appealed to him. It wasn't just because of how he was raised.

      March 29, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Lycidas, You can give him the benefit of the doubt if you want to be generous but I would put any money on it. It's hardly a broad exploration of the available options – at the very least he's blindly following his emotional reactions.

      March 29, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
  15. Shorn

    It astounds me that people speak of their "faith" the way they talk about sports teams. They chose a Jesuit and you cheered? The Catholic church is rotten to the core and no Pope, Jesuit or otherwise, is going to change anything. It's people like you who continue to support it – you are the problem. Have a nice day.

    March 29, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      Say, there's an idea. Have the Boston Catholics play the Atlanta Baptists and see whose God wins most often. Then have that team play the Muslims for supremacy. We could have a sports champion and an omnipotent being at the same time.

      March 29, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
  16. Pat

    Welcome back!

    March 29, 2013 at 2:19 pm |

    • It's Pat!

      March 29, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
  17. The real Tom

    @The real tard:

    You apparently take this place seriously. You must be really stupid.

    March 29, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
    • @The real Tard

      shoo fly, dont bother me

      March 29, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Aww, too embarrassed to use your "real" name, dear?

      You are an asshat.

      March 29, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
  18. Patrish

    One doesn't have to go to church to do good deeds, or behave kindly, nor does one even need to believe in a God.

    March 29, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
    • FAithful

      You do not have to go to church to do good deeds, behave kindly, nor to believe in God, but it helps immesurably. Church gives me a place among friends who are all trying to do good in this world, and in our community (not just within the church). Attending services that remind me of the wisdom in the teachings of Jesus and his disciples refreshes my desire to do and be good, and always gives me examples by which to live, sometimes in the sermons, Scripture or the hymns, and often through sharing in the lives of those with whom I share my faith.

      March 29, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
    • Alias

      you don't have toi be a priest to get away with touching children either, but it helps immeasurably.

      March 29, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • Bill

      No, but you have to have a certain philosophy on life.... and if your philosophy is based on doing good, loving others, mercy, forgiveness, self-lessness, grace and caring for those in need, I'm not sure why you wouldnt follow Jesus.He taught only those things.

      March 29, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Bill, I think we read different bibles.

      "If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters–yes, even their own life–such a person cannot be my disciple."

      March 29, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      There was a recent study showing that giving criminals religion just resulted in religious criminals. "Jesus understands why I have to pimp women, because Jesus and I are homies." "I know it was wrong of me to murder those guys, but I still expect to see Jesus in heaven when I die." And so on.

      March 29, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • Atheist, me?

      sara
      If you are going to be a Nationalist, racist, sectarian, parochialist and nepotistic then you have no part being a little Christ.
      That is the meaning of that verse in context. That said are you sure you don't fall somewhere in there? If you love your neighbor as yourself the Bible makes sense.

      March 29, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Atheist, me?,

      I've read it in context – you're have to be pretty creative to come up with those justifications. But they you have to be pretty creative to live life ignoring half the bible.

      March 29, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
    • Which God?

      Hey Am. Still loving yourself? You do realize that all you name calling isn't loving Sar. In fact you are being demeaning to women. Such a sin. Go. Repent. Stick you head in a bucket of water three times, and pull it out twice. There, you are saved ( from being such a moronic fukking twit of a man).

      March 29, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
    • Atheist, me?

      Sara
      What is"hate your own life" in the quote? Creativity and ignoring half the Bible you say.
      It was when I learnt that the contemporary psychology which says loving yourself is unhealthy at first hand that I understood this verse.
      Loving your neighbor as yourself is true self esteem. Loving yourself is just pride. Why should I do it?

      March 29, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • Atheist, me?

      Which God?
      Name calling??? You are sure contextual reading is for you? If you just did the "I love you as myself" meditation your intellectual prowess will grow!

      March 29, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • The real Tom

      One would think that AM had discovered some new planet or something, the amount of breast-beating he does over a few words he didn't even make up.

      March 29, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
    • Atheist, me?

      Ms Tom
      In case you don't know it is not about me making them up, hearing them or writing them. It is about me striving to fit that ideal and in the process discovering the essence of life.

      March 29, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Atheist, me? Are you confusing me with someone with whome you had another conversation? I've never discussed "loving yourself" in my life.

      Go ahead and run with your interpretation if it makes you happy. I'm glad you're all for peace and love whatever the bible really says.

      March 29, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
    • The real Tom

      AM, I don't care what it is, other than the fact that you seem unable to engage in it silently.

      March 29, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
    • Atheist, me?

      Oh Sara how can I forget you? lol
      You postulated a theory that says we intentionally ignore the Bible's teachings to allow our religion room to look nice.
      All I was pointing out to you was that the essence of the Bible is the Great Commandment found in Lev 19:18.
      That is the burden laid on us by the Bible. Everything else to quote one ancient rabbi,"is just commentary".
      So I don't need to form a new interpretation. It is an interpretation which is obvious to anyone reading the Bible like a story book rather than just selecting verses and passages.

      March 29, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
  19. Bible Clown©

    Just go to a Chick-Fil-A. Same as going to church, I hear.

    March 29, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
    • palintwit

      Why is it that every time someone mentions Chick-Fil-A I am reminded of toothless inbred teabillies ?

      March 29, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • JB

      Because in your world, cut-rate ad hominems and simplistic analogies suffice for thought.

      March 29, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
    • Which God?

      Now that was truly phunny!

      March 29, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
  20. Wendy

    Thank you Brian for sharing your thoughtful, heartfelt story. I'm not Catholic nor a Jesuit, but I very much appreciate your column.

    March 29, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • brianspadora

      Thanks very much, Wendy. I am glad you enjoyed it.

      March 29, 2013 at 11:09 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.