Tuesday, September 25, 2007

La Fe de Costa Rica

I'm sitting here trying really hard to write a paper and as always, I got nothing in my head to say. Which is surprising because my paper is supposed to be about Catholicism in Costa Rican society. In truth, the difficulty in comparison comes from the fact that their faith practices are not much different than ours. The only thing that throws them under the "blind follower" category is the fact that it is much more obvious and frequent here where literally, everyone, goes to Catholic church and Catholicism is the state religion. But aren't we criticized at home by fellow Christians as being "blind followers?" Are we not also viewed as a church lacking in relationships with Christ and as a church that follows traditions and simply goes through the motions without any thought as to what we are doing.

That's bad, you know. Thats not good to not think about what you are doing when you are saying the right responses at the right time, sitting, standing, kneeling, hands up, hands down, hold hands, shake hands, close eyes, bow heads, response, prayer, amen. I'm lost. So here I am writing a paper about Catholicism in Costa Rica. I'm about to comment on how so many Ticos go to church, but so many also appear to actually have a relationship with Christ. So what's the comparison with home? There is none. They get up every Sunday and go to church. The more passionate ones say prayers before meals and bedtime, sometimes a rosary and occasionally go to daily mass if they aren't doing anything.

Then there are people like you and I and other people I'm sure. People who truly love Christ. People who Love Him because of His sacrifice, people who pursue Him because of His infinite mercy, people who walk confidently and compassionately because of the love He gives so freely. We know this, we love this, we find that we can no longer live without it. And when we try, we fail and come crawling quickly back home where we know we will be embraced. And we do all this as Catholics with all the sit, stand, kneel, sing, shake and hold hands, responses, and songs, amen. What I can't understand, however, is why? Why do these Costa Ricans do any of it? Why do so many Catholics or Protestants for that matter, do any of it? What is the freaking point if you can’t find any joy in the faith that you have. And YES THEY DO HAVE FAITH. Just because it is different and very much unlike yours and ours it is faith. They do realize that they are sinful, that Christ died for them, that they have to follow Christ to live with God eternally. But they know that truth in a very shallow way and it is just enough for them to keep going. To keep praying and confessing and trucking on because they believe in heaven and hell and they don't want hell. Is it wrong? How can it be?

Look at how it affects their lives. THEY HAVE NO ARMY! They have great social services and schools. They are so kind and polite and love filled. With every thank you I receive a "with much pleasure." With every question I receive a graceful answer. And do they ever think about it? NO! If you asked them why they were so kind and why it was so easy to be rude here but no matter how rude you are they will never stop smiling at you and inviting you into their homes, they would probably tell you that it is because that is just the way Costa Ricans are. Which is true. It is the way Costa Ricans are because they are Catholic. The Church is their official religion. They practice it fervently even if it is blindly. “My God Go with you!” “In God we Trust.” “How did you rise?” “Very well, thanks to God.” “Mother prayer for us. My God pray for us. Saint Ramon, Pray for us.” They need to pray, they want to pray, they childishly trust in the Catholic Church, their faith since they were born, their ancestor's faith. It is amazing to me. Even those that go to church twice a year, they behave the same, they still have Rosaries in their cars, they still have saints in their homes and statues of Mary in their yards.

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