by Ethan Mack
A good friend once posed a simple question to me that, too my shock, I was completely unable to answer: “What is Christianity?” My immediate reply was the obvious one: “It’s a religion.” But even as I said it, I knew that was not the answer he was looking for. He didn’t want me to categorize Christianity; he wanted me to define it. After a few minutes sitting in silence, I still had no answer. Eventfully he gave me the answer that should have been obvious but somehow wasn’t: “Christianity is a relationship”.
He was right of course. Christianity is a relationship and one that we are abundantly blessed to take part in. However, it is unlike most relationships that we build throughout the course of our
life. In most of our relationships we are an equal party. For example, our friendships here at Boston College are relationships of equality. Even relationships that are commonly thought of
as unequal don’t remain so forever. As a child I was in no way the equal of my parents, but now, even though they still both surpass me in wisdom and experience, I am their equal in many
ways. Our relationship with God is not on a relationship of equals, and yet, in a special way, it is made equal by the self-emptying love of Christ. This makes it unlike any other
relationship we experience. A priest from my parish said it best during his homily on Christmas Eve when he stated, “God became man, so that man could become God.” Christianity puts us in the
place of the dorky underclassman who somehow is going to the prom with the most beautiful girl in the school. While everybody (including the boy) would see the boy as a lucky kid way out of his
league, the girl believes that she is the luckiest girl in the world. The total and complete love of God allows us to enter into a relationship with a reality so beyond every capacity and power
But given all that, what does this relationship with God entail? What should we be doing on our end? The most immediate answer should come as no surprise: remain close to the sacraments. The sacraments are the most direct conduits of God’s grace that can be found anywhere. They are absolutely indispensable in growing our relationship with God. In our time here at BC, the sacraments we should be immediately concerning ourselves with are the Eucharist and Confession. There are so many opportunities here at BC to attend Mass. Off the top of my head I can think of 8 Masses on any given Sunday and 5 daily Masses Monday through Friday. We will not have anywhere near this much opportunity for Mass after we graduate, so it is important that we take advantage of it while we can. Confession is offered twice every weekday (11:45am-12:00 Saint Mary’s Chapel, 9:40pm-10:00 Saint Joseph’s Chapel). I understand that many Catholics of my generation are uncomfortable with the idea of confession, but its importance really can’t be stressed enough. I’m convinced there is no place on earth where one can experience healing more powerful than in the confessional. There are times when we screw up in this relationship. We suddenly forget how incredibly blessed we are and think ourselves masters instead of servants. These moments require that we ask for God’s forgiveness and mercy. Christianity, this relationship we desperately want to develop and deepen, is not reducible to the sacraments; however, it is by my estimation the best place to start.