In an increasingly pluralistic country, the shifting dynamics of a Catholic subculture and a changing understanding of what should be taught in religious education, young Catholic women, myself included, are cultivating and engaging in an expansive understanding of spirituality and religion -- that sometimes does and sometimes does not include Mass.
The Hoge study noted that study participants: "Many young adult Catholics link spirituality with social justice initiatives and service to the poor" (p. 169). Some might argue that, young women being overly-flexible, we border on what Hoge, in a different essay ("Religious Commitments of Young Adult Catholics"), worries can become "an enervating vagueness about what being a Catholic means." Sure, I readily admit, that is a danger. But the positive flip on such a self-description of spirituality is that young adult Catholics are actively claiming responsibility for our spiritual life. We are exploring Buddhist practices, wondering how meditation might be a part of Catholic life; we read Sufi, looking for more complex understandings of Islam than are readily available; and we engage in the parts of parish life that are life-giving.
Read earlier installments of Young Women & Catholicism --
- "In All Things,"on the unique identity of young Catholic women.
- "Young, Female, and Catholic," on the "Catholic glue"that keeps us in the Church.
- "Role Models," on the need for models of faith and service.
- "Defending the Saints," exploring the role of saints in the lives of Catholics.
Kate Dugan is a co-editor of From the Pews in the Back: Young Women & Catholicism and a Ph.D. student in Religious Studies at Northwestern University.