Don’t tell God, but I might have to skip church today. It’s Sunday night and I’m desperately trying to finish my homework. No time for worship, only time to desperately search the Internet for homework answers. The only reason I’m still considering going to mass is the free cookies. As a college student, free food is always appealing. With a minute to spare I grab my shoes and hustle to hear the word of God. Mostly though, for the free cookies. I don’t think I’m alone in the constant struggle of prioritizing God. Especially when it comes to millennials, here in Spain I’ve experienced the disconnect first hand.
Every Sunday I see very few individuals my age at church. Everyone is either ten years younger or thirty years older. Maybe I’m going to the wrong churches or maybe I’m just bad at guessing people’s ages. Either way I can’t ignore the age gap any longer. At school, I go to mass close to campus and there’s plenty of people my age. Let’s be honest, probably for the cookies. At home, there’s plenty of families and a wide age range. But here? Where my millennials at!? I know Spain has an aging population but I’ve seen hundreds of young children doing first communion. Where are all the kiddos going!?
Instead of looking for the best food Spain offers, I took an alternative route. Accompanied by my good friend and colleague, Jasleen Karir, we were on the hunt for where there was a lack of food. Like any community around the world Spain also has struggles with hunger. Unlike other places around the world, they do a great job feeding their hungry people. While in Bilbao I visited a soup kitchen, San Antonio De Iralabarri. Antonio Perez, the head of the organization, took the time to show us around and tell us all about what they do. All the food is donated except the meat and fish and they have over 80 volunteers each week. Due to this generosity people can eat until they’re full and then take more food to go. My heart was full watching the people fill their stomachs. Moments before serving the food Perez told me about the soup kitchen’s mission, serving Jesus by serving His people pasta. A silly catch-phrase on the surface becomes beautiful when watching hungry mouths be fed. While we were unable to film everyone eating due to legal issues, we were lucky enough to get clips of the behind the scenes set-up and clean-up.
Many thanks to Antonio Perez, Comedor San Antonio De Iralabarri, and Jasleen Karir for helping make this video possible!
Shivering, cold, and sitting on a hard-wooden pew, I checked my watch once again. How much longer would I have to sit here? A mere four rows of pews ahead of me and one behind. All filled with people, people much more joyful to be there than me. The stone walls were making it feel like I was sitting inside of an ice box. A dinky hand-carved crucifix was hanging from the uneven stone. Parishioners filed in all looking at me intrigued by my presence. Slightly annoyed, I stared right back. Quietly observing as every single one of them greeted each other by name. They asked about their weeks, their families, and greeted each other like friends going to see a movie. And there I was, sitting down next to Ana, a cold outsider trying to take it all in. Continue reading
My faith. My career goals. Two totally different things, right? It seems impossible that religion and the workplace would have anything in common. Religion is what makes someone who they are and work is just what they do. In Spain, it’s a different story. In Spain, there’s Cáritas. Cáritas is the Spanish version of Catholic Charities, an organization that develops all the charity activities of the church. María Vivancos is the manager of this great treasure here in León. As the manager and member of a strong community María says, “when you see somebody having a bad time or suffering right next to you, you do not pass”. Most of the individuals involved are volunteers, around 95-97%, leaving María in the other 3-5%. María does a lot of the behind the scenes work, while the volunteers get to be out in the field. Continue reading
Reach for your phone and call up Jesus, this catholic girl might just be a sinner. Why? Because continually when November rolls around I vote pro-choice. Call me a hypocrite, call me a fake, but sometimes morals and ethics clash. With a torn heart, I firmly believe that we are called to love everyone, women and babies alike, and being forced to choose between the two seems cruel. In some aspect, the two sides of the issue aren’t in opposition at all; one is a moral argument against the killing of the innocent and one an ethical argument of not telling others what to do with their bodies.
Morals are a personal compass of what’s right and wrong, it’s individual and internal. Ethics are rules of conduct recognized by society or a class of people, and are dependent on others for a definition. The majority of the time the two closely align but occasionally, they are opposing forces. One can follow ethical principles without having morals and a moral person can follow ethics in cases where morals may not fit. This is the exact conundrum I, the United States, and Spain face when it comes to abortion. Spain is a nation that is built on the tradition of the church but is full of liberally minded individuals. Almost identical to the bewilderment I feel while deciding where I stand, Spain is a nation torn by the face off between ethical and moral beliefs. Continue reading
In the sky, in the sea, in our heads, in our feet. Where is our God? People travel the world looking for what may or may not be found. People travel the world and find things they didn’t know they were looking for. Spain is filled with the most beautiful cathedrals. People searching for God or simply seeking beauty make trips just to marvel at the angelic (quite literally!) architecture. Every time I step foot inside a church I find myself interacting with and observing people from around the globe. People on the hunt to see the best churches in the world.
Emily Bucher (left) and her mother Dawn Bucher (right) visiting the Almudena Cathedral in Madrid, Spain.
A cute bunny that sneaks into your house and fills baskets with chocolate. Hooded processionals through the streets and fiestas until the sun comes up. It seems impossible that both of these could celebrate the same holiday. A holiday rooted in religion and lost in tradition. A holiday that in the United States lasts one day for most, is a holiday in Spain that lasts ten glorious days for all. In Spain, Holy Week and Easter take on a whole new meaning.
People in Spain look forward to Semana Santa like Americans look forward to Christmas or summer vacation. Semana Santa simply means “holy week” in Spanish. Holy week is a celebration of the last week of Jesus’s life, his death, and his resurrection. Christians throughout the world celebrate the holiday, but depending on where you are it looks slightly different. In Spain, Easter isn’t about bunnies and colorful eggs but rather slightly creepy yet beautiful processionals and fiestas.