Slovakia vs. America!

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By Sarah Strba, Columnist

During my annual trip to Slovakia to visit family, I’ve noticed many things about the rich Catholic culture here. Some include the way people perceive religion, how church is different in the Mass, and tradition.

In Slovakia, it is apparent that many people are religious. I noticed that a lot of people wear crosses on their neck, even if it was just at the pool or in a day out with friends. It made me happy that people are proud of their relationship with God. I’m not saying that in America we aren’t proud, but in Slovakia it is just more obvious who is religious and who is not. Also, in America, we have a much more diverse population which comes with many different religions. In Slovakia, however, more than half of the population is Roman Catholic.

In church, it was much more crowded than when I usually come to mass back in Oregon.
Everyone was singing and it felt very alive. Another thing I thought was interesting was that not everyone got up to get communion. When I asked my mom about this, she explained to me that the people sitting down do not feel worthy enough to consume the body and blood of Christ because they are in a state of sin. And not just mortal sin, but something simple like missing mass or arguing with someone. It was something I totally forgot about because everyone in my local Church gets up to receive the Eucharist. My favorite part of the mass was when the Sisters came with orphans to church. It is sad to think that someone is growing up without their parents but I think the sisters offer them so much by teaching them about the love and light that Jesus shares with us, because with that comes hope for them and their future.

Another thing I want to briefly talk about is how much more traditional it is over in Slovakia. Obviously, the church I attended was much older, especially in appearance. In fact, it was built in the 1600’s! The architecture was very old and detailed, and the church had beautiful paintings of stuff like angels, heaven, and saints on the walls and ceilings. It was also more traditional in the sense of how the Mass was run. For example, they had altar servers, but only young men were altar servers: there were no women.

Overall, there are many differences in the faith people display in Slovakia versus back home in Oregon. I am not saying one is better than the other, but I have noticed a strong presence of Catholicism in Slovakia that I am now able to take with me back home.

-Sarah Strba, Columnist

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