My mum once told me that you know a religion is strong when you can have a good laugh at it. I think she told me this while we were discussing the virtues of Monty Python’s Life of Brian, as the credits rolled down the screen with that immortal message to always look on the bright side of life ringing in our ears. While most of what we were talking about has been lost to the ages, that simple phrase has always stuck with me. I’ve been Catholic all my life. I was baptised Catholic, I was raised Catholic and I was dragged to Mass as a Catholic child should be. I have to confess however, I never really saw the appeal of going to Mass for an hour every Sunday (actually it was more like an hour and three quarters when you factor in how long my Mum talked afterwards). I always saw Mass as a chore - just another blockade in my quest to ignore homework and watch trashy TV. Yet as I’ve grown up and (dare I say it) matured slightly I’ve begun to slowly realise the importance that Mass has in our lives. Father John, our director here at Castlerigg Manor, begins every Mass with the school groups by commenting on the significance of people coming together for Mass. It’s the fact that Mass brings together different people from all walks of life, united in the shared love of Christ. At the end of Mass we are told to go out and spread the Gospel in our lives, to all the people we meet and through way we treat them. I’ve met some of my oldest and dearest friends through going to Mass every Sunday. Going to Mass has taught me not to be afraid of people, and to love and respect people no matter what their age or background. My faith in Christ, and my faith in people has oft times been strengthened purely through the conversations and chance meetings I’ve had with other people. One such person I met at the back of church. I was late and so I had no choice but to stand at the back. We began talking (after Mass, of course) and I got to know him better, we ended up talking about our views on Catholicism and I remember him saying to me “Mass is a Celebration, we’re celebrating Jesus’ life, we’re celebrating our faith, we’re celebrating our community. We only have one chance on Earth, let’s be happy, let’s be thankful, let’s enjoy our faith, enjoy each other, let’s have a laugh”. 

 Tom, 18, Castlerigg Manor – Keswick