Hunger of Memory: Religion Rodriguez is very open about Catholicism and the identities and views that he has had in his life both as a child and now as an adult. He begins by explaining how as a child, the Church had a profound impact on his everyday life. The Church had “an extraordinarily physical presence” in Rodriguez’s early life as he had a church and a catholic school both within one block in either direction of his home (Rodriguez pg 85). As a young boy, Rodriguez’s first taste of church was through a small wooden church across town where mass was done all in Spanish.
At this stage of his life, Rodriguez still felt alienated by “los gringos” and maintained that public and private life should be kept separated. But as Rodriguez assimilated in the classroom as a child, he also realized that the church “provided an essential link between the two worlds of my life” (Pg. 87). No longer did he see his family as “catolicos” but he “began to think of myself and my family as Catholics. The distinction blurred” (pg. 87).
It is here where we see the first time that Rodriguez finally begins to assimilate into society and start to relate more and identify himself in a more American way. As the years progressed, Rodriguez became more involved with the church as an altar boy and his academic life and church life were blended. This changed once Rodriguez went to high school, as he admits that he went to church less often. His view of the church also changed as he once saw it as very spiritual, but now saw that “religious instruction became rigorously intellectual” (Pg 110).
His identity as a Catholic who was similar to his parents (his view as a child) now changed as he came to the realization that “my parents assumed a Catholicism very different from mine. My parents seemed to me piously simple…unwilling to entertain intellectual challenges” (pg 110). Rodriguez’s views morphed into a very intellectual and studious view, once again altering his identity from when he was a child. Once in college, Rodriguez’s views on the church had changed even more as he admits that the church was no longer his “sole spiritual teacher”.
His connection with the church slowly dwindled as well as stopped going to confessional and began to go to his friends if he needed advice. However, Rodriguez continued to blend his catholic views with his intellectual readings on theology and really became a free thinker. Rodriguez admits that “education may have made it inevitable that I would become a citizen of the secular city, but I have come to embrace the city’s values. By choice I do not confine myself to Catholic society” (pg. 115).
This idea of free choice is ultimately where Rodriguez finds himself in his religious views. He is an individual who chooses what he wants to believe in, and it is part of his identity was an educated adult. Although many of his religious ideals as a child were lost due to the changing world around him, Rodriguez admits that he stills wishes that he could go back to the way the church was when he was a child. He “longed for the Latin mass” (pg. 112) as it was simplistic and as it focused on the individual rather than the group.
Rodriguez believes that ones relationship with God is at an individual level and that all the changes made in church are “aimed at serving Catholics who no longer live in a Catholic world” (pg. 113). As the times and church have changed, so has Rodriguez. He admits that he will continue to go to English mass but will recall the faith that he once had as a child. Rodriguez will “always be grateful to the church that took me so seriously and exposed me so early, through the liturgy, to the experience of life” (pg. 106). Rodriguez’s past and present are forever intertwined by this fact; his identity was formed by it.