“Not all those who wander are lost.”

In J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Gandalf uses these words to describe Strider, the suspicious ranger in the corner at the Inn of the Prancing Pony. As a young “roaming Catholic,” I find reassurance in the wizard’s words, because they point to the reality that there is freedom in adherence to the truth; and once someone has found the truth his journey has only begun.

Many young adult Catholics do their own soul searching and often leave the Church in the process. Usually I find these brothers and sisters to be more virtuous than I; but I’m saddened by their expectation that they’ll find something better than Catholicism somewhere out there. How can I know that there isn’t anything better? It’s kind of like when you meet the love of your life and everything starts to come together. In finding her you find yourself, and all the world just starts to make sense. Then you can begin your true life journey. There’s nothing complicated about a husband’s love for his wife, or about a Catholic’s love of the Church. In fact, there’s nothing more human than to give one’s all for such love.

I was raised Catholic, went to public school, and attended Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. In college I learned something that has taken me the past six years to prove to people. I do not believe what Catholicism teaches simply because it is my heritage, or because I seek some kind of well-intended piety. I believe what the Church teaches because it is practical and fulfilling, even for a young adult who needs to experience life to the fullest.

The journey I will take my readers on in this column will venture everywhere from downtown samba clubs to high desert cattle ranches. I’ll share everyday practical wisdom while also daring to explore the mysteries of Catholicism, because to capture what it’s like to be a young Catholic in today’s world we need to go everywhere and experience just about everything. I want to debunk the common belief that young Catholics have to leave their religion in order to explore the world over and complete the mystical, elusive soul search. Only a fool would go on a journey somewhere without getting some kind of direction from those who have traveled there before them; and no matter how distant the frontier or peculiar the belief, great Catholics have been there and have drawn a map.

As we brave the rough waters of postmodern society together, I invite my readers to take confidence in this well-built bark of Peter, this bulwark of faith we call the Catholic Church. We will not stay put and watch the world develop around us like many on the outside looking in may think Catholics do. We’re going to explore all cultures of today’s world, all of the deep chasms of human knowledge, and every desire that has entered the heart of a generation which has been pulled in every direction – without ever really being given direction – while being told “going your own way” is the path to freedom. Just about everyone on the highway to the city is trying to create their own path in life, and they wind up getting stuck in traffic jams – literally and figuratively speaking. I’m going to take you on a little back road I know. It’s been called the narrow Way. It’s rugged and traveled by few, but it leads to eternal happiness and provides one heck of a scenic route, hitting all the best spots, along the real Path of Life.

Kilby is co-founder of Rambling Spirit magazine and www.ramblingspirit.com, a Catholic multimedia community for those who seek.