I never really understood the faith when I was a kid. I grew up in it. That was all. I was raised Catholic, and that was as much as I knew. I didn’t really understand what made the faith so special and so necessary in life. I was naïve to the true presence, the ultimate importance of the sacraments, and going to Church was just a chore that mom made us do; but some days we could miss it if we were too tired. Yeah… major fail, right? It goes on! My understandings of the sacraments were just textbook definitions that really didn’t demonstrate their importance. Prayers were just memorized. There was little to no heartfelt praise within school or the family for the faith. I do put some blame on the school system for the lack of a truly alive faith.
In the 6th grade and on, I began to rely on God for some kind of answer. I wanted a release from people, from pain of the world. That was the year I decided to be a nun, and much later that I wanted to be a mother. I discuss this change in my previous post, “In Pursuit of Chastity”. In grade 7 I joined the choir at the church and became a little more excited about the faith. Praise and worship and being part of a group were helping me to feel the Lords presence. I was on a slow uphill to a revelation.
Then grade 8 showed up and I plunged into a depression where I prayed for God to kill me. Yes, I prayed, with tears in my eyes that God would kill me so I wouldn’t have to and that I would be safe, at peace, and loved. I was completely alone and I felt abandoned by my friends as they moved on into high school before me. I had no one to love me, and I felt that I couldn’t offer enough to people. I felt so small and unimportant that I thought He was the only one that would possibly love me. I feel that I understood that the Lord had that power and He could do just about anything. What I didn’t understand was that He had plans for me, and was calling to me to find a hope and love in Him.
In high school, I continued to struggle with my depression. I had to see a social worker by my own choice in order to have some form of closure. My family went through significant emotional trauma. My sister at the age of 16 got pregnant. My mom, thinking she had taught us the importance of marriage and sexual morality, felt heartbroken. We all did. We were heartbroken and scared. I couldn’t talk about it to anyone, so I relied on God and my writing to my future spouse to help me find purpose. I prayed still for God’s presence. I prayed for love in a way He planned out. I was getting a little closer. I prayed for chastity, for healing, and strength. I prayed for understanding.
It wasn’t until university that I found I was not only challenged in the faith, but I also grew spiritually. Starting my relationship with Mike was the beginning for me. In friendship and in a courting relationship, I learned more about my value. I learned about love, about what the faith was meant to be, how to live the faith, and how powerful it was. He introduced me to Chris and Julie (the other members of Team Orthodoxy), and I began to learn so much about my faith and I fell in love with it.
I began to recognize the power and sanctity of the sacraments. Their importance boggled my mind. God was really working in my life. My eyes were being opened to the crises that surrounded me and also the ones in my own heart. I had to start thinking more critically of my life and what I was doing. Being a Catholic was harder than I thought it was. By that, I mean actually practicing the faith and standing firm in the beliefs.
Even in my own family, I can see that being a Catholic doesn’t really hold as much significance in their lives as it does in mine. I know about the Eucharist, Adoration, Confession, and the Sacrament of Marriage in ways that I attempt to explain to family members, but often it falls on deaf ears or they take the modernist secular approach to the teachings of the Church rather than accept them as truth (ie: reinterpret them to suit their own desires).
As part of Team Orthodoxy, I always keep in mind that being a Catholic is hard. In a world that really wants to tear down the Church, I have learned that I need to hold my ground firmly. Being part of Team Orthodoxy has been one of the greatest contributions to my faith today, along with the help of Christ and with prayer. Friendships focused on Christ and getting each other to Heaven taught me to not only love myself, but to allow God to love and to be open in allowing Him to do whatever He desires to do in my life.