I am 100% Catholic, born and raised. I believe in what the Church believes. My faith is built upon its teachings, liturgies, doctrines, and all of its wonderful services. I have never missed mass my entire life. My parents were always so strict about missing mass, and although I found it a chore to go to mass despite not understanding what the mass is all about. I now know and understand why my parents were being strict about it. Come to think of it, I have been exposed to Jesus for the entirety of my life (appreciate them strict Catholic parents!) You’re probably thinking if this’ll be another life conversion story, where the writer falls in love with the Church. No. I didn’t fall in love with the Church. I didn’t fall in love with its teachings, or with the gospels, homilies… or priests. I didn’t. (Although that came after...) First, I simply learned… to serve.
At this point I’ve probably lost some of my readers, because frankly… most of us think that going to mass is enough. MOST OF US, IF NOT ALL OF US, THINK THAT BEING GOOD IS ENOUGH! (Sorry for the caps I got excited.) I don’t blame you, because for the most part of my life, I thought it was enough too. I’m a cradle Catholic, and that probably is one of my biggest advantage and/or disadvantage of my faith life. You see… we can be Catholic by birth from the Sacrament of Baptism, we can attend mass every Sunday and receive the Holy Eucharist, or go to confession every Lent. We experience all these Catholic celebrations, and think that it’s simply enough. Often we live our lives just trying to get by, just trying to make the right choices for our well being, and consider our life to be well put. We don’t seem to want to look for answers and meaning. We don’t seem to want to fill the void in our hearts–that void being Jesus. A priest once said in his homily, “We, Catholics are scared to learn more about our faith, scared to discover the teachings of the Church, because we know that when we start to know more about the genius of Catholicism…. it starts to become more difficult.” We pretend to be ignorant, because we want our faith life to be easy. Jesus didn’t say that our journey will be easy. It’s not in the Bible! We just know, quoted in several verses in the Bible, that He will be with us, that He will be our strength, and that nothing cannot separate us from Him.
Having faith is a blessing from God. Acting on that faith is grace. Learn more about Jesus. Read the Bible. Read Catholic books. Read your Church bulletins, read The Carillon. Read about the Saints. Read about Mary. Pray to Mary. Pray, pray, pray. Always pray. One minute prayer time? Fine, just don’t forget to pray. Serve the Church, be a reader, be a eucharistic minister, join the choir. Have a spiritual relationship with your priest. Join a lay community. And love. Always love. One of Mother Teresa’s famous quotes, “Faith in action is love– and love in action is service.”