I have discussed, in the past, my faith, as it relates to the Christmas season. Recently, it has been on my mind again, as I navigate my way through life and think about the role God has in it. Therefore, I thought maybe now was a good time to examine once again what is going on my spiritual life and what Catholicism means to me.
Before Bill and I got married, we were required to attend three Pre-Cana sessions. Basically, these are the Catholic church’s version of marriage classes. Like we do with many things, Bill and I procrastinated about these and found ourselves at the eleventh hour, with our wedding just about a month away, starting our Pre-Cana journey. The program was divided into three different sessions. In the first one, we did a marriage inventory that our priest later used to discuss with us how well suited we were for marriage to one another. We scored well, I am happy to say! We then spent the three sessions discussing things like money, sex, natural family planning, communication, and other hot-button issues that newly married couples face. When we went into our first Pre-Cana, I was less than enthusiastic about it, thinking that it would be a waste of time. Within the first session, I knew I was wrong.
Our sessions were led by a variety of Catholic couples from the sponsoring church. Going into it, I expected that these would all be bland, boring couples who have gone to church every Sunday for their entire lives and never questioned their Catholic faith. It turned out that this was not so. One of the first people to speak spoke of her conversion from Judaism to Christianity to Catholicism. Another couple spoke of leaving the Church for several years, only to return when they had children. And another spoke of their marriage falling apart, a time in which they leaned on their faith, and their eventual reconciliation and happiness with a marriage centered around their faith.
I was floored. Within one session, I knew I was not the only Catholic out there who wanted to be a good Catholic and a good Christian but didn’t always know how. By the end of the final session, Bill and I spoke of seeking out an opportunity to someday become involved in Pre-Cana in our own church. It was that powerful of an experience for us.
However, soon real life got in my way. I was still in school, and that meant that every Sunday, I was either working or at clinicals. I didn’t have time to go to church. And like has always happened in the past, the further I got from church, the further I got from God. My belief in God is constant and true…however, my daily interactions with Him had dwindled.
In the last month, I have found myself in a Catholic church for a funeral and then for a wedding. It was while sitting at my friend’s funeral, mourning someone who died too young, with people of all faiths surrounding me, that I realized just how meaningful it was to me to be Catholic. Listening to those of us who were Catholic sing all the hymns and lining up with those who shared my faith to take Communion reminded me the powerful bond we share as Catholics . The comfort I took from the rituals and the traditions of the Catholic church were a powerful reminder to me of what my faith means to me. I left that day, sad for our loss, but renewed in my faith.
This past weekend, I was the matron of honor in my sister-in-law’s wedding. She married a man who is not Catholic, so his side of the church was filled mostly with people who were not familiar with the service and not able to take Communion and not able to understand just what all that ritual means. Again, I felt a strong bond with those who shared my beliefs, and I felt pride in knowing that I was part of such a strong family of believers who had as a bond their Catholic faith.
Now, I go forward, with a renewed conviction to attend Mass and a renewed desire to become involved in my church. Instead of having church be an afterthought that I fit in when I have the time, I would like to make it a priority, making an honest effort to attend most Sundays, unless some major happening is keeping me from it. And although I don’t know that I have it in me to go to Confession, which means that I am not as true a Catholic as I should be, I feel good knowing that there is a place for me in church and that God is listening to me. In return, I will be listening to Him, and I will try to do His work in the every day.