By Laura Gomez
God transforms our suffering and gives our entire existence a purpose: to fulfill our call to love, who is God himself.
As a cradle Catholic, my faith has always been a central part of my life, but it took me too long to understand what our call to holiness really demands. I grew up in a loving, conservative household where our Catholic faith guided our daily lives. At a very early age, my parents would take my brother and I at the break of dawn to pray the rosary before Sunday mass. We watched practically every saint movie there was and read Catholic books in our spare time. As I grew older however, I became more and more exposed to many temptations of the world, and I was left with heartbreak and regret.
Like many other freshmen, I went into college in search for things that would make me happy, at least for a little while. I still went to Sunday mass, prayed regularly, and thought of myself as a “decent Catholic.” After all, I did not see anybody around me doing anything differently anyway. On second thought I did, but their lifestyle seemed too “extreme” and “boring” to me at the time. I sought peace in all of the wrong places and two years later, I found myself filled with nothing but emptiness and regret. I lost everything I had, including the people I thought of to be my friends, and the “control” I thought I once had turned out to be insecurity all along. I had hoped to live a life of holiness and joy and instead found myself in an abyss of self-destruction.
Nonetheless, God continues to prove to us that He keeps His promise of love and like a loving father, He does not give up on us no matter how far off we may have strayed. Jesus came to pick me up from the lowliest of failures, from my pain, suffering, and emptiness, and called me to be a participant of His love. It is true, I never really left my faith, but God’s call to holiness requires us to give our entire selves to Him, loving him wholeheartedly. It means dying to ourselves and willing only what God wills, loving Him through our joys and sufferings.
Moving to a new city gave me the opportunity to start over. In the solitude of my new beginnings, I started spending my time studying about God and the Catholic Church. After all, I had never thought twice about the words I regularly recited at mass or asked myself why I believed in what I believed in. It had almost become repetitive. I quickly realized how much I didn’t understand about the Church, about scripture, and even about how to properly live my faith. What purpose did the books like Numbers or Ezra serve anyway? Why is the mass so misunderstood? Why does the Church teach sex to be a sacramental bond to be shared only in Holy matrimony? I had never really explored the roots of Catholicism deeply enough on my own, and my heart wanted answers. I started reading books about Theology, writings by the Church Fathers, and using as many media resources as I could such as podcasts and youtube videos to help me answer those questions. I found that the more I kept on reading and learning, my thirst of knowledge increased, and the more I fell in love with our dear Jesus.
We can experience ultimate freedom when we come to know truth. Once I came to know this truth, I felt an inexplicable calling from God to change the way I had been living my life. I came to learn that the rules that He sets for us are not repressive of our freedom but an even greater manifestation of His love. The more I learned about God and His original intention with humanity, the true purpose for what we are created for and who we are meant to live our lives for became much clearer.
It is so important to really get to know Jesus and the beauty of our Catholic Church to fall in love with our Father. Many leave the Church because they do not strive to learn the teachings of Christ thoroughly through His institution of the Church. How do you fall in love in with someone if not by getting to know them better? The teachings of our church are so wholesome that they are also quite complex, which is why any one of us with little knowledge about it can become confused by them. When we get to know Christ and His teachings more in depth, we will want nothing more but to love Him in return.
There is no greater joy than falling in love with Jesus Christ. There is so much yet to learn and discover about God’s love and exceeding mercy towards us all. By the grace of God we can come to see the truth and beauty about becoming who God created us all to be. We can come to experience the peace that comes by having Jesus as the center our lives and grasping the wholesome teachings of the Church that can answer the questions we once asked. We can come to understand that as daughters of the Almighty we are worthy of nothing less than extraordinary and all of which uplifts our dignity as women. We can learn that the standards we set for ourselves in the way we live and the choices we make should be guided by the Holy Spirit dwelling in us to reflect the trinitarian love God calls us to be a part of. Jesus redeemed me and you from our sins so that we may have the chance to spend eternity with Him in Heaven.
God’s promise is so real and beautiful it is beyond our comprehension. How could we say no this everlasting love? It is inevitable that we will continue to fall, and by our own merits, we are, and can do nothing. To our advantage however, we have the whole Heavenly Kingdom willing to help us fight our spiritual battles. I pray that we may become valiant women with a fire to love God with all that we have-body and soul, leaving nothing behind.
“Let us go forward in peace, our eyes fixed upon Heaven, the only one goal of our labors”. -St Therese of Lisieux.