I grew up in a very Catholic household; I was baptized, made my first communion, made confessions, and attended Catholic school all as a young child. During this time, I believed in my faith because of what my parents and teachers taught me, both in actions and words. Through them I was made aware that God existed.
I do have a few vivid memories of being aware of his presence on my own accord. When I was about fourteen, the relics of Saint Therese of Lisieux came to a parish near mine. I went with my mom and my sister to venerate them. I remember seeing such strong piety in the other people there and how the people admired such a saint. I felt the presence of God in that place as if God was right there remembering the good qualities of Therese just as we were. From this, I became conscious of how saints were admired for their holiness and that I wanted to be like them too.
Seeing the relics of Saint Therese was a powerful experience, but I would have to say, without a doubt, that the biggest change in my faith life came when I went to a TEC (Teens Encounter Christ) retreat. My best word to describe what this retreat was for me is “catalyst” because it was the spark that ignited my passion for Christ and my desire to become more active in practicing my faith. Before this retreat, my faith life relied very much on my parents, after the retreat I developed a strong sense of ownership of my faith and recognized how much, in fact, that I needed Christ to be a major part of my life. I did have incredible spiritual experiences there, but what lasts until this day is how I am now walking towards God on my own instead of riding on my parent’s coat-tails.
About half a year after the TEC retreat, I was confirmed and became a full member of the Church. Confirmation was another exiting time for me because it was the official way of recognizing how I want to live in the Catholic faith of my own desire.
I think that my faith life can be compared to the part in the story of the Agony of the Garden when Jesus asked the apostles to stay awake and pray for an hour, but when he comes back they are asleep.Like the apostles, I have not wandered away from Christ; I have good intentions to follow Christ, but sometimes I fall asleep and let other things come before Christ.Then he has to come and wake me, and I once again have to refocus my sight on Jesus.
It would help me to refocus when I would go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation.Confessing my sins gave me a feeling of freedom and an open mind and heart again made clean for the Lord.I also have a daily prayer book that, more often than not, contains a prayer that specifically could be applied for an event that happened that day. These daily prayers helped keep my focus on God.
After confirmation, I continued to grow in my faith and brought it to college with me. Practicing my faith in college actually allowed me to meet my fiancé, Jon, at the church on campus, where we both currently work in the parish. Every week, I learn a little more about my faith, and I still feel driven to know my faith more. Through prayer and other people in my life, I can feel that God has a plan for me, I don’t know fully what it is yet, but I am willing to listen, be patient and take God’s lead.