Our lives, or at least mine as a mom of two little ones three and under, and one on the way, has a tendency to be complex and noisy. I find myself consumed in moments of uncertainty, distracted by the scary realities of our changing and evolving world, and the added (and sometimes self-induced) pressures of living the fullest life possible.
I've been thinking lately about how we tend to overcomplicate things, (or at least I do). As I grew up with no formal religion or faith background, my efforts to understand my faith can also become complex. I find that when I reflect on the basics of God's love through simple acts of kindness and worship, I am brought back to peace, to one of the elemental reasons I chose to become Catholic. The unconditional love surrounding faith and Jesus is what guided me to the church and gave me the courage to embrace something completely foreign.
The beginnings of my conversion began a number of years back when I passed by a beautiful yet humble church nestled among neighboring concrete structures on my morning route to work. The well-tended garden plot on the side of the church was a refreshing source of peace as I trudged towards my hectic days on the bustling streets of Chicago. Little did I realize at the time; this would be the location where my seedlings of faith would plant themselves and begin to grow.
My then soon-to-be husband and his family introduced me to Mass and the love and compassion surrounding his family’s local church community. I began to notice that each time I entered a church, I experienced a pull, a feeling of something larger than myself. From the way the sunlight filtered through the stained-glass windows to the “Becoming Catholic” pamphlets laid in front of the pews, each church felt like a welcoming holy home.
Then one day, I felt compelled to reach out to the priest of the local church I had begun to pass each day and impulsively scheduled a meeting. Having little to no experience interacting with the faith community or knowing the proper communication protocol, I entered my first meeting with a pitter-pattering heart. As soon as I shook Father’s hand and took a seat, I started speaking fast, from my nerves, I assume, and he reassured me that this wasn’t a confession and we could have a simple conversation.
Here I was sitting in this simple and magnificent church in the middle of downtown Chicago, hidden away from loud distractions, talking with a person who gave his life to something so much bigger. I immediately thought to myself, this is something different and sacred; how do I become part of this?
Within the next year, I had experienced three of the seven holy sacraments: baptism, confirmation, marriage. I was catapulted into the beginnings of a way of life that amplified values that had existed all along, but I had finally come to recognize within myself: love, compassion, stewardship, and living God’s will.
The process of becoming Catholic and striving each day to live a faithful life has given me the clarity to see into myself. While I continue to learn the Catholic faith's joyous complexities, I am continuously brought back to the simplistic heartbeat of Catholicism, following the love laid forth by our one true father and his son. How amazing is it that with all of this noisy chaos that consumes our lives, we have the opportunity to tap into such a gift that serves as a guiding star for our life here on Earth and beyond? I truly feel that I have a home for my soul, and the entire process of learning about faith, going through the RCIA program, establishing a home parish, and joining fellowship has reenergized my purpose for living a meaningful life.
Maybe, living an ultimate life is really about opening your eyes and arms wide and allowing the light and love to spill out unto the world. Life and the beauty thereof, is the discovery in the journey of kindness and loving one another just as Jesus did and continues to do each and every day.