My faith journey has not followed a smooth and easy path, a predictable, ascending road where prior experiences make sense and create a nice foundation to build upon. On the contrary, my faith journey has been a bumpy road with ups and downs, a journey of self‑discovery filled with learning about how to live with God and for God.
In my childhood, I remember the adults talking about God. I could sense from their conversations that God was behind all good things, and when you really, really, wanted something you needed to ask God. For me, God was a distant and confusing figure; I couldn’t relate to him. My world was very different from his and I didn’t quite understand how to fit him into my life. I dreaded going to Mass and I prayed that the priest wouldn’t close his eyes during the homily because if he did, I knew it was going to last 45 minutes. Living with God felt like a chore.
The time during my teens and early tweens was my skeptical phase. According to me, faith was not rational, and miracles couldn’t be scientifically proven. I loved reading about how obtuse the Church was, and I was really good at finding contradictions in the Church’s teachings. Then came my late twenties and thirties when I was mostly focused on my professional career. Believing in God felt almost silly, something that only lazy people would do instead of working hard. That was a time when I was convinced that I could achieve anything with hard work, and asking God for his help was a shortcut for less earnest people.
It was then when life, or likely God, presented me with something that I was not going to be able to achieve with hard work. It was the first time that working hard and working smart didn’t do the trick. Life brought me to my knees and only then did I turn to God. Even so, I was doing this from a position of arrogance and impatience. Surely God was going to listen to me and understand that I, in my infinite wisdom and clarity, was asking Him to grant the “right thing for me.”
Thankfully things didn’t happen as I had carefully planned them. I went through a period of intense suffering, many tears, and despair, and that’s when my faith journey took a turn. I learned to trust God, and to pray not so that he would listen to me but so that I would listen to him. I learned to be humble and vulnerable. I learned to trust his time, and to understand that anything I have is a gift from him. Yet let’s not idealize this process; it was painful, it took a lot of hard work and, I am convinced I couldn’t have done it without the strength and light that only God can give.
Today God is very present in my life. I look for God in good times and in bad ones and I want to listen to what he has to say. I make a conscious effort to stay close to him, and thank him for so, so much. I read the Scriptures and go to Mass because I always find answers and because receiving Communion is the best gift. I see him everywhere and in everything. I am very vocal about my faith and about God’s influence in my life. Perhaps that’s why some people tell me, “You are so Catholic.” I don’t know exactly what that means, but if it means living with God, thanking him every day, asking him to show me his will, then yes, I am very Catholic. If that means having peace because he is always with me, and trusting he will be with me when life gets tough, then yes, I am very Catholic.
I am proudly “so Catholic” because I live with God, and hopefully, my faith journey will continue to evolve until I can say I live for God.
Maria Eugenia was born in Caracas, Venezuela, the oldest of four siblings. She lives in Bolton, Massachusetts with Alex, her husband of 22 years, and Rocky, their 2-year old French Bulldog. Alex and Maria Eugenia are parents to twin boys Carlos and Luis, 18, both college freshmen. Maria Eugenia was raised in a Catholic family, though her Catholic faith had not always been present in her life. Maria Eugenia was inspired by Christina’s journey and by the beautiful way in which her parents and close friends choose to maintain her legacy. Christina’s faith has reframed her perspective of life and has given her a newfound source of strength and purpose.