Raised in an Italian home, the rules were simple. Sunday morning, everyone was up and at ’em and off to Church, whether you liked it or not. Before the age of 13, I didn’t really mind. Most of my friends were there anyway. Once I became a teenager, it was a whole different story. I was dragged, kicking, screaming and pouting all the way. I swore that when I became an adult I was never going to Church. Ever again. And I didn’t. For a very long time.
Fast forward to 2008 when mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Even in the midst of losing her wits she still insisted on going to Church. She would say “someone better bring me there!” …Yay me. I was fortunate, however, to share this dreaded duty with another family member. This only lasted a short time because Mom’s illness took over her quickly.
I didn’t like Church and I could never wrap my head around the message from the man in the white robe standing in front of us shouting angrily that “we are all sinners and we’re going to Hell and don’t forget to give generously. Your Church needs your money”. Nope. I just didn’t get it. Aren’t we supposed to pray and be happy and feel love here? Church just made me angry.
For years, I would just quietly pray to God and hope that He heard me. Not daily, nor very faithfully. In all honesty, it was usually just a weak prayer, a meaningless Our Father rhymed off in a monotone whisper in hopes that maybe, just maybe, He’ll answer, but never really thinking He would anyway. I definitely believed in Him. I wasn’t so sure He believed in me.
Fast forward one last time to 2012. My life has been dragged through the mud, heavily laced with broken glass, by a team of wild horses. It was time for a miracle. A sign. Something. I needed something desperately in my life to bring me peace and hope.
And I found it. A nice quiet Church on a busy street that would grant all my wishes. I randomly chose it, not giving it much thought. It wasn’t even Catholic, which is the faith I was raised with. I went inside, sat in the very last row, and desperately tried to be invisible. I didn’t want to fit in, I didn’t need new friends. I just needed peace.
What I found amazed me. It was more than peace and hope. It was faith and love, support and guidance. It was warmth and belonging, it was home. His home. My home. Our home. I also found some beautiful people. Like none I’ve ever known before. It was amazing.
I attend Church every Sunday now and even do the readings once a month! I have learned to give without expecting anything in return. I have learned that my life must have God.
I now have a new purpose and passion for life. I also have a new vision and mission for my life. To spread peace, love, hope and joy around the world. To give to others what God has given to me.
Peace and Love!