“Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.” – St. Augustine
At times it is simply a mystery to me how I held on to my Catholic identity.
I was raised Catholic and went to a Catholic school until I was in the eighth grade. I went to a public high school, but very willingly attended CCD (religious education classes) as well as Totus Tuus(for some reason I cannot get the link to work correctly: http://catholicdioceseofwichita.org/totus-tuus/totus-tuus-home) in the summer. I became active in youth group. It never occurred to me to take a different path to be honest. This doesn’t mean that my faith has never been tested or challenged, but I always had a solid idea of where I was going in life even if I was fuzzy on the details. Being Catholic was not up for debate or compromise in my life. After high school I went to a state university, but even there I began attending daily Mass, and many of my friends and acquaintances were Catholic. I went on to spend two summers teaching Totus Tuus. My first summer teaching brought about a few changes in my life: new friends, the death of a role model, and lost friendships. I also began the difficult process of filling in the details of what I wanted to do with my life. This prompted a change of schools for my junior and senior years of college and an intense internal struggle with my personal discernment process. It meant I was headed back to a Catholic education. I spent the rest of college studying my faith as well as falling in love (a quick shout out to my husband!) It was important to me to take the basic principles of my faith beyond my eighth grade understanding. Teaching Totus Tuus was a strong motivator for this, but so was my life. Not many of my family members remained Catholic, not many of my friends did either. I was confirmed my junior year of high school (barely), and I had a very good idea of the kind of Catholic woman I wanted to be then, but I did not know why I wanted this. (I believe that the Catholic Church has some adjusting and expanding to do in regards to religious education standards, but this is a topic for another day). I wanted to expand my knowledge of what it means to be a Catholic woman today, in America. To do this I studied. I asked questions. I entered into debates with priests and sisters. I discussed these things with my fellow Totus Tuus teammates and I surrounded myself with people that would challenge my beliefs so that I could learn more. As my heart and mind became more devout, my struggles intensified, but only because I became more certain of my faith and more aware of my own imperfections. I am grateful for these experiences.
Of course, my journey as a Catholic does not end there. As a wife and mother, every day brings new challenges. That is precisely what I love about my Catholic faith: it is not a set of rules that you blindly follow, nor is it a list of things to do or not to do. It is a way of life. It is a calling to know and love and believe when things are good and when things are difficult. It is all encompassing, and requires you to do the leg work. I am incapable of understanding it all, but I have my entire life to work on it.