Now that I have started my own blog, I have become addicted to reading other people's blogs. It wasn't only my brother's blog that inspired me to write my own, but also a recent magazine article in "Family Foundations." This article explained how blogging is another tool of evangelizing. It showcased four women's blogs- all devout Catholic mothers. These holy women have such amazing spiritual lives but experience struggles as well.
I'd like to write about my own "spiritual growth spurt."
To spare you all from an autobiography-tome of myself, I'll try my hardest to keep it simple and short, but in order to do that I think I'll have to split this story up!
My wonderful single mother was born and raised Catholic. I was born Catholic, but not necessarily raised that way. Mom and I lived across the street from the only Catholic church in the entire county- good ol' St. Paul's. However, we never went to Mass regularly. I remember hearing the church bells chime and seeing all the dressed up men and women walking into the church. I remember feeling a tad bit guilty we weren't going but I had other worries in my young life- like if we had ran out of Twinkies, and if so, how soon we could get some more.
When I was eight years old my mom and I got back into the routine of going to Mass since I was about to receive my first Holy Communion. I remember being excited for my First Communion, but only because my big brother was coming from Kansas City, presents were involved, and I got to dress up like a bride. But soon we fell out of the routine. Sunday mornings were once again filled with sleeping in and doing nothing. Every once in awhile we'd start going for a couple weeks, but then miss a Mass and fall out of the habit of going.
I might not have gone to Mass as a child, but I did go to CCD classes and vacation Bible school. I remember loving snack time, thrilled to get the part of Mary in the Christmas program and pizza parties at the city park. I didn't learn much of anything except for the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be prayers.
So it's safe to say I knew diddly-squat about my Catholic faith. And it wasn't easy living in a county that is less than 1% Catholic. I remember when I was really little going to a near by town to go bowling with a Pentecostal youth group. We were at a pizza place when one of my elementary friends made fun of me for being Catholic. I believe it was to the effect of, "You Catholics think Mary is God!" Of course I didn't know how to respond to that. I must have missed that lesson on the Mother of God. Instead for the first time in my life I was ashamed of being a Catholic.
In seventh grade we moved a couple blocks away from the church and I soon began -DUN DUN DUUUUUNNNN!- my teenage years.....
I was a pretty good kid in high school. I got good grades, participated in a lot of extracurricular activities, and dabbled in a bit of school government. I even got the title of "Miss Tarkio High School" my senior year. My friends and I were a group of good girls (for the most part.) We never drank or partied, we were part of the Principal Advisory Council, we were in the National Honor Society. Teachers loved us (except for maybe our choir director) since we weren't trouble makers and turned in our homework. However I'm sure the teachers saw me passing notes to my best friend Ashlee, and I was always talking during class. My friends and I weren't perfect angels... we would explore abandoned houses in the country at night. We weren't always the best drivers. We also...well, I won't get too much into our crazy shenanigans.
Where was religion during my teenage years? I remember going to a Christian rock band concert at a Protestant church and getting spiritual goosebumps. In a fit of crying over my sins I followed my friends downstairs to give my life to Christ. A friend of mine and I were on a spiritual high for awhile after that....but it quickly faded away. During my freshman year of high school I was confirmed along with my cousin. In order to be able to be confirmed we actually had to start going to Mass again. I remember those Masses- my cousin and I would always start laughing at something (usually just looking at each other) and nearly explode from trying to keep the giggles in! After Mass we'd always go eat at the 10th Street restaurant where my lovable Uncle Mick would embarrass his teenage daughter and niece by singing little songs (loudly) and make jokes.
When Confirmation came I was excited, just like I was years before at First Communion. But just like then I did not realize the infinite amount of graces that each of these events, these Sacraments, had in store for me. I was more excited about my big family gathering for the occasion, and being in the beautiful Basilica on a gorgeous spring day.
After the event was over, something amazing happened- my mom and I continued going to Mass regularly and it stuck. My priest had wrangled me into singing for Christmas Eve Mass and Easter so I became more involved with the parish. I even started to read the Scripture readings during Mass every once in awhile. Sometimes Fr. Reginald's sermons were so good and powerful I felt he was speaking directly to me.
Although I was going to Mass and was involved....I still wasn't interested in growing spiritually. After all, I had many other things going on in my life to focus on. I had friends, homework, sports, boyfriends (man, did they take up a lot of time!), proms, tanning, work, college applications, trying to get along with my mom, and trying to find entertainment in my tiny hometown. Many times I dragged my feet when it came to going to church and I was only thinking how long Mass was going to take so I could take a nap when we got home.
Although I battled with depression before my senior year, things got better and I ended up having an amazing last year of high school. I was so excited for college. I had a bright and promising future ahead of me.
I had no idea just how hard life was going to get when I left my safe stable home and entered college....