Twenty years ago today, as my first child was baptised, I entered the Catholic Church and received the Eucharist for the first time.
It’s been a long road. There is so much more to learn, and sometimes, I am very hard on myself for everything I don’t know, and everything I mess up or do wrong. Over the past year especially it’s been tough, with troubles in the family, and friends who have turned against us, determined to save us from the ‘evils’ of the church. It’s tough to take – and sometimes, it’s a struggle just to get through the day.
But last night as I prayed, I realised just how far I had come. There I was, busy telling God how I had failed and neglected to serve him, when I was reminded of a young sixteen year old, lying in a hospital bed after an overdose. How I managed to leave that life behind is nothing short of a miracle. Looking back, I can see God’s hand on my life, even then. So many dangers presented themselves, and how I even managed to get through it alive is incredible, especially given that others in my group of friends did not. There but for the grace of God, go I.
The fact that I am now a mum of eight, Catholic, and homeschooling is truly amazing. Sometimes, I can hardly believe that it is real. When I think of what my life could have been, I find that I am so thankful for everything I have, for my faith, the hope that is in me, and for my precious family and friends.
But there have been times. After a particular nasty attack on my faith by some other ‘friends’ a few years ago, I found myself at Mass one day in tears. Were they right? Had I simply stepped from one evil to another? Was I now brainwashed? Should I stand up and walk out, and find somewhere else to worship? As I prayed, I looked up to see the tabernacle, and the words came, loud and clear in my mind: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life” * And at that moment, I knew. I knew there was no brainwashing, and the teachings were not false. I knew that Christi’s presence in the Eucharist was real, and that there was no more need of searching. I was at home in the Catholic Church, and I was here to stay.
* John 6:68