I was born a while ago, and baptised shortly after. I have been Catholic my whole life, but I only recently embarked on a journey of deepening my knowledge and faith.
In grade 10, I was invited to go to a SEARCH, which is a weekend long retreat where you learn about Jesus. I came face to face with Christ in a way I had never experienced Him before. My fire was lit and I wanted more. I went to youth group and a few more search’s as back-up, as well as Ignite summer camp put on by Face to Face Ministries. That was all well and good, but in between these Searches and camps, my faith faded. I was living for the Holy Spirit rush and my faith was very based upon feelings. When I began university, my faith took a back seat to everything else in my life. I still attended Mass every Sunday, but my head and my heart were often elsewhere. “God will understand if I don’t pray today, I mean, surely He knows how unbelievably busy I am with exams and papers and my three jobs”. I told myself that more times than I can count. I also didn't wear my faith on my sleeve, as I didn't want to be cast as an “outsider” in my university program, as it is largely dominated by secular or Eastern spiritual practices and beliefs. I loved God and I knew God loved me, but we had what I like to call an understanding where I would acknowledge that He was there on Sundays and when I didn't forget in the morning and evening, but everything in between was mine. How wrong was I?? Spoiler alert: very.
A little less than year ago I could feel God calling me closer to Him. At the time I didn't necessarily know why, but I went along with Him. He was taking me on an unexpected journey. Shortly after I felt this calling to grow closer to God, He shook my life up a little bit. I did not simply walk into my Mordor, I was dragged kicking and screaming, well rather crying in my bedroom, bathroom, friends house, parks, … you get the point and I digress.
My Mordor is depression.
I have come to realize the incredible power of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the graces that flow from it. In my state of hurt and anger, it was very easy for me to fall victim to temptation. I woke up one day after not being able to sleep much the night before, knowing in my heart that I needed absolution. I called my parish office and made an appointment with a priest for confession. I can’t begin to describe the healing and grace that was poured out onto me after Confession. After all, the Church calls it the Sacrament of Healing! Feeling Christ’s forgiveness and love took away the sick and heavy feeling that I had been carrying around with me. I came to Him with a contrite and broken heart, and he embraced it and made it new again. Because He loves me and knows how much I like to laugh, later that day when I was walking home after work, a thunder/rain/hail storm began and I was rained and hailed upon the whole way to my car. People that I walked by probably thought I was crazy because I was smiling and laughing the whole way. Thanks God, I probably, scratch that, I did deserve that.
I was so angry with God because I loved how my life was before and was incredibly hurt that it was taken from me. I put my faith and trust in Him and I felt betrayed. I prayed four Rosaries a day, and if four didn't work for me the day before, then I prayed five the next hoping for some form of comfort. In my hurt, I grew closer to Christ, I united my suffering with His. It was hard. And trust me, some days it didn't happen. Some days my anger and bitterness won. Some days they still do win. I can’t count the number of times I knelt before Christ after mass and wept. I can’t count the number of times I told God how hurt I was and how I didn't want to trust Him anymore. I can’t count the incredible blessings I have received through this depression. I've learned that those days and this depression were both beautiful gifts. I have learned and grown so much through them.
I recall after a long day of work not too time much later, I was walking home and remarked to myself something like: “This really isn't my day!” Immediately after that thought finished, I heard God reply in the most loving way possible: “No, it’s not. It’s my day, and how dare you claim it for your own.” Needless to say, I was floored. He was and is right. Psalm 118:24 states “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it”. That was the day that I really started giving God my whole day: the morning, evening and everything in between. If I'm having a good day, I give that to God and thank Him for it, and if I am having a bad day, I do the same.
On October 7th of this year I made my consecration to our Blessed Mother. To say the experience was life changing would be an understatement. I came to know Mary in a new an intimate way. As someone who is currently discerning their vocation, I got immense comfort through drawing closer to Mary and entrusting myself to her care.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that life is a mountain. Sometimes the climbing is easy, other times not so much, but no matter how treacherous the path may seem, the view from the top is always worth it.