" You shall cross the barren desert, but you shall not die of thrist."
Over the next several Sundays, I will be sharing my personal journey back to the practice of my faith and full communion with the Catholic Church. How I lost my faith in God, and how through God’s grace and loving care I was able to repair my relationship with God our Father and experience the loving care he has for me in my life.
and here is Part 3
After my mother’s death, I did not focus on my relationship with God. My focus was survival. I started working when I was thirteen. Although I grew up going to parochial school, I did not pay attention to my faith. Instead I was acutely aware how much money my family did not have compared to my class mates. Early on, I worked cleaning houses and baby-sitting, so I could buy school books, a prom dress, and a car, things many of my friends took for granted. After struggling for two years to put myself through college, I joined the U.S. Army for the G.I. Bill and the Army College Fund.
In 1992, I finally graduated cum laude and like so many women in my generation, I focused on my career. I met my husband in 1995, and we married in 1998.
In 2002, I received a call from my friend, Stephanie. At the time, she was expecting her second child. It was early on in the pregnancy, and the sex of the baby was unknown, however she had experienced a dream that she wanted to share with me. In this dream, she had delivered a baby girl and named her Mary Renee. Mary is my name and Renee is her sister-in-law, who at 32 was losing the battle against brain cancer. Stephanie also asked me to be the godmother of this child.
Naturally I was flattered by the name choice, however when I got off the phone I began to wonder, “What am I going to do?” At the time, I was not attending Church. Although, I was raised Catholic and graduated from an all-girls’ Catholic high school, I had not practiced my faith in years. My husband and I were married in a civil ceremony. Our religious attendance was limited to funerals, weddings, and the annual Christmas cantata performed at the local Baptist church my in-laws attended.
Yet, I knew deep down in my soul I was a Catholic. When I received the news the baby was indeed a girl, I knew I had to act, even if I did not feel the promptings of the Holy Spirit. I called the local Catholic Church, and made an appointment with the nun who was charge of Adult Faith Formation. Her name was Sister Regina. She directed me to join the Landings Program, a lay ministry that welcomes inactive Catholics back to the practice of their faith. My husband and I had our marriage blessed. In 2004, Rick entered the Church on Easter Vigil confirming his baptismal vows and making a professional of faith.
In hindsight, I also remember another birth announcement. This one was from the Gospel of Luke chapter 1:
“In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,* and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?”*
And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived* a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word?” Then the angel departed from her.
Like Mary, I was called by God to listen, to trust, and to obey as he guided me. Like Mary, I knew I must say yes even if the request seemed unusual, uncomfortable and knocked me out of my comfort zone. She, most of all, teaches me that only through the power of Holy Spirit, I can do the work of Jesus Christ.