This reflection can be found in the publication "Young Adults Journey with God & Faith" in the Voices of Hope series with the Society of Helpers.
“God became one of us so that we may become more like God.” Growing up, this quote from St. Athanasius of Alexandria always pointed me to ways of finding hope, especially in times when there was plenty of reason to lose hope. Living an authentic Catholic faith hasn’t always been rainbows and butterflies, but it’s not always supposed to be. The Apostle Peter, Jesus’ right hand, was the best among the Apostles and models for us that, even in moments when we doubt or even deny Jesus, we can always turn back and follow Jesus again. Sometimes, this can be scary. Life can give us plenty of reasons to find an easier way than faith to guide us, but it is our hope that leads us to the love of Christ and how that love becomes alive in our daily decisions.
The love of God has had many faces on my journey. Starting with my moms, who embody God for me, adopted me, chose me, just as God chose me. The lessons they taught me, the way they put forward their faith as a guide in their actions was something that rooted faith in me. It wasn’t always through going to church, but the constant return to the Gospel that always gave me such hope. As I got older and my family started to fall away from the church for very just reasons, specifically parish life, I had fears that I would lose my way, but I kept my hope in many things and, as my interest in studying theology grew, I turned to the Word of God. A fun fact: the phrase, “Do not be afraid” is written in the Bible 365 times. For me, especially after discovering this, it became a daily reminder from God to live fearless and not just to trust in God’s mysterious ways, but to be aware and be in touch through discernment. That was a daily choice, and it still is. Every day, I wake up and have hope in God through my relationships with family and friends.
My relationship with the Church has been complicated. Due to my strong advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community, women’s rights and ordination, and tensions with the idea of not only existing within but serving in a patriarchal hierarchy that has often resulted in alienating those who I love, I often found myself clashing with my peers, teachers, clergy, and others who hold stronger to the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church without any considerations for reform. I also found in the Church, however, many friends, mentors, clergy, and, eventually, my religious community (The Order of St. Benedict), who had common elements on their journey that allowed for mutual accompaniment. In the same vein, I also learned the importance of the universal call to accompaniment of my sisters, brothers, and siblings in Christ who don’t share my views and that, though our approaches may be different, we are to work together for the common good.
My parish growing up starts its mission statement with “All are welcome.” In the Body of Christ, we are all welcome because we, though different, form one body together. This is something I have held onto and will never let go of. That welcoming, that togetherness in Christ, is faith because though we do not all worship the same, have the same theological approach, or follow the same vocational calling, we are all bound to each other by the love of Christ, the same love that we are supposed to embody for others so that they, too, might have hope in a world that severely needs something to believe in, something to place our hope in. Every day, I strive to give hope to anyone whose path I cross.