A Recipe for Faith
I was raised in a Catholic family. We went to Mass on Christmas, Easter, and for weddings and quinceañeras. My parents worked a lot and sacrificed a lot for us kids. I didn’t really grow up in the faith, and I didn’t really catch on to what was going on in Mass.
As I grew up, my focus really shifted to myself. I was really worried about fitness and girls. My philosophy about God at the time was this: If there is a God, I’m not doing anything bad enough to send me to hell. My yardstick was always me comparing myself to other people.
Then, after Columbine I remembered thinking, “If there was a God, why would He allow this to happen?” I had a hard time reconciling the problem of evil, which started to lead me into agnosticism. I was confirmed in the Church because that’s what my parents wanted, but then after that I started to question if Jesus was even real, if he existed, and why he allows bad things to happen.
I was agnostic for about 17 years. I sometimes turned to God when I needed Him. He was my “genie in a bottle.” After I got married, my wife tried for nine years to get me to go to Church. During a traumatic experience with my nine-week old son, I turned to God. I prayed for him to spare my son, and even though I didn’t even know who God was, it gave me strength. Looking back now, I can see that God was there for me, even though at the time I didn’t know he was.
Then I went through a time where I was feeling very much alone. We had family and financial struggles, and I felt like an utter failure as a husband and as a man. That’s when I turned to God, got on my knees, and I told God: “If you’re real, I need you in my life. And if your son is Jesus, and he’s a Savior, then I need to be saved. And I need his Mother to be my mother.” The feeling I got from that prayer was an overwhelming calm that I hadn’t felt in months. I knew that God was real. I knew that Jesus was real and that his Mother was consoling me at that moment.
I knew I needed to change with the grace of God. I saw a Catholics Come Home commercial on TV and the mariachi band reminded me of my family and church in Mexico. I started looking into the Catholic faith again. I went to midnight Mass on Christmas and I haven’t missed a Mass since. Now I know that’s where God is.
My Protestant wife and her parents were shocked that I wanted to be a practicing Catholic again. It wasn’t a smooth transition, as we were used to going to another church together—but something was missing there. And what was missing I found in the Catholic Church: the sacraments, the Eucharist. The other church had energy, but it didn’t have the Eucharist. I knew that Jesus meant what he said: He is present in the Eucharist. Now there’s nothing that can take me away from Jesus and the Eucharist.