It has been a year since July 16th, 2011, a day that will always be in my heart.
If you don't know why that date is important to me, it is the date that I came back into God's grace and changed my ways. On this date exactly a year ago, I gave my life to Christ. You may not believe that I wasn't like this before, and as I write this, I can recall how I fought my mother, who forced me to go to that conference.
A year ago, I was not in love with Jesus. I was in love with myself, with the world, with vanity, and with sin. Everything has changed since then. My friends, my clothing, my attitude, my habits... Everything. And boy, am I glad that July 16th happened!
Today is my anniversary with Jesus. I am celebrating my rebirth on this day, and I want to recall everything that has happened in this past year that has made me who I am. Let's start by recalling July 16th. (This is from my previous blog, before I switched to Blogger.
After the conference, however, I still needed some more detachment from my worldliness. I remember falling for a person who was not a holy person, and I knew as I sat in his truck with him that if he were to advance, I probably would follow suit. After some drama, however (and nothing happened, if you were wondering.), I realized that my heart belonged to God, and if a man on this earth wanted it, he had to go through God to get it. Maya Angelou once said, "A woman's heart should be so hidden in God that a man has to seek Him just to find her."
In August, I had to struggle to keep my faith. I began to lose my friends once they realized my huge change, and keeping my faith out of the workplace and the dinner table was difficult... It was also hard because I was wearing my brown scapular that I got on July 16th, and everyone took notice.
Sometime in August or September, I began to be drawn to religious life. It started as a curiosity, a flutter in my heart when my mom introduced me to two sisters, and a small (but mostly funny) desire to dress up as a nun for an event at school. I pushed it aside as just a new part of my being Catholic - liking nuns. So in September, I got even more questions about my scapular, I lost more friends, got weird looks, and I got questions about my experience, new life, etc. My extremely pro-life self was born and I participated in the Car Wash for Birthright, which is something that my old parish did every year. I began to search for a name to take for Confirmation...
October was pretty much uneventful, except for a day retreat that I went to in preparation for Confirmation. I met some awesome speakers, and heard some very touching stories. Read them HERE.
In November, I watched the Passion of the Christ, which changed my view of the crucifixion from Jesus on a cross, to Jesus tortured, beaten, bloodied, harassed, and sinless upon that cross, and I am a nail in his wrist. I recommend the movie if you are able to handle consecutive violent scenes, and are older than 17. I shouldn't have watched it when I did (I was 16 and squeamish... I still am haha) but I am glad that I did... Read my review HERE.
In December, I was finally Confirmed on the 4th. The name I took was Kassia. This year was the first Christmas that I actually recognized and celebrated the real meaning of the day, and I felt a peace within me for that reason. The day after Christmas I drove down to the airport in NJ with my fellow Madrigal Singers to take off for Ireland! The churches and cathedrals that we visited and sang in were gorgeous and gave me a new sense of respect and love of church architecture. I learned also that my new faith meant losing 'friends.' But I also gained a new friend, one who has stuck with me and helped me through the difficulties that come with being Catholic in this day in age.
January was pretty uneventful. The only thing that sticks out in my mind is a big FaceBook debate (those always end well... NOT) about one of the things I live to preach against - abortion. It ended with me losing even more friends, temporarily deleting my account, and fearing to go to school. But once again, God helped me through it, and I learned that I will have hardships in this new life. Also, my attraction to religious life began to grow into more than a curiosity, as I joined an online chat, prayer, and discernment community.
February brought the beginning of Lent. Unlike many Catholics, I greeted Lent with excited cheers. I was excited for my 'first Lent.' I wore my ashes with pride on Ash Wednesday, and completed the season of Lent with scripture readings, a lot of prayer, and a daily devotional.
March was pretty uneventful, but April brought me to another country - SPAIN! :) Such a great experience! Even though I didn't have many friends to share the week-long visit with, I made the best of it, and I was able to go to Mass on Easter (in Spain), and to visit too many Churches and Cathedrals to count! And oh my gosh. THE NUNS! They were everywhere! And I loved it! :) On Easter, when I went to Mass, the church I went to was connected to a convent. There were nuns in the pews with us, and also behind a grille to the left of the Sanctuary. That was a great start to the trip! In the streets, in the airports. It was like I was in heaven! We visited a convent and it was so thrilling to walk in a cloister(I'm such a loser haha)! A few of my fellow travelers (I went with some of my classmates) began to tell me that I should be a nun, and that I should 'work' at the Sagrada Familia... (They don't quite get the whole ministry thing... HAHA) I finally confided in one of my closer friends that I was at least considering it. Her support helped me along the way through my discernment.
In May, I finally confided in my youth minister that I am discerning religious life. It was a difficult choice to make to openly discuss this, since for the most part, I was trying to keep it quiet. But I knew that if I told him, he would be able to help me discern this and deal with the questions and everything that comes with this. His support has helped me and I feel that I can always go to him for help if something comes up. His advice has been a great blessing in my life.
June was uneventful...
I brought my good friend who is a Mormon to Mass with me on July 10th, and introduced him to the heart of Catholicism. It was a good experience for me as well, to teach about the Catholic Mass, and to show my friend why I love it so much!
So this past year has been full of ups and downs. Discernment, losing and gaining friends, and the struggle to stay out of sin... It was definitely a battle that I couldn't have won without the help of Christ. I can only imagine what I would be like if I hadn't been forced to go on that retreat, and if I hadn't (re)found Christ. And those thoughts scare me. But they also make me thankful that July 16th, 2011 happened, and that I have given my heart to Christ. <3
Thank you for reading; I know it was long! But I hope this has inspired you, and if you have any questions, don't hesitate to comment! :)