The First 18 Years

The First 18 Years by A

As I turn 19, I ponder on what God has done in my life. I am certain of two things: God has worked through me and I am not yet a saint. Everything good that comes from me comes from God and every failure and flaw is from me. And this is the thrilling romance of the Catholic; that God works through you in spite of your flaws and failures. It will be impossible however, that I write down everything I have learned and done. I can say with St. John that "Jesus did many other things (things like working through me); if all were written down, the world itself would not hold the books recording them."

I will never forget that day when I read the Bible in 8th grade. Everything seemed to be going very well for me. But I was still not satisfied with what I had. I yearned for the everlasting, but possessed the temporary. It was reading the Bible which made me realize that this is not my world; I was made for another. I am made for better things, to live in grace, to live in perfect communion with God, the One who can make me good and happy. And God, out of all beings, out of all creatures and creation, loves me. Out of the great distance between the Sun and Pluto, God loves me. Out of all the grains of sand in a beach, God loves me. Out of all the species on earth, turtles to monkeys, God loves me. Even though I have sinned many times, He still loves me. There is no sin greater than His love for me. He became Man for me. He lived for me. He died for me. He truly loved me. What other religion can express their god's love for them as I can do to mine?

Living in a world which teaches "progress" without something to progress to, I choose to live in Christ, Who is forever young. The modern world can accept the Brave New World and the culture of death. The modern world can accept fornication, homosexuality, abortion, cloning, and euthanasia. The modern world can do as much as they can with their scientific developments. The modern world can do as much as they can with their machines. But it will not make them happy. The modern world will never attain happiness and peace of soul which they yearn for until they come into communion with God, until they desire to be a saint.

What is a saint? A saint is one who is in communion with God. What does being in communion with God mean? It means to love Him. What does loving consist of? It consists of becoming one with Him, participating in His sufferings, and to exist for Him. It is when God and I lived for each other, when we have that famous "I-Thou" relationship which manifests our love for each other. It is loving Him which will destroy the evil running about in this world. Without this personal relationship, as many of our Protestant brothers and sisters love to stress, there can be no joy and peace. Just imagine God telling you, "You can do anything you want. You can make as much clones as you can. You can abort as many babies you desire. You can have sex with anyone and as many as you want. You can have all the money in the world. You can have as much machines as you can. You can have as much friends and mates as you want. You can literally have anything and everything you want. But only in the condition that you will never see me again, you will never have me."

I hope you just had one of those chills after you read these statements. Having everything in creation without God is like having all love letters in the world without the lover. It is like having a telescope of which there is no star to see. If there is no God, I would literally kill myself. There is no point in living if I cannot see the One who made me. Life is meaningless without God. There is no purpose in living. The only reason why I am still alive, even though I sometimes do not show it by my actions, is because I have something, or I should say Someone, to live for. I live for God and "to live is Christ."

What I have just said is one reason why I am Catholic. I am Catholic because in the Catholic faith, I have discovered the truth about the world, of others, and especially about myself. It is only in the Catholic faith which I can "fully" be myself, of which I can truly be human. It is only in the Catholic faith in which I can attain the happiness and perfection I desire. And all of this is possible because God loves me and never ceases to love me. In this context of God's love, not only do I discover truth, but I also see the beauty of everything. Only in the context of God's love can we see the beauty of truth. Everything makes sense because God loves me.

In the 18 years of my life, there is one person whom I have to give credit to. The person is who I believe to be the human person par excellence. The person is the Mother of God, Mary. Mary sees every person as if she is looking at Christ. Every face she sees is the face of God, the face of Christ. She sees beauty in every person. And it is through her eyes, through the beads, which I see beauty in truth, and truth in beauty. Through her eyes, I see that Christ is Beauty and every person in some way or another reflects Him, and I learn to see the beauty in them. Through her eyes, I can see the dignity and sanctity of every person. This is truly how we must "Behold our Mother." We must, in her and through her, see Christ in every person. And because I have done this, I have become a spoiled brat of God, getting everything I wanted and needed because I have requested them through my Mother.

The Virgin Mother. How unpopular these words are! The reason why we have the abortion-holocaust in the first place is because we look down on virginity and motherhood. We look down on virginity, thinking that since everyone is having sex and it feels good, we must do it too even if it is in its improper place, outside of marriage. We look down on virginity because it requires too much. Virginity requires sacrifice and "sacrifice" is foreign in our minds. Virginity requires that we must declare a jihad against ourselves, against our desires, for love. Virginity tells us that our totality is reserved for the one whom we love.

Motherhood too is looked down upon. Motherhood requires that we welcome every human being to our homes because he is a human being. Motherhood requires a sincere giving of self, to sacrifice our wants for the good of the other. It puts primacy on love of the other. These are the things the modern world hate. It hates motherhood when it gives women "rights to murder" and hates virginity when it promotes fornication. It hates motherhood and virginity because it hates sacrifice.

Mary, the Virgin Mother, encourages each one of us to submit to God's will, to give our fiat, to make sacrifices because there is a good which is above and beyond us. Virginity and Motherhood presupposes the truth that "death is only an episode" and that there are things worth sacrificing for in this world because we are made for another. It is only through recognizing this truth that will turn this world around to becoming a pro-life world. Only through recognizing this truth will turn broken families into images of The Family, the Trinity.

If Jesus asked me why I should be allowed to heaven, I might just answer, "Because I have been searched for You and towards You through my life. And your Mother led me to you." My Blessed Mother, always keep an eye on me and never let me be separated from Christ. You know the sorrow of being separated from Him when He was lost. Do not let me experience that sorrow. If I have been separated, always lead me to Him because I know that you always find Him. It is knowing this that I have the courage to say, Hail Mary...

God continues to make a quest for man. He keeps on coming to us because he loves each one of us. God comes to us everyday either through people, Scripture, or the Mass. God has come to me and keeps on coming on to me. And that is the essence of Christianity. God came to me! And He comes to me in a special way, through His Body and Blood. Jesus said, "This is My Body" and I believe. He said "For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink" and I believe. Yes, the "bread" and "wine" you see in the altar is not just a symbol, but Christ Himself. It is not Jesus plus bread, or Jesus plus wine. It is purely Jesus in the appearance of bead and wine. After the words of consecration, the bread and wine ceases to be bread and wine. It transforms into the Body and Blood of Christ. And then I receive Him.

After the priest says "The Body of Christ," I give a Marian response, a fiat, an "Amen." Christ then comes to me, and transforms me to be like Himself, who can truly make me good and happy. It is in Christ which I can fully know myself, of which I can actualize the potentialities I have as a human being. At the same time, this communion with God unites all of His followers. "My Father" becomes "Our Father." We become one, participating in the sacrifice of Christ. We, the Church, the People of God, become like God. His unity with His Church is so close that we are "one mystic person." Christ takes on a new body, His Mystical Body of Christ. It is through the Eucharist which we can express the truth of "God became Man so that man might become a god."

But we cannot participate in this unity until we are in full communion with Rome. Every sacrifice or every part of sacrifice, requires obedience. It is because of Christ's obedience that He can save us. So too if we want to participate in His life, in His sacrifice, then we must obey. We must obey Him. And we obey Him through obeying His Vicar, the Pope. Obedience is foreign to the minds of the modern world because, again, it is sacrificial. Every obedience requires that we sacrifice our wills for truth. It requires that we be humble, to know that we cannot know everything, that we are fallible beings. Knowing that we are fallible beings, we know that there is always the possibility of error. No matter how intelligent we think we are, self-abandonment, self-sacrifice, is primary. And self-abandonment means to trust that God will work through us, through our thoughts, through our life, even if we do not think that we are walking on the right way. This is what obedience means. It is through obedience that we will grow in wisdom. We must obey, obey, and obey. We must obey even though He is silent.

These are the things which I thought of when pondering over the things which have happened to me during my first 18 years. These are the truths which I have discovered. These are the truths which kept me happy and kept my family and friends together. As I have said in the beginning, I am not yet a saint. But I can do one thing: Trust in Him. I have trust in Him because I have read about His Life and His Words and I am a part of it. I have read the Book and I know how it will end. I hope that in the end, I will still be a part of His Life. I know that the outcome of His Providence is always good. I know this because I know that His tomb is empty.


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