My Return Back Home

My return back to home

I was 13 years old when I received my first Bible. Although I was raised Catholic I attended a Baptist church when one of my friends invited me. At the end of the service the pastor of the church came up to me and asked if I had a Bible. I said No and so he gave me one. I asked him how much and he said it was free. And it was then at that moment that my journey began. As I got home I started reading the Bible like it had already been a part of my life. I was reading about 100 pages per day. My Mother was wondering why I took such an interest since people my age are usually reading comic books. But for myself, I read and read because it fascinated me. It was as though God himself was telling me the story of Creation, Fall, and Salvation. I ended up finishing the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation in 3 months.

And as soon as I was done I started all over again with Genesis. By the time I was a Sophomore in High School I had read the entire Bible 5 times. And each time I read it I learned something new. When I would attend Mass I would understand the Liturgy so well that I could actually recall every detail I had read about it. I was actually telling the stories of the Bible to my parents and grandparents.

Then in my Junior year in high school I heard Gregorian chants in my art class. I fell in love with the music. Now when I would pray to God I would not only read the psalms, but at the same time I would play the chants over the stereo. I used to pray for hours at a time. I actually considered becoming a priest. I was now a Senior in high school and one of my friends invited me to his Protestant church. I saw something that I have never seen at any Catholic church, it was fellowship. It seemed like everyone knew everyone. And everyone was excited to see me. I was introduced to everyone. I was in awe. I started to ponder why no one ever greeted me at my parish like this. I am not talking about a simple hello welcome, but more like welcome home where you belong.

I found people my age with an intense love for Jesus. I felt like I had found my home. Everything seemed perfect and then the question came. "Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus as your lord and savior" I was asked. I was never asked that question, but I replied "Yes, I pray to him for hours at a time. I attend Mass every Sunday. I confess my sins before a priest. I take his body and blood." And then from nowhere the onslaught of questions came my way. "Why do you say its his body and blood, its really a symbol of that. Jesus is not about a religion its about a personal relationship with him. Why do you even pray to Mary, Jesus is the only mediator to the father. Why follow the pope, all you need is the Bible. There is no mention of the word pope in the Bible." After months of debate and desperately looking for a way to answer I began to doubt my views, especially since everything they had was backed up with Scripture.

So I left the Catholic church and was baptized. I was happy because I did not recall my infant baptism so it felt like I was baptized just like the people I had read about in the Bible for so many years. I missed the fact that I couldn't pray to Mary. I was in love with Mary because to me, she was the perfect example on how to love, and follow the Lord. As the years passed I was a regular at church. I felt like a Bible warrior. I had Scripture and verse memorized, I couldn't wait to share my faith.

I was now 21 years old and I fell away from God. Events had happened in my life that caused me to believe God abandoned me, or worse yet that he didn't exist. I had joined the Marines to get as far away as possible. My life was very Unchristian to put it mildly. I was actually having fun living this sinners life. I had women by the dozens, and life was great. Although I would go through ups and downs, still it was fun to run into the arms of many women and know that she alone would heal me, love me, and make me feel better. I had become what I never thought I would be, and yet it was exciting.

My wild years had passed and I got married to a good Christian woman when I was 25. After all I experienced I knew that a Christian woman would be much easier to trust than one who didn't fear God. Although I did not attend church I knew she loved God enough for the both of us. I still did not want anything to do with him, unless I needed something done. I treated him like a butler more than a God.

I remember one day stopping at my old Catholic church and walking up to the statue of Mary and felt so close to her. I felt closer to her because it wasn't her fault that I turned away from God. Although I felt it was his fault that I stopped believing. I hadn't prayed to Mary in over 8 years but I walked up to the statue and said

"Oh Mary, how I wish Catholicism wasn't wrong. I truly loved God and his family and for some reason I felt so drawn to you. Perhaps it was because you trusted him so much that I only wished I could have your faith and trust. Mary, how I long to pray to you, but even that would be wrong because you are dead and only Jesus could hear my prayers. If you are really alive and in heaven like the Roman Catholic Church says you are, then restore my faith. If God cares about me then let my passion for him return. It would take a miracle because I just can't see myself returning to him, at least not yet."

Three years later my marriage was going strong. My wife's frequent church visits had kind of bothered me. I would attend her church every now and then but felt nothing. However I did try to reconcile with God because I felt like maybe I should give it one more try.

Then the season of Lent started for the Catholic Church and for some reason I cannot explain, I decided to fast from red and white meat for 40 days, and fasted completely from food 2 days before Easter. At the end of my fast I felt drawn to go to midnight Mass. However when I got there, there was none. I ran into a young man who looked like an altar boy. I asked him if he was an altar boy and he smiled and said he was a priest. I didn't know what to do. I hadn't talked to one in years. As I said "OK, nice to meet you." He said "Why are you here?" I responded that I was coming to midnight Mass. I guess by now he knew I wasn't a devout Catholic or Catholic at all.

It was midnight when I ran into him and he began to ask me questions. We talked for 4 hours and he heard my whole story. He responded to all my objections of the Church and gave me the Catechism of the Catholic Church. He gave me a tape on former Protestants who became Catholic. At this point I wanted to believe him and I was leaning towards that, but my former strong Protestant beliefs would clash with what he was telling me. Then I got home at 5:00 am and popped the video tape into the VCR. As soon as the tape was over I broke into tears and begged God to take me back.

As I was praying I recalled the times I lived an immoral life, the constant women who came in and out of my life, the days I spent being drunk, all felt too much to bare. That afternoon I woke up and attended my first Mass in over 10 years. Since then I have lived passionately for Jesus, and have begun my relationship with our Blessed Mother. I did as Jesus had asked of his beloved disciple, Behold your Mother and I took her into my home which is my heart. And I do as Mary had said, Do whatever he tells you. And thanks be to God, I do.

In early 2002, my wife and I will be married in the Catholic Church, and though she remains a Protestant I will have enough love for the both of us to live a good Catholic life and show her our faith.

Primo Martinez 

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