by Marie Erickson, Columnist
It may sound strange, but I think I was the most religious I’ve ever been at the age of ten. My dad was raised Catholic and my mom was raised Presbyterian. They did not baptize me as an infant because they wanted to wait until they could settle on one faith for our family to practice together. For most of my childhood, my parents and I went to church at a variety of Christian denominations without belonging to any one faith community in particular. Despite their different religious backgrounds, both of my parents encouraged me to have faith in God from a young age.
When I was in fourth grade, we found a Catholic Church in Pittsburgh with a welcoming and active community of the faithful. My mom and I decided to convert. I received the sacraments of Baptism, First Holy Communion, and Confirmation all in one night during the Easter Vigil Mass of 2008. My mom received First Communion and Confirmation alongside me. For years, I had felt jealous watching many of my peers receive First Communion with their CCD classes in second grade. Now, though, looking back, I am so grateful for my experience joining the faith. Because of my conversion, I realize the incredible blessing we have in being able to worship and love God and grow in our faith as initiated members of the Catholic Church.
Joining the Church has changed my life in more ways that can be summed up in a single blog post. My Catholic faith dictates my actions and entire perception of the world. In particular, though, joining the Church has given me a sense of belonging and purpose that I never had prior. So often, we take for granted that we are able to participate in Mass, receive the sacraments, and live united by Christ’s universal Church. And even though most Catholics are not able to recall their Baptisms, we must never forget the incredible significance of that moment and our continued joy as members of the Church.
Many people–Catholics and non-Catholics, believers and non-believers–do not realize the incredible peace and hope that so many of us experience through our faith. Some perhaps will never have the opportunity to truly be exposed to Catholicism and even religion altogether, let alone be baptized and initiated into the Church.
We often forget that many people do not have the blessing of belonging to a faith community. We frequently focus on our own struggle to develop our spirituality and reignite a freshness to our faiths. In my own life, it’s often the simplest things that bring me back to a strong relationship with God. The fact that we are all called by name in Baptism and welcomed into God’s love through the sacraments is not something that everyone can rely on. As I reflect on my faith and how the Church has impacted my life, I strive to reignite the faith of my ten-year-old self: newly-baptized and energized, finally a part of something far stronger than myself.
Take it from someone who didn’t always have the Church to fall back on. We are blessed beyond belief.