I never had the courage or the strength throughout my childhood or part of my adulthood to come to a realization that I needed God in my life. I was always the person who thought I had total control of my life not the man upstairs. Even at my darkest moments I was not a believer. After the birth of my second child I had a thought....maybe I should let God in our lives for the sake of my children (not really thinking of myself) what could it hurt. So I did what I never thought I would ever do. I went to the Catholic church by myself one evening just to see if it was something I would like to introduce to my children...again not myself. Being very honest here, the only reason I went to the Catholic church was because this is where my grandma and aunt and uncle had went....was looking for something familiar and comfortable. I found my way in and slid into the pew closest to the entrance of the church. I'm not sure if this was because I thought I may change my mind and wanted closest to the exit or if I thought by being in the back nobody would notice my presence. If you have never been to a mass the traditions that take place seem very odd especially when you don't know why certain things are taking place and why. Curiosity got the best of me....I wanted to know more so I continued to go. After several weeks of going I wanted to know more so I was literally glued to my computer researching everything I needed to know about Catholicism. I had even called the church I was signing up for RCIA classes to become a member of the church. When I shared with friends or family my new adventure I always got the "what made you decide to do that?" I still stuck with I'm doing this for my kids. Strangely I had not yet taken either of my children to church with me and was still on this journey alone. Until I had the moment....one Sunday morning mass while I was there (alone) the organ was playing and the parish members were chanting (singing) the entrance hymn, the sun was beaming through the beautiful stained glass behind the alter, and I stood there with tears rolling down my face. Something I cannot even explain had come over me. It was a ton of different emotions from happy I was there to experience what was taking place yet sadness that I had never experienced this feeling before. It was my moment my reality check of God needs to be in my life not just my children's life. I had always longed for something more in my life and this was it. My key to happiness. It seemed so easy, so easy that it made me angry. Why had I not thought of this along time ago or why was this never introduced into my life as a child. I became very thirsty for more. The RCIA process had started and we had our first meeting. We were asked by Father Hollowell to read the Catholic Catechism for Adults. I had it read in two weeks. Every spare moment I was turning page after page. Everything made so much since and the truth was all right there in front of my eyes. I even had a few moments that brought me to tears reading.
"The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God (CCC, no. 1035). It is impossible for us to be united with God if we refuse to love him. When we sin seriously against God, neighbor, or self, we have failed to love God. Persistence in a state of serious sin reflects a choice to reject God's love and an intention to separate ourselves from him. Freely chosen eternal separation from communion with God is called hell. While images of fire have been used traditionally to picture hell, for example in the Scriptures, the reality exceeds our ability to describe pain of isolation that come from rejecting God's love.
I continued taking the RCIA class every Wednesday evening for about 6 months. In this time period my faith grew stronger and stronger. Not only was I able to get answers to questions but got to spend the evening with friends on the same path as I was. I couldn't have asked for a more patient, humble, and kind teacher, Fr. Hollowell. For him I will forever be greatful in guiding me on my journey.
Easter weekend of this year was the exciting moment of confirmation. On that Friday Father left the church doors open over night for anyone who wanted to spend time with God. I most definitely took advantage of this. I was experiencing a lot of emotions knowing that Saturday night was it "confirmation". I couldn't sleep Friday night because my mind was racing. I found myself at church that night at midnight. I was there asking God if I was worthy enough for what I was about to experience the next evening at confirmation and for the rest of my life. I prayed the rosary and asked Mary for her intercession. I once again experienced what I had experienced that one Sunday in mass. Only this time I knew what the tears were. A sense of peace had come over me.
I awoke on Saturday morning with a message from Father that it was time for confession. Oh boy, I was scared to death! The drive to church that morning (mind you I only live three blocks away) was the longest drive ever! I had 35 years worth of sin to confess. How in the world had I functioned with all that sin for so many years. Actually, I wasn't functioning very well I just thought I was. Once I left the confessional I was more than ready for confirmation that evening. I was at peace and my soul had been cleansed of all those years of sin that were just waiting to come out. With everything I had experienced in those two days was just a confirmation to me that I was more than worthy to have God in my life.
Saturday evening at Easter Vigil, myself and four others were confirmed. It was the most beautiful mass I had ever been too and it was my time. I took in every moment possible and I know my grandma was there with me in spirit. She was probably the most proud. Every member in the church held a lit candle for the mass. I couldn't have been more happy for myself and the others receiving communion for the first time in the Catholic church. All the parish members couldn't be more welcoming and I am proud to say I have found my home. She is the most beautiful home I have ever been in.
I am so proud of the journey I have been through and the journey ahead of me. It is very clear to me that Catholicism was always there waiting on me to explore. However, God new that now was my time in order for me to embrace it the way he always wanted me to. So here you have it...I can answer the question without using the excuse of my children.... I don't want to go to hell!!! When my time comes for my last judgement I want to be the sheep not the goat. I want to live my life to the fullest. I want to be happy. I want to love and be loved. I thought this was what everyone wanted and I thought this was what I had all along. Now I know what the true meaning of love and happiness is. Thanks be to God! I now have a loving relationship with God and this was truly the key to my happiness
Jesus Christ, my God, I adore You and thank you for all the graces You have given me this day.
I offer You my sleep and all the moments of this night, and I beg of you to keep me without sin.
Therefore, I put myself within Your sacred side and under the mantle of Our Lady, my Mother.
Let Your holy angels stand about me and keep me in peace; and let your blessing be upon me.