Our Journey Towards Easter Vigil (Faith Stories)
My Journey Back to God
"Jesus is the breadcrumb that leads us back to God’s heart”
~ (unknown author from a homily by Fr Frank Scott)
I will soon receive my confirmation at Easter vigil about 38 years after my first communion. My wife will receive her baptism, first communion and confirmation and our son will be baptized.
My journey back to God begins at around age 9 when I was placed in a public school after being taken out of a Catholic one and no longer attending church.
I attended St. Rita from kindergarten 6 through most of grade 2. I have good memories of St Rita where I said The Lord’s Prayer every morning with everyone and never forgot it. I made two Christmas tree ornaments out of beads ( a candle and a star ) in grade 2. These are very special to me and on some level, kept me connected to God all these years without even realizing it until a few months ago.
Every year when putting up the Christmas tree, from being a kid all the way until now, I made sure to put those ornaments on and my vivid memories of making them in class always came back. I moved just before the school year ended and finished grade 2 at Holy Family.
Then my mother put me in a public school for grade 3. Although I don’t remember exactly how I felt at the time (other than not liking having to move and learn French ) I eventually came to feel as though something had been taken from me. I have some good memories from the public school and made friends, but there was something
When I got to grade 3, I told very few people I came from a Catholic school and quickly decided to never mention it again. If the subject of God came up, I would tell anyone who asked that I didn’t believe in Him because it made no sense. Especially in front of the smartest kid in class who belittled everyone who believed in anything. So I did the same. I didn’t want to look stupid in front of him even though he was an (*insert expletive here*).
Everything stayed the same for many years except I got angrier and angrier, for multiple reasons which I won’t go in to detail here. Growing up without a father didn’t help though and neither did being away from Catholic school and church.
Another thing that kept me connected to God without realizing it until recently, was A Charlie Brown Christmas, which remains my favourite Christmas special of all time. It might seem silly, but I always watch it at least once a year, sometimes twice and have no Christmas memories without seeing it. It’s soaked with Christianity and even when I thought I was a hardcore atheist, I always paid attention to the scene with Linus on stage quoting the King James Version of Luke 2:8-14 telling the story of the birth of Jesus. I told myself that this is where Christmas comes from so of course I have to watch it. I can’t say I love Christmas without being reminded of where it comes from.
Fast forward to my first real job in my early twenties. A girl who worked there briefly told me she was Christian and even played drums in a church band. This made me so angry! But why? I argued with her about religion every chance I got and even photocopied a bunch of pages from science and skeptic magazines and gave them to her. This was the last time I aggressively argued with anyone about religion. She was only nice to me too and I was definitely not. I don’t remember her name, but If I ever meet her again I will apologize and hope she can forgive my disrespectful behaviour.
This was a major step and maybe the real beginning of my long journey back to God.
I think I was so angry with her because she had something that I lost, and I didn’t know how to get it back...or if I even could.
Although I was asked many times over the years, “do you believe in God”, and always said, “no” fairly confidently, I only recall ever being asked, “are you an atheist?” once by a former employee at my current workplace. As I said, “yes” I didn’t like it and I said it with no confidence at all. It felt dishonest and arrogant. I thought about it later that day and decided I was agnostic, but never told anyone other than my wife years later.
This began a very slow long period that only recently concluded of becoming less and less impressed and interested in arguments for atheism from the likes of Bill Maher, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. I was becoming less angry at religion and less angry in general. Only in the past few months have I seen what an angry lot atheists truly are.
I have come to believe that denying God’s existence and fighting against him was a source of anger, arrogance, cynicism and pessimism in me.
My journey accelerated once our son turned 2 a few months ago. I realized in two years or less that he will be going to kindergarten. “Where should he go”?, I wondered. Somewhere where he will learn good morals and values. Somewhere where he will learn about Jesus and his teachings. Catholic school was obvious and we live very close to St. Rita where I went as a child.
I bought bibles (King James and New International versions) and started emailing St. Augustine parish about baptism.
Eventually the priest there (Fr Frank Scott) asked me to come over and meet him. We spoke about my journey and he showed me a DVD called Faith Clips by Bishop Robert Barron, who I have become a big fan of.
The following week I brought my wife, who very much wanted faith and we started meeting every Monday in the conference room. We brought our son one week and Fr Frank gave us a tour of the whole church and showed him where he’d be baptized. He had fun. He had a little too much noisy fun when we brought him to Sunday mass once. A little embarrassing, but he enjoyed himself running up and down the aisle.
I feel blessed that I am able to now continue my journey with my family.
My journey to God - Deep wounds lead to salvation
I was born and raised in a very dysfunctional family in mainland China. Since as young as 4 years old, I have memories of being beaten up by my mother every night when she came home after work. My father neglected me for the majority of the time when I was growing up. Since there wasn’t anyone else around to rescue me, I was always wishing to grow up overnight, so that I could protect myself from my mother. Yet, even after becoming an adult, those deep wounds and pains from my childhood hadn’t left me.
I continued my search for salvation...
Then, Jesus, the Lord found me! As my husband was finding his way back to Catholicism over the years, he found Father Frank to help guide him further which gave me an opportunity. I now had a chance to learn and experience the love of Jesus.
Gradually, I began to feel the presence of and power of God. Even during those really difficult times when I was very young, I now know that Jesus was with me the whole time. It is through his love and his power that I feel less and less anger every day. I know that as long as I’m faithful, Jesus will lead me to salvation!
Thank you, Jesus, for being there for me! Thank you, Jesus, for loving me! Thank you, Jesus, for saving me! I’ll be forever faithful to you.