Have you ever known a child that seems to break every single rule they don’t know and when you tell them the rules, they always find some way to break it again by using a loophole? Well unfortunately that was me. Between turning a hairspray can into a flame thrower to getting thrown out of religion class ever Wednesday, I could be quiet a handful. Because of this I grew up in an environment with a large emphasis on following the rules. This led me to the thought that Catholicism was mostly about following a set of rules in order to not go to hell. Over the years, I got very involved in my parish in Vancouver and my faith was an integral part of making decisions in my life making sure I followed every last rule. However I began to make decisions which were not in keeping with my faith and slowly started down a slippery slope. This led me to living a double life where the people around me had a pretty pious image of me but they were actually in the dark about the decisions I made against the faith. I had some bad experiences in confession and so I feared telling a priest about all the things I had done.
When I arrived in Saskatoon, I was still not ready to confront the faith crisis that I was experiencing. However God had other plans. I was connected with CCO and was soon enrolled in a faith study and also the fall retreat. When I arrived at the retreat I was not sure what I was going to get out of it. I felt horribly unworthy to be with such faithful people. I quickly began to feel guilty for the double life I was living. There was a talk about sin and what it does to our souls that really cut to my heart. I didn’t want to be separated from my God. Right then and there I made up my mind; I had to go make an honest confession. When I came out of confession I felt completely at peace and it was as if a weight was lifted off of my shoulders. It was truly an amazing feeling! Later on during that retreat, I made a decision to recommit to Jesus by putting him at the centre of my life.
Since the retreat, I have grown to learn that the Catholic faith is about more than just following the rules. It’s about a personal relationship with a God who loves me. This December I attended Rise Up, which is CCO’s national conference, and my faith grew even deeper! I realized that God wanted still more for my life and so I’m striving every day to be all that I can be for God. The words of John Paul II, “Do not be afraid, Open wide the doors for Christ”, have continued to inspire me. There is an amazing life waiting for us if our confidence is put in the Lord. I have realized that God loves me no matter what and will always be there for me and He has this same love for all of you. Knowing God’s unconditional love and forgiveness, I ask myself a question every day that I invite you to think about for yourself. Reflect on this parody of the words of JFK, ‘Ask not what God can do for you, Ask what you can do for God’, because in return I know God will be with you and love you for eternity.