Thursday, September 28, 2006

Be Not Afraid - Means more to me than ever before

In my constant struggle to regain my Faith after this past year, I think Faith is finally winning out...

To backtrack a bit, many moons ago, when I was a wee baby, my mom made the decision not to have me baptized (nor my older brother). To this day, I am still not sure why, but it was what it was. And it was left at that.

My grandmother, however, felt I needed SOMETHING to count on and believe in, so she used to take me to mass (both at a Roman Catholic church and a Eukrainian Eastern Orthodox church - some masses being in Latin, no less!), teach me prayers, and try to cement some sort of Faith in my life.

When we moved from Hillside to Union in 1983, my parents ended up sending me to St. Michael's School because the closest public grammar school (which is what I was used to) was just too far away to walk. Mass was required every first Friday in the month - and, every first Friday, my classmates would ask the same old question: Why aren't you going to Communion? My answer: I wasn't Catholic.

When I started Mother Seton Regional High School, masses were required there too (like, duh! It was a catholic school too.). So, the same question would arise: Why aren't you going to Communion? My answer yet again: I wasn't Catholic.

Something changed in me after my first year at Mother Seton and I decided to go through the RCIA and finally become Catholic... I was baptized, made my first communion and confirmation at the Easter Vigal Mass in April 1989. It was a very special day...and from then forward, my Faith blossomed.

In college (yep, you guessed it, a Catholic - errh, Jesuit! - college: University of Scranton), I became involved in Eucharistic ministry and the choir. I went on retreats and became closer and closer with God.

After college, I still tried to go to mass as often as I could, and was also still involved in some retreats for high school youth. But, as time went on, my Faith began to wain a bit - not dissolve, but just not become stronger.

After Hubby and I were married, we were a little taken aback by how some things in the Roman Catholic church were so, well, judgemental and hypocritical: At our Pre-Cana meetings, there were couples there who were CLEARLY not ready to get married, yet they were okay'ed to by the priest; friends of ours were allowed to get married without additional counseling after their personality questionnaires required by the Archdiocese proved them to be "incompatible"; the priest who married us (who is a VERY close friend of ours) left the priesthood after he was struggling with feelings for a woman he counciled and his superiors told him he could have "something on the side" and still be a priest as long as he kept it hush-hush. There is more...but, I think this is enough for now.

So, church attendance began to fall to the wayside...until I learned I was pregnant with Christopher. We felt we needed to start going again, which we did faithfully every week at Our Lady of Sorrows (eventually, Chris will be going to school there too) until after Chris was born. We stopped going for a bit because we didn't want him out in public until he had his first immunizations - but, by 6 weeks, Chris was baptized and we started going again sporadially.

....Then, I had the miscarriages...and my Faith was torn apart.

I have been angry for a long time now at God: How could He take away lives that were so special and pure, who we so desperately wanted? How could God allow my friend S to not be able to have a child for 4 freakin years and still stuggle with IF now? Yet, how could God allow some woman who could give a rat's ass about a child have a child and completely ruin that child's life? It just didn't seem fair - and I have been pissed off.

But, that obviously changed when we found out about Hubby's cousin Suzi's pregnancy and how she came to make the decision to keep her baby and get married (see How my miscarriages have brought forth new life). I began to see how my hurts could affect someone else's life (especially that of this new life growing, or Big Mac as the baby is being called). And, I ran across the blog of my friend C's hubby, T: Confessions of a Former Dawg. Reading through some of his posts, and seeing how he relates his Faith to the struggles that their son faces, gave me a new take on my Faith. And, I am very glad for that.

All of this brings me back to one of my favorite Catholic Hymns which, for reasons that were unknown to me then but are being realized now, I have always been drawn to and cry to.

Be Not Afraid
written by Bob Dufford, S.J., a Catholic Hymn
text based on Isaiah 43:2–3; Luke 6:20.

You shall cross the barren desert,
but you shall not die of thirst.
You shall wander far in safety,
though you do not know the way.

You shall speak your words in foreign lands,
and all will understand,
You shall see the face of God and live.

Be not afraid,
I go before you always,
Come follow Me,
and I shall give you rest.

If you pass through raging waters
in the sea, you shall not drown.
If you walk amidst the burning flames,
you shall not be harmed.

If you stand before the pow'r of hell
and death is at your side,
know that I am with you, through it all

Be not afraid,
I go before you always,
Come follow Me,
and I shall give you rest.

Blessed are your poor,
for the Kingdom shall be theirs.
Blest are you that weep and mourn,
for one day you shall laugh.

And if wicked men insult and hate you, all because of Me,
blessed, blessed are you!

Be not afraid,
I go before you always,
Come follow Me,
and I shall give you rest.

I think I am coming to an understanding of why this hymn means so much to me... And, I am at peace.


Joy said...

You are in my prayers as you continue to seek answers that only God knows. So glad to see you find some peace that can only be found in Him.

Jessica said...

What a great hymn and it is wonderful that you can see that.