17 January 2014
WHEN I FIND GOD IN CATHOLIC
This story is about my personal experience and spiritual journey in my life. Please read my story with open eyes and open heart. Thank you very much.
One day in March 2013, just some moments before teaching yoga at a yoga studio, I feel the emptiness in my heart and soul so deeply. My heart is hungrily looking for something. I do not even know what that something is. At that time, I try to fill my soul with a prayer that I know from my previous religion, but I still feel the emptiness. Suddenly it crosses my mind that I need to pray Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be to the Father. I learn these prayers when I attend the Catholic school. It is amazing that after I finish praying with these three prayers, my heart and soul feel so comfortable and happy. I do not feel inner emptiness in my soul anymore. The prayers satisfy my soul and they make me feel calm and peaceful.
From this experience, I desire to go to church myself and try to join the Mass there. But this plan should be postpone because I have to go to Bali to become a volunteer at the Bali Spirit Festival event at the end of the month. On mid-April, I begin to go to the Mass at a church. It turns out that the church becomes the place where I find great peace. Even the journeys to the church are filled with miracles and goodness.
Each time I go to the church, everything feels smooth, even at the odd hours where all the transportations are almost occupied during the office hours or at the times when the weather is not friendly. There are times when the rain pours so badly that caused the traffic jam everywhere and the difficulty to find the transportation. But as soon as I pray those three prayers that I mention at the beginning of this story, the rain gradually stops, the road becomes clear and I get a taxi to go! Yeay! For me, this is a miracle of God. He really wants to show me His miracle. This is not just a coincidence as I believe that there is no coincidence in the dictionary of God.
Just before the Mass at the church begins, we will hear the sound of a small bell in the church that indicates the Mass is about to begin. The sound of the church bells is so soft. We can only hear the sound in and around the church for the distance that is not too far away. From here, I can feel that the gentle call to worship is the symbol that the God in the Catholic religion is so soft in calling out His people.
When I sit inside the church and join the Mass, I am so familiar with the languages used in the worship. Sometimes, I attend the Mass in Indonesian language. At other times, I attend the Mass in English language. There is one Mass that I attend that is presented in Javanese language. Oh yes, I am so familiar with these three languages, so that when I say the prayers, the prayers penetrate my soul and I can easily understand and digest them in my heart. The prayers in the Mass are so simple, short and fun, because the priests and the people also sing some of the prayers. All of the prayers and songs by the priests and the people, and all the words of God shared by the priests are about love, kindness, forgiveness and grace from the God. Sometimes, the priests also share stories about the church's opinion about topics and issues that are popular in the society, but the discussion is through love and kindness approach. There is even one priest who always asks the people to hold our hearts before hearing the words of God and he is going to pray that we open our hearts to receive the words of God. Usually, hearing the words of God from this priest will make my eyes shed tears because of the way he touches our hearts. The worships in the church make my heart become more peaceful and happy.
In the Mass, the men and women are placed and sit together side by side. As a woman, I can worship God at anytime that I want, even when I have a menstruation. The God in the Catholic religion is so kind to us to accept all His people together and side by side without having to be separated, and in any state of health and condition of the body.
The way to dress up for the Mass is not too difficult and does not require many terms and conditions. By simply wearing decent clothes, then we can join the Mass comfortably. Because it only takes an open heart to attend the Mass at the church. As a woman, I do not need to wear special costumes in the church and outside the church as a form of obedience to the Catholic religion. For me, it feels that the Catholic religion is simple and not that difficult. The Catholic religion also teaches that the faith grows from an open and sincere heart, not by wearing a particular costume.
After the Mass is finished, I still continue to receive the goodness of God in the church environment.
The priests will usually be standing outside or behind the church after the Mass to meet and greet his people one by one, both men and women, and giving thanks to them. For me, shaking hands with the priests is a blessing itself. If the handshake is a sign of peace, then shaking hands with the priests is the sign of peace and blessing from God that are given through the hands of the priests. They feel so warm in my heart. May God always bless my beloved priests!
There is a time when I met a woman from the Philippines who share the only praying sheet she has to me after the Mass is finished. When I try to refuse it because I feel a bit uncomfortable receiving the prayer sheet that might still be needed by her, she advices me not to worry because she would always get another prayer sheet from the church. It is indeed a genuine kindness to share! The prayet sheet contains a prayer to the Chaplet to Divine Mercy in English taken from St. Maria Faustina's diary, which becomes my Chrismation or Confirmation name later on.
Inside and outside the church, we could find many prayer sheets in every corner in the church, either in the form of books, leaflets, brochures and copies. Usually, the people themselves who put these prayer papers as the sign of gratitude that their prayers are answered by God.
Inside myself, I find the healing after I frequently join the Mass in the church and pray based on the teachings of the Catholic religion. There are a lot of emotional pains inside my body and there is something stuck in my body. In the past, these two things would not want to heal and disappear from my body. After I frequently go to the church and pray based on the teachings of the Catholic religion, the emotional wounds heals slowly and something on my body slowly disappeares. Now my life becomes lighter and happier, and I feel more peaceful. I believe that God wants to heal me in His very special way.
From the activities in the church, I also learn about the beauty of sharing. The more often we share, the more often we get good return, perhaps even better, which in the end we have to share it again. An amazing cycle! In the church, we are trained to give alms by dropping money into the boxes, and to be active in a variety of other activities outside of the Mass. These things leave deep impressions in my mind, so now I'm happy to share anything with others.
Finally, I decided to join the Catechumenate process for adults (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults), which is the learning process for baptismal candidates (Catechumens). Together with the other catechumens, we learn that the Catholic religion is the happy news for those who seek it, and that God is the love and compassion that lives in our hearts and soul. I end up taking my own conclusion that we need to find our own God, and that religion should be studied by those who would want to hold them.
And guess what? I get one more miracle from God at my Catechumenate process, that the local priest changes the date of my baptism process from the schedule on March 2014 to early December 2013! A great special miracle for me! God bless my beloved priest! From this miracle, I really feel that the love of God is incredible. He does not let me wait for too long in front of His front yard to really get into His house. Even in my imagination, God does not just open the door of His house wide open, but He also takes my hands and pulls them so that I can immediately go into His house and hug Him tightly.
My longing for God has found its destination when I walk into His path called the Catholic religion. Yes, I find Him in this way! I do not only find God, but God himself comes to me and meets me in a special way through all the blessings, peace, goodness, healing and miracles that He shows and gives me. I believe that He saves me from the wrong path of way and life.
My current God is so nice and kind! I love Him so much. Thank you, my God, my source of compassion.
So, at the beginning, my name was Astrid Amalia. Now, my name becomes Theresia Maria Faustina Astrid Amalia. Theresia is my Baptismal name I take from St. Therese of the Child Jesus, the Little Flower and Small Road which is also the Protector of the Mission and the Doctor of the Church. Maria Faustina is my Chrismation or Confirmation name I take from St. Maria Faustina who wrote a diary about the Divine Mercy. Dear my Saints, please protect me!
After I officially have the Catholic religion in my soul, I really feel that the blessing of God is magnificent. As a human being, I may rely with my own power. But when I combine my own power with the prayers to God directly or through Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, Joseph, the Holy Spirit, the Angels and the Saints, then the result will be much better and more powerful that I need to share them with others. Once again, this is a wonderful cycle that God shows me.
On my spiritual way to find my current God, from all the supports that come from my friends and a small part of my family who really understand me, I also have to experience something else that comes from other people around me. There are small stones and holes on my way to find my current God.
One of the closest relatives of the family who knows that I start to go to the church says that if I convert my religion to the Catholic, then I will add the sin to my parents and send them to hell. My answer is simple, that if one should be sent to hell, that person would be me, because the decision to convert comes from myself. My parents will surely go to heaven for giving the perfect basic religious education which is more than enough. The religious education at home is about the religion I had before and the religious education at school is about the Catholic religion. And I think it is more than enough!
After I am baptized, one of my friends said that there are flaws in the Catholic religion, and that I am just a beginner in this Catholic religion that I do not have the right to response to the increasing attacks from other religions to the Catholic. Deep down in my heart, I pray that may the flaws in my Catholic religion make its people to be more humble and low profile in executing their love to our own God. And I pray that may I always be the beginner in my Catholic religion forever, so that I can keep learning about the beauty to love God and other living beings in a way that is taught by the Catholic religion. Amen!
My spiritual journey has not finished yet. I believe that there will be other spiritual journeys in my life given by my current beloved God, and it will be more interesting and valuable. I am thankful that my current God is willing to provide His valuable time to knock my heart and call me in His special way through the Catholic religion in my heart now. In the end, He now lives inside me, in my mind, my heart and my soul. May God and His blessings are always placed within me forever.
Once again, my current God is very nice and kind. I love Him. Thank you, my great and good God!
Dei Gratia. By the grace of God! May I and all living beings in the universe are always blessed by the glory, the majesty and the good heart of my God now and forever.
(Note: The picture is taken at St. Theresia Church, Menteng, Central Jakarta, Indonesia)