Last week my staff and I spent a wonderful two days out at the Tyburn Monastery on retreat. What a fantastic way to start the year. One of the highlights for me was sitting in Mass and hearing the nuns pray for our school and our students. Forget about all of the paperwork, planning and other prep that foreshadows a school year – this was probably the most effective prep we could get!
While out there I met a visiting priest from Sydney – he is the rector of the seminary there and was staying at Tyburn for a couple of weeks, ministering to the nuns and preparing his new paper on moral theology. As you can imagine, we had some great chats.
When he first met me he asked me a question, "Where did you get your faith?". I answered that I was a "cradle Catholic", but he said that there are many cradle Catholics that have lost their faith and he asked me again, "Where did you get your faith?" We were interupted at that point so I never got to answer him, but it's something I've thought a lot about over the past week.
I guess my faith came from many places. I had a very strong Catholic upbringing, but then so did my brother and he is no longer Catholic. I got a great Catholic education and was taught by nuns, but then so was everyone else in my class and I believe there are only two of us still attending Mass.
I think my faith came from an uncanny combination of things…
- my Catholic upbringing and education
- the fact that all of the rituals, symbols and stories really appealed to me as a little girl – much more so than others in my class – I would spend hours pouring over our family bible or reading the lives of the Saints
- I spent most of my 20s away from the faith and only came back to it when I was living in England. It was like coming "home" and gave me stability and a link to my family who were so far away
- I was lucky enough to have some amazing Catholic experiences at around this same time while I was travelling – mass with Pope John Paul II, a visit to Walsingham, a Good Friday pilgrimage through the streets of Florence, a week in Rome – all of these made me aware that I was part of something much bigger than just my little parish in NZ
- My brother became a Pentecostal Christian and began constantly questioning what Catholics believe – which meant that I had to upskill and really think about what we believe and why we believe it
- My job as a DRS where I lived and breathed Catholicism for 4 years – both at home and at work
- Getting sick and having to depend on God big-time certainly made my faith stronger
- Through my work, getting to know some pretty amazing Catholics – the people who run Hearts Aflame, numerous priests, the nuns at Tyburn, elderly parishioners etc.
And, that's why my faith is so strong. Of course, the seed came from God, but all of these experiences and many others watered it and grew it.
I'd love to hear from some of you… where did you get your faith?