Walking Our Faith: As essential as air
Walking Our Faith
When my grandmother emigrated to the United States from Hungary, she was a young Catholic woman, alone in an unfamiliar land. She got married, moved to Cleveland, where, as was typical of many émigrés, she lived in a neighborhood of fellow Hungarians.
One day a woman from the local Hungarian Pentecostal Church came to visit and invited her to church. Grandma went and soon afterwards became a member, was filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke in tongues, and left her Catholic faith.
My mother was born into the Pentecostal church went to a Pentecostal Bible college, became a missionary in Alaska before Alaska was a state, and like her mother was filled with the Holy Spirit, and spoke in tongues during prayer.
When I was a young girl my family briefly attended a Pentecostal church but over the years moved to a conservative Presbyterian church, which continues to be my mother’s church home at the age of 92.
I attended the University of Michigan on a swimming scholarship. One of my teammates was Catholic and I went to Mass with her one Sunday, and then spent the next several years in search of a church I could call my spiritual home.
I tried churches of every Christian denomination, as well as doing a lot of reading about non-Christian traditions, because as my mother often reminded me, her father was Jewish.In the end, I kept coming back to the Catholic Church. Seven years after my initial visit, by this time I was working in New York City, I made a formal commitment to join the Catholic Church.
It’s been over 30 years and yet I honestly believe I am more in love with my Catholic faith now than when I first joined. I believe it is because the parish we have in Summit County is vibrant and I am constantly learning more about my faith.
My mother and I lived together for twenty-five years after my father passed away. During that time Mom attended Catholic Masses with me and yet as soon as I moved to Breckenridge and she returned home to Florida in 2016, she immediately returned to her Presbyterian Church.
I love my Catholic faith and cannot imagine being anything other than Catholic, but should I say to my grandmother or my mother, “You are wrong”? My mother reads her Bible daily and has done so for ninety years. She would laugh at my naïveté. And rightly so. She fasts weekly, spends hours each day speaking with God, often speaking in tongues, should tell her she’s mis-guided?
If we are to claim an authentic relationship with God, which I believe is the only one worth pursuing, then we must follow our own heart to seek God, not in the tradition of our parents or grandparents, not because a particular church is closest to our house, but because we find a place where we discover God speaking to us. And yes, God is always speaking with us, we just don’t always listen.
I read this passage by St. Paul this morning and it conveys what I want to share: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So, neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth…For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. (1 Corinthians 3:6-7)
God loves you and wants a real and personal relationship with you. Find a place where God speaks to you and go there so you can learn more about your faith and be part of a vibrant, God-centered community. And don’t forget God the other six days of the week, let Him be part of your everyday.
A daily relationship with God is as essential to life as the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat. This personal relationship is what I hope for everyone. It is beyond theology, beyond the confines of church, or religion. It is the relationship between a soul and its Creator. It is the gift we receive when we know we are loved even when we don’t love ourselves, because we are loved by the One who created us and can never stop loving us.
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column Walking Our Faith publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Suzanne has written 10 novels and non-fiction books on faith, her latest novel is A Map of Heaven. She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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