I am the only child of older parents. I was born in Plantation Florida. My mother was forty-one years old when I was born, and my father was sixty-one years old. My mother is third generation American also being born in South Florida, where she attended public and Catholic schools. Her ancestry is fifty percent Danish and fifty percent Irish. My father was born and raised in Costa Rica. His ancestry is fifty percent from Spain and fifty percent of the indigenous people of Costa Rica, whose origins are not really known. Both of my parents were raised within the Catholic faith. I have been raised in the Catholic faith, being baptized, receiving first Holy Communion and then participating in the sacrament of Confirmation.
We are a middle class working family. We are not wealthy, but we are comfortable. I have never wanted for anything. We have traveled throughout the United States extensively and I used to spend summers with my father’s family in Costa Rica. We currently do not attend mass regularly as we are on twenty-four hour duty to care for my 100 year-old grandmother. My parents take care of her out of love, but it is emotionally stressful and takes a great deal time. They have tried to prevent any impact on me as much as possible, but I am called to help sometimes. As I started this essay, I looked up the definition of spirituality. According to the Oxford online dictionary, the definition is relating to or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.
Spirituality is something that will change over your lifetime. As Professor Peter Feldmeier states in his interview U.S. Catholic interview for the article What is spirituality? Building a relationship with God is a life-long process of transformation. The key is first figuring out where your heart lies,the purpose of spirituality is transformation. He also believes if you can define what is most important to you and imagine the world to be, then you on your way to figuring out your spirituality.
As Buddha said, just as a candle cannot burn without fire, man cannot live without a spiritual life. Because it is always transforming, there is no beginning and no end. It is constantly changing throughout your lifetime. I believe there will be doubts about your spirituality up until the moment you draw your last breath. That may be the most critical time, and that is when your faith will come into play. What do you believe? How have you behaved based on your beliefs? Are you worthy of salvation? Is there salvation? I agree with this position. I often question my faith and my spirituality. What is important to me changes over time as I learn more about people and the world. I have come to a greater understanding that we are all interconnected as human beings and with God’s other creatures on our planet. As I learn more, my priorities change.
Throughout your life, spirituality and faith will guide your behavior, so it is important to always be aware of what you believe and what your priority are so you can act in accordance with both. My current state of spirituality has been shifting greatly the past few years. I was very self“centered and now I am shifting my priorities to family, friends and the community. I believe the change is the result of observing the love and care my parents give my grandmother. In addition, while completing my service hours, I have met so many other people whose situation in life is very difficult and it helped me know how blessed I really am. Often we feel sorry for ourselves, and as much as I do not like to see others suffer, it certainly changes one’s perspective!
As I continue my journey, I definitely need to talk to others about their spirituality. I also need to read and seek out information so as not to be afraid of any change or transformation. It is easy not to focus on spirituality or faith as by definition they are a belief that you have to somehow convince yourself at each point, it is the right priorities and faith. Then because it is always changing, you are looking for ways to connect the dots, and that is not always easy.
Institutional church offers you guidance in determining priorities and explaining or justifying why those should be your priorities, what you should treasure. However, some churches can also provide mixed messages or as institution not have their priorities in the right order. I believe my relationship with God will strengthen in the future. As I mature, I seem to rely more on my faith, my spirituality and what means living a good life. I do not know if there is a heaven, but in a way to provide comfort for why we live, I would like to think there is and I will someday be there with God.
If I were to sit with Pope Francis, I would challenge him to somehow reduce some of the rigidity and complexity of the church. I am not suggesting to loosen the definitions of what is sinful, or how we should behave, but rather to allow more full participation by regular people and use technology and more modern tools to communicate with the members. I would also suggest the church spend more time helping the poor, elderly, infirmed and less time on collecting and spending money. On the other hand, one of the Church’s strength is tradition. There are some traditions, like the sacraments which make us all the same, as one in God’s love.
If I were ever blessed enough to sit with God, I would want to find out why as humans do we turn on each other the way we do? Why do we have instances of ethnic cleansing? Holocaust? War? Why do we do that? We each value, and when we hurt each other, we are turning our backs on what God has given us. My relationship with God in one word would be loving. I believe God loves all of us and all of creatures on the planet. As the Church teaches, all lives have value and deserve respect. This is the framework of a loving God. The color I see in God is blue. That is the color of the Virgin Mary who gave birth to Jesus. It is also a calm and peaceful color.
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