Nine months after my wedding day in an Episcopal Church, my husband and I were blessed with our first child. Becoming a mother and starting our family was when I first began my path towards Catholicism. They say that the child will lead them and in my case, God used my child – my motherhood- to lead me to the Church. At that time, my husband and I were discontent with the Episcopal Church, mostly because of its moral teachings, so we began searching. I would open the religion section of the Dallas Morning News and we would choose a place that sounded interesting – all Christian, Protestant churches. We did this for several months and have great memories from that time, but didn’t find what we were searching for.
We were only 20 years old, married with a child, and still students at the University of Dallas. As a new wife and mother, I really enjoyed learning about the Church’s beautiful teachings on marriage and family. Everything about it resonated with me and I began to develop a healthy Protestant respect for the Catholic Church. My husband and I enjoyed discussing these topics and how to apply them to our marriage and children, but we never even discussed becoming Catholic. In fact, even though we were living on a Catholic campus, it never even occurred to us to attend a mass.
The Holy Spirit continued to draw me closer to the Church through a required theology class at UD, where we read the Early Church Fathers. These men that had lived so close to the time of Christ were writing about their worship, and what they were describing was a Catholic mass and the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist. I realized that this church that I had already begun to admire, might also be the church that Christ had founded, and the church which he intended for me, and maybe even intended for us all.
My husband and I continued to have many discussions about Catholicism but never about becoming Catholic. Then one day, we were sitting in the car at the University and out of nowhere, I said “Have you ever felt like God is calling us to join the Catholic Church?” The look on his face was hard to read, and he paused a minute and then replied, “30 seconds ago I asked God to have to you say something to me about becoming Catholic, as a sign of confirmation.” We both sat there quietly for a long time. It isn’t often that God gives us bright neon signs, but this one couldn’t have been any brighter. From that point on we knew that we were being called to the Catholic Church, and all of the questions we had about the faith didn’t have to be answered right away.
We began studying and learning as much as we could – but that gift of confirmation meant we didn’t have to have all of the answers. We had a lifetime to learn more about the faith. So we joined the Church in Easter of 2000 and have never looked back. Time passed quickly and our little family quickly grew into a big family. By the fall of 2015, I was expecting our 7th child and life was good.
That August, however, everything changed, as we experienced our first real cross in our marriage and family. My husband got very sick and wasn’t able to work. It took a year to diagnose and another year to recover. When my 7th child was born, he had no job and no diagnosis. Things were grim.
When we had chosen the Gospel reading for our wedding, some 18 years earlier, someone teased us about being careful which passage we chose, that it would likely have an impact on our lives. We laughed it off and continued forward with our plans – to have Matthew 6:25-34 read. It resonated with us. There we were, very young adults without two pennies to rub together, two more years of college to finish. We felt that we were called to marriage but didn’t have any answers about exactly how we would make the details of it work. So, we stuck with our Gospel reading, and it has been a source of strength for us during our marriage, and in my mothering, but particularly during our time of crisis. It is such a great and concrete reminder that God has given to all of us, a reminder that He knows our needs and will take care of us…. And He is faithful!
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wildflowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? So do not worry and say, “What are we to eat?” or “What are we to drink?” or “What are we to wear?”. All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself…” Matthew 6:25-34.
Thanks be to God, we can now talk about that crisis in the past tense. God has been faithful, just as he promised in the Book of Matthew, and has provided for us every step of the way, and sometimes in miraculous ways. There have been many times that it was evident that God’s hand was at work.
People would sometimes ask me how did we make it, how did we keep going? Oddly enough, there was a strong sense of peace, even though there wereso many unanswered questions. St Rose of Lima has a quote and it is great to hold on to for anyone going through a crisis. “The gift of grace increases as the struggle increases”. When you are given your cross, whatever it may be, God also gives all of the grace you will need to carry it.
In motherhood, there are many crosses of varying sizes. Some crosses are small and passing, and some are larger and life-changing. But God is faithful. He will not leave you. He will give you the grace needed. He will provide for your needs. These are all promises – you can claim them and count on them. God is faithful!