No 5 also turns seven today.
I have realized lately that my Catholic identity is as much a part of me as my eye color, my hairstyle, or the size of my backside. (I know that sounds crass, but let me explain) People don't have to be around me more than a minute or two before they know I am Catholic. I talk about my faith always. I am proud of my Catholic identity. I am fortunate enough to live in an area of our state that has a strong Catholic presence.
I have not always been this fortunate. When I was a child, I grew up in another town, in another state, where ours was one of perhaps 15 or 20 practicing Catholic families. Many times in high school I was asked why we worshiped statues or worshiped Mary. I didn't understand the question. Not only had I never worshiped anyone but the Trinity, there was such poor Catechism that I was not properly armed with the tools to defend my faith.
Though I have a lifetime of growing still to do, I have come so far.
Just yesterday I was able to defend the Catholic faith to two Jehovah's Witness believers who came to my doorstep. They wanted to talk to me about John 3:16 and how God can change people's life, they wanted to ask me if I knew why Jesus had to die, and tell me how there were many misconceptions about their religion.
I took that Bible from that JW man and turned to John Ch 6. I reminded him that in the Bible Jesus was very clear to say when something was a parable. I pointed out that in John Ch 6, when Christ is referring to His Body and Blood as true food that it does not say "the parable of the Eucharist". Over and over Jesus says that we Will Not have life within us if we do not eat His flesh and drink His blood.
Many times, many ways. Red letters.
Not a parable.
This, the Eucharist, is the source and summit of our faith and I was able to tell those JW guys about it. I took it a step further, I invited them to Mass. I told them that I understood what they meant when they said people believed misconceptions about their religion. (We don't worship statues people!)
They really really wanted me to take their Watchtower magazine. I told them that I would take it and although I wasn't planning on reading it, I would keep it on my table as a reminder to pray for unity. They decided not to leave it.
I could feel the Holy Spirit behind me cheering me on the whole time.
After I told them how I admired them for going door to door helping to spread their faith (something we can all learn from), I shook their hands and said goodbye and came back inside. My smile was all over my face, and although my weak knees were making a strange knocking sound, I thanked God aloud for the opportunity to be a "witness" to the Witnesses
This morning No 1 calls from college to wish her littlest sister a very happy birthday. She and her roommate had already been to Mass (6:30 a.m. people!!!) and would be going to class soon. Proud and amazed at my firstborn I asked if she was going to leave her ashes on all day. She made a sound that made me think she was considering wiping them off.
"You are a witness to your faith!" I encouraged her, "Today is the perfect opportunity to teach someone about the Lenten season."
She said, "Y'know, growing up in Catholic school, where everybody knew it was Ash Wednesday, went to Mass, got their ashes, and knew what Lent is.... I dunno, it's weird being in the minority," she admitted.
"Yes, now is the time in which you go out into the world sharing your faith."
Praying tonight that all my children will retain their strong Catholic identity and not be afraid to be a light in the world.