But I've finished the semester and I'm back in Vancouver, resting up until August. Hopefully the blogging will pick up. As part of the Year of Faith, my pastor (of Christ the Redeemer parish in West Vancouver) has asked people to share short testimonies during Mass every so often. I lucked out and got Trinity Sunday. Here goes:
While not a Cradle Catholic, I was baptized “pretty early,” at 11 years old in this parish. Throughout high school and university, I was pretty steady in my faith. I was involved in campus ministry at my high school (STA), was a leader at youth group at St. Edmund’s in North Van, and starting in Gr. 11, became heavily involved in archdiocesan youth ministry, which I continued doing all the way through university. And of course, I have been involved in youth ministry here at the parish.
What I have realized is that my relationships with others have been vital to my faith, both as support and as a revelation of God’s love for me. This parish community has been my spiritual lifeline for the past four years. My relationships with the youth, with the youth ministry leaders, with the young adult groups, and with Msgr. Smith and Fr. Xavier have all shown me the hope and joy that can only come from God, and it is very humbling to see how I have grown because of the friendships I have with them. But despite all this, I have always struggled to build and grow within the community of my family.
God has challenged me, as Blessed JP II said, “to become who I am.” I just finished my first year in a Masters of Theology program at the John Paul II Institute in Washington, DC. Studying at the institute has allowed me to look at the world differently. The institute has started to beat into my head and my heart that relationships are key, because “to be”, or to exist at all, is to be in relation, and to be part of a family – because God himself is a family, in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and we are made in His image and likeness.
I was not
meant created to live and believe and have faith on my own, and the notion
of complete independence (which still lingers in me) will only prevent me from
“becoming who I am.” Today’s Gospel reading has Relation written all over it,
because that’s Who God is, and that’s who I am supposed to reflect in
everything that I do. I can only be me
in relation to you.
The first clear thought I had when I stepped off the plane at the Vancouver airport about a week ago was this: “I have a lot of work to do.” And I’m not referring, firstly, to forming a Catholic men’s house, or organizing Catholic pub nights, or running logistically and theologically solid youth ministry events. I primarily mean the Family. My family. In reflecting on what I’ve learned this year, and in reflecting on God himself… it all has to go back the family, and then everything else will flourish. I look at the Christ the Redeemer community, and I smile. But my family is also supposed to be a miniature church! My family is supposed to reflect the Trinity! Why do I struggle so much more to live out this beautiful community in my house in North Vancouver? The joy and hope and relation that I live out in this parish, I should be able to live out there. The openness and faith that I live out here, I should be able to live out there.
The community in DC is absolutely amazing. And it would be very easy to stay in DC after I graduate next May. I would be comfortable and established. Except, as seen in the readings last week, the Apostles didn’t stay in the Upper Room after receiving the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. They spoke what they heard; they took what was God’s and declared it to us. They went out, and with God’s grace, they changed the world. God has spoken to me, “Jeremy, you are learning about the theology of marriage and family. Now what are you going to do about it?” I don’t want my home to be just a place where I eat and sleep. That’s not a home – that’s a hotel. The family is where the faith can be cultivated and passed on. If I truly live in my family, if I truly live in relation, then my faith, my other relationships…EVERYTHING will change. God is a family. By living out the truth of my family, I can come to know myself, and in doing so, will come to know God.