When God brought me to St. Stephen’s in January, He knew this was exactly what I needed. Through the fellowship during Abide and Adore, Catholic Underground and other events, He showed me what it is like to belong to a community in which you do not have to try hard to fit in; you do not have to be “good enough,” or “_____ enough.” You are loved and accepted just as you are. And over time, I realized that that is exactly what His love is like: unconditional and ever-lasting. I realized that I do not have to wait until I am “holy enough” to be worthy of His love, but that right now I can choose to be vulnerable before Him and to invite Him into all parts of my life, especially the dark ones where He brings healing and light. Even when I am a mess, I am still His mess. He longs to be with us, to love us, with all our imperfections and faults. The Cross, the Chalice and the Host, constantly remind me of His love and sacrifice for us, and that we are called to love others like that. He is calling us to not worry about how big of a mess we are, but to turn it into a mess-age of hope and love to those around us.
My friend Emily leads a bible study I am so happy to be a part of! Before attending the first study, I was very anxious because I did not know enough verses word for word and was hesitant to share my thoughts and experiences out of fear of being judged. And yet, less than two minutes into the first study, that group of women made it a safe place where we were able to share our thoughts and get to know God and ourselves in His eyes. As the trust within the group grew, so did my trust in Lord and His Mercy. Through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, spending time before the Blessed Sacrament, and conversations with Fr. Altonji and others, I realized that no matter how far we might drift away, and even when we think that this time we messed up too badly, He is waiting for us with arms wide open, ready to give us a new chance, every single day. His Love and Mercy swallow all our shame and guilt. And what greater Mercy is there than that? What greater hope than in Our Savior?
During my time at St. Stephen’s, He has helped me create a little tabernacle in my heart, which I can turn to at any point to thank Him for the blessings He provides and ask for His help in hardships. His presence there brings peace in the midst of chaos and reminds me that He is always with us. Putting my trust in Him, and being in communion with Him during Mass gives me strength to face anything life brings with great confidence that the Good Shepherd will take care of His sheep. The St. Stephen’s community has helped me realize what our true purpose in life is and to whom we belong. And we ought to act like that. We need to love and serve God and those around us, just as He loves and serves us.