I definitely wouldn’t consider myself an open book in general, especially regarding religion. But, a lot of my spirituality has actually come from my being here at Catalina, so considering I probably will never have another chance to talk about my religion in front of a large group of people I actually like, I want to share my honest and unedited letter to the bishop about why I wish to be confirmed in the Catholic Church, because it sort of doubles as a reflection on my time here. It goes like this:
Dear Bishop Garcia,
I have wanted to continue my Catholicism this year through Confirmation for several reasons. Perhaps my most driving force is that I never want to lose faith. I am headed to college next year. I am certain I will lose my way more than a few times. I will no longer be required to show up to Sunday mass, and in many ways I’ll be held less accountable for my actions. I never want to forget or push aside some of the most spiritually formidable moments I’ve had these past four years.
Until Catalina, religion was never incorporated into my schooling or daily life. My parents had me baptized as a matter of course, I had my first communion, and I went to mass maybe six times out of the year when I lived in San Francisco. It was not until my sophomore year here when I really felt the value and the extremely strong connection to God and the saints that I do today.
The simple comfort of having the doors to our Rosary Chapel open at all times has enabled it to serve as my safe space. I’ve cried in those very pews and questioned life, my existence, and my purpose more than you’d think.
I once spent some time with a legitimate horse whisperer and he told me something that has stuck with me forever and that is: “You are 100% responsible for 50% of every relationship that you’re in.” So, my intention in going through Confirmation this year has been to at least try and figure out if I can even get my “relationship percentage” with God up to 10%. My biggest hope for the future is to one day never see religion as an on-and-off switch. It is so easy for me to connect with God and pray in troubled times when I’m upset, confused, and in doubt. That said, when things are going well in my life, and I am content with where I am, I have much more trouble connecting to God and the saints.
But I no longer want to lean on my faith only in times of trouble; I want it to be present with me at all times. I truly want my faith to withstand my life’s journey, and I hope that one day my faith will become a more fluid part of me.
I see God in the unexpected places. I remember sobbing in these pews when my grandfather died, when best friend’s dad committed suicide, when I was in the middle of the college application process, and when I’ve been tested in relationships with loved ones. I can distinctly recall a flash of light, a flickering of a candle, and other more personal signs that have made me certain I am not alone.
I have so much hope and expectation for my future. I have so much happiness and love within me. God has blessed me in more ways than I can count. I am extremely thankful. My greatest wish is for God to continue to guide me through times both troubled and wonderful, to bless me in moments both good and bad, and to always be with me—even when I’m in doubt.
It is my promise to God and our world to give back and share the gifts and talents he’s blessed me with.
I hope throughout my life that God continues to instill graciousness, humility, and strength in me. I want to continue to become a better friend, daughter, student, employee, and leader. As I continue to grow, I want to act more softly with more kindness, openness, and love. All around, I am so blessed and could not be more thankful for the life I have been given. I will miss this time in my life, this chapel, and those who have touched me. I will always hold my years here at Santa Catalina deep in my heart, knowing it was my purpose to spend my time here and not anywhere else. I thank you for your time, for the gift of my confirmation, and my future. Please bless me, my family, my loved ones, and those in need.
Lastly, to God, I thank you from the bottom of my heart, even when I don’t express it.