You would think that I’d get homesick from staring at these. God instilled peace in my heart to leave home with hopeful happiness, knowing that I’ll have all of you, and more, to come home to soon. So I stare at the photos with a big smile because I am reminded that I am incredibly blessed to have each of you in my life. You’ve all taught me different things; things that have either impacted my life in enormous ways and even in little. Some I’ve only met and got close to recently, others I’ve known my whole life. But regardless of measurements or time, you’ve all helped me become who I am today. Prior to the flight out of DC, I was very nervous about living on my own and being away from my family and friends, considering the fact that I’ve never left once before. But by the grace of God, the nervousness disappeared and it’s actually not so bad at all, not even all the way here in Italy. He was well aware of my intentions and He answered them.
Aside from working hard this semester abroad to get the grades I will deserve, and aside from the traveling and sightseeing aspect of the trip, I was originally really looking forward to being alone so I have time to myself to reflect on where I’m at in regards to my spiritual life and deepening my relationship with Him. God wasted no time whatsoever and got to work with my life here, in Florence. I could recall last summer when I’d tell people that there’s so much more to learn about the Catholic faith and how it would be a lofty task to take in everything in such a short period of time. I’d always remind myself, “God willingly, I’ll be back.” And to my ultimate surprise, I’m back. I’m here.
I told my mom in a surprise letter that I left in her bag that God’s plans are always better than ours. We can say this, plan that, and it’ll go through most of the time, but none of those plans can equate to His. I gave myself a couple of years to be back here. He gave me 7 months. 7 months? So soon! Like I always said before, it’s as if He wants me to be here. Weeks leading up to my departure I would persistently ask God, “why?” Not as any kind of a complaint, but as a way of appreciating His blessings, of course.
And now, I feel that I’m beginning to understand why I’m here. Although I’m apart from the ones I love most, being alone also has some advantages. Of course it’s a lot more challenging when you’re not in your comfort zone and don’t have the usual people encouraging you to maintain particular habits, but I’m totally up for it. Praise God for taking me out, for helping me remember that it should be a lot less focus on self and a whole lot more on Him.
While writing this entry, I came across this excerpt from the book The Radical Cross:
I left home with bits and pieces of baggage remnants but I’m ready to lift it all up. The crosses I left for Christ to carry, I am now taking them on my own while He is there to walk with me, talk with me, and endlessly encourage me to continue on. I am here to seek Him and to strengthen that companionship. What better way to drive myself to seek God and God alone when I have no one else? It’s all starting to make sense now.
I received an email from a brother a couple of days ago and he ended his email saying, “just remember to keep your eyes on Christ!”. That’s exactly what I needed to hear. It simply reinforced everything I’ve been meditating on. Above all, I’m longing for holiness. I want to be holy.
Last Saturday, I attended my first Mass in Florence, which happened to be in English. The message that called out to me in particular was from the 2nd Reading, Corinthians 7:32-35. In short, “an unmarried woman, like a young girl, can devote herself to the Lord’s affairs; all she need worry about is being holy in body and spirit… I say this only to help you, not to put a halter round your necks, but simply to make sure that everything is as it should be, and that you give your undivided attention to the LORD.“
There you go. There’s the answer (may or may not be His complete answer, I’m not too certain yet) that I’ve been persistently asking for. He provided once again. I now know. I now know the purpose of my being here.
The first step to holiness is to will it. Sanctity consists in nothing else but firm resolve, the heroic act of a soul abandoning herself to God. By an upright will, we love God, we choose God, we run toward God, we reach Him, we possess Him.
– Saint Thomas Aquinas
Holiness is my goal… one step at a time.