Bianca Reátegui

Coming home to Catholicism

By  Bianca Reátegui, Youth Speak News
  • October 31, 2014

I wasn’t in the habit of regularly going to church until five years ago. I was bored by the Mass as a child and found very little reason to attend if I could help it. As a pre-teen, I openly resisted Christianity. I rarely went to church in those years of adolescent angst. Even when my parents dragged me to church, I felt uhappy to be there. 

As a severely doubting Catholic, I felt totally out of place in the congregation. I wouldn’t listen to the priest, and I received Communion barely aware of what I was receiving. Sure, I knew from attending a Catholic elementary school that the Eucharist was the Body of Christ, but that didn’t mean much to me. God seemed far away. I was too angry and too alone to realize that God was right there in front of me on the altar. I didn’t realize He was offering Himself up for me in the Holy Eucharist. Through our Lord’s sacrifice, God wanted to transform me, to compensate for all of my weaknesses, to make me the person He wanted me to be. 

My attitude towards God changed — not overnight, but slowly — and it was due largely to my grandmother. She was a devout Catholic, active in her faith. She encouraged my family to attend Mass more often, and she offered to read the Gospel to me. I had first agreed out of politeness, but as I read Scripture, I came to know God better. I slowly came to know Him as a God of love. 

Love is at the heart of every part of Catholicism, including the Mass. The Catholic Mass is inspired by humankind’s love for God and God’s love for humankind. As we hear the liturgy of the Word, we come to understand who God is and how we are to live in Communion with Him. In the liturgy of the Eucharist, God invites us to receive Christ Himself, to allow ourselves to be transformed by His love. As I came to understand what a great gift it is to receive Communion, the “amen” I said before receiving the Eucharist became infinitely more meaningful. 

As a follower of Christ, I must sufficiently prepare myself to receive the Eucharist, taking the time to reflect on my conscience so that I do not receive Communion in a state of mortal sin. I must take the time to go to Confession when I perceive that I have committed grave sin, so that I may not miss receiving the Holy Eucharist — for in this great gift, God confers to us a renewal of grace, a strengthened union with Him, the forgiveness of venial sins, and the preservation from future sin. 

For Jesus says, “As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me” (John 6:57). 

(Reátegui, 16, is a Grade 12 student at Holy Name of Mary Catholic Secondary School in Brampton, Ont.) 

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