A note on my faith.

First: I have no intention of sounding righteous. This is not an issue of what I believe in versus what others believe. I am blogging about this because I am a "writer" ( not an actual writer, but someone who studied and loves writing) first and an "economist" second (not an actual economist, but someone who is studying economics and is learning to love it) and I am able to organize my thoughts and feelings most accurately when I write. For days, I have been trying to regroup and gather myself. And I feel that I must begin with this affirmation of what and Who I believe in.

Back in the Philippines, it was very easy for me, not just to be Catholic, but to be spiritual, to talk about God and his kindness because, hello, it's a Catholic country. It was even easier when I worked for Jesuit Volunteers Philippines (JVP) because the context actually called for someone to affirm God's presence and love.

I remember being able to go to mass everyday and visiting the chapel every now and then during my breaks. I remember my random conversations about God and how amazing He could be. I remember the seminars I helped organize with JVP and how the aspect of spirituality is just as important, if not more, as service, social justice, simplicity and solidarity in the sessions we had. I remember how, during my visits to volunteers in the communities they serve, it was often enough to comfort a volunteer by assuring him of God's unending love and wisdom . It was all too easy and convenient.

with my mom.
But now, here in New York, things have been very different. It's not that I don't have any freedom to talk about these things here, it's America after all, the land of the free. The enemy has mostly been myself. Sure, not all of my classmates are Catholic, many of them are in fact, agnostic or aetheists. And that's perfectly okay and has never been or will be an issue. And in general they have mostly been very kind. If there's anything that I am grateful for in my several months of stay here, it's my classmates in IPED. They are just awesome. And I know that some of them have even tried to talk to me about faith and spirituality. The problem, I think, is with me.

My grandama's empty chair.

Every time someone would ask me about my spirituality or religion, I would simply just brush it away and quickly move on to another subject. When people discuss why they don't believe in God, I hesitate to talk about my own reasons for believing in One, even if they ask me, until I finally decide to just keep silent in a corner. Maybe I'm afraid of being judged. May I'm afraid of how others will see me. Maybe my faith isn't so deep that I can comfortably talk about it. Maybe I'm also trying to be sensitive in that I don't want to cross the line between talking about my faith and shoving it down people's throats. Whatever the reasons, I'm not okay with where I am now in terms of my spiritual life. The problem of faith is also a problem of the self.

There are consequences, of course, and I feel that my relationship with Him is slowly deteriorating. And maybe this is why I'm writing this. I haven't written anyone a letter since I got here.  So let this be my first letter to anyone since I got here. Let this be my love letter to Him.

Should anyone ask me what I most firmly believe in, this is what I'll say :

I believe in God. Not just any god, but a God who is all kindness and love. A God, who throughout my life has been there, constantly affirming me of His presence. I believe in a God whose light shines brighter as day turns into dusk and dusk into night. I believe in a God who brought me to where I am now. I look behind me and see the days full of despair and uncertainty and realize that all this time, I was never alone.

I know that God is present to me in the people around me, in my mom and my family in the Philippines and New Jersey, in the new friends I've met here in the states, in my old friends who remember me from time to time back home.

I see Him in every homework and paper that I finish, in every opportunity I get to expand my horizon and see the world, in every gathering of friends, in each day I spend at work and in the classroom.

He exists to me, most especially, when it is most difficult to live and love and when the light of hope is most dim.

To me He is everything. To me He is my beginning and my end. I know that there is nothing else I want to do in my life than serve Him. I go through each graph, each political science book, through each mathematical equation, even if they're not as fun as poems or fiction or painting or movies, knowing that they can only make me better in the service I wish to do in the future. I want to be able to work with the poorest of the poor because I know that that is where I am most called to love, in the same way that some are being called to work for banks or state institutions.

This, I think is my first picture in NYC.

I know that not everyone will understand my faith, and that is okay too. If they decide that they can't have me for a friend because of what I believe in, then that is their choice. If they decide to laugh at this, then that is their choice. As for me, the choice I struggle to make is to serve and love. And that is a choice that I have not always been good at.

Fr. Arrupe S.J. once said :Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination,will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love; stay in love,and it will decide everything.


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