I am Catholic. Officially, now. It’s almost been over two months. It happened at the cathedral in the downtown area. I was baptised, confirmed and had my first Holy Communion by no other than the Cardenal of Honduras, Oscar Rodriguez, who was one of the candidates to be Pope when Pope Francis was ordained, and he still has a high position in the church and remains a kind of right hand man to the Pope himself.
It was a special moment. Life changing. I didn’t think I would ever switch. For so long I was agnostic or atheist or securalist, whatever it is called. I lived a somewhat liberal life and spoke of lots of blasphemy. I also had trouble accepting some of the ideas, and like so many I have felt appalled by some of the scandals pouring out of the church, mainly around child abuse. I also felt the views on homosexuality being far too strong as well (I still find it very hard to believe it is a mortal sin). I would blame God for troubles, have a hateful relationship with him, and I felt it was all about helping others succeed, and not myself. An angry and selfish thing to believe, you must be thinking.
I remember one morning. It was in February 2014. I had not slept well. I had had woken up for a period of days angry and a loss of faith in myself and in life. Career wise I was feeling out of luck and worrying about the future. I told Pamela that I was feeling that way and needed some kind of spirituality or faith healing, time to reprieve. I have had reiki and tried other alternative therapies but I couldn’t satisfy something within. Maybe she could put me in contact with a nun from Maria Auxiliadora, the Catholic school she went to. Unfortunately the person she tried to put me in contact with had left. I left it for a few days then I was in the centre of Tegus on the way to meet Pamela after work. She sent me a message saying that she was going to be late, so I wondered what to do for a while. I’d had my intake of coffee that day and I was feeling restless. There are few quiet places in Tegucigalpa city centre, so I went into the Cathedral and sat down. I used to do it regularly, looking at the relics and people praying intensely to them. I would think it so strange and sadly desperate for these people, not in a patronising way mind. I remember my father mentioning that many poorer people have this strong belief because that is all they have, and that God can be a great symbol because of this. The general idea is common and well-known, but I was surprised it came from my father because he had been quite critical of organised religion for many years. It stuck with me his words, in a positive way. I sat there and prayed. Not really knowing what to say, but pleading him to take some of the anger away, help me understand the confusion in my head, and after I walked away feeling very relaxed and calm. A skeptic would might say it was ambience of the church, but I felt that I’d been listened to. I then went to the little shop at the back of the church and bought a scapular, not really understanding what it meant (it’s sacramental, a devotion to Mary to ask for protection, I have been told). It is thread that has attached to it small rectangular cloth portraits of Mary which can be worn around the neck or wrist. When met Pam outside her work I received a funny look when she first saw me putting it on, knowing full well I had no idea what it meant, but I could tell she was pleased.
A couple days after, a former colleague called Lyana noticed that I was wearing it and gave me a similar look that Pamela gave me. She then asked if I was Catholic and I said “not really, but I’ll give it a try” (something along those lines). I told her my predicament, that I didn’t know where to start and I was waiting on a nun whom we did not know the whereabouts of, but she told me she might know someone who could help. A few days later, I met someone from Espavel, a Catholic education centre run by Opus Dei which is on the same street where I work, and I met a priest who I do not remember the name of. We talked for an hour or so and he was pleasant and offered to put me in contact with a man who is now a close friend, Juan Pablo, who could give me basic classes.
This is the start of how I entered Catholicism. There is more to come. I would like to thank Lyana, and of course Pamela, for the first steps of this journey. I’ll never forget it.