I was recently at a street dance with a few close friends! After the band had finished playing for the night, the DJ was playing music over the loudspeaker as the crowd began to disperse. Just as we were about to leave, there was a communal cheer as the song ‘God Bless the USA’ by Lee Greenwood began to play. I could not help but smile as the majority of the crowd shout-sang the lyrics, “And I’m proud to be an American…” I could physically feel the passion and the truth behind each word as the crowd sang and I felt so grateful to be born in this country. I know that if I had been born in any other region of the world my life would not have panned out the way it did. If I had been born into a different country with a different culture I probably wouldn't be writing this blog or teaching elementary music. My daily life would look radically different.
I am sure that when my ancestors decided to leave their homeland and settle in America they did not have me specifically in mind….but when my German relatives traveled to and settled in this land, they created an opportunity for their great great granddaughter to live freely as a Catholic woman! Some people may call it fate...I call it faith! It is true Divine Providence that my ancestors were Cristian.
Isaiah 41:31 states ‘The Lord is God of Old’. I get goosebumps when I think of my relatives from long ago practicing the same Catholic faith that my family practices today. I love hearing stories about how my great grandma made sure that on a Sunday morning, all the cows were milked (by hand) and all the farm chores were completed in time so that her children would be at the church just in time to pray the rosary 45 minutes prior to mass. Her devotion parallels the faith of my parents who motivated us to get the farm chores done so we could pray the rosary, as a family, before Sunday mass.
The only downfall of this generational faith is that I never had to take personal responsibility for my relationship with God growing up. Praying a family rosary or going to daily mass was common in our household. We went to a Catholic elementary school and stayed involved all throughout high school by attending retreats and conferences. Even throughout college, living out my faith was not something I had to navigate on my own. The Newman Center at NDSU provided opportunities that were limitless to live out the faith and to develop a personal relationship with Jesus.
It took all of those years of involvement to realize that Jesus was pursuing my heart on a personal level. It was no longer a family faith, but a specific faith that was designed for me! It was up to me to embrace it or continue sifting through the opportunities laid out before me. My favorite definition of the word faith states that faith is a gift given from God which enables us to know him. Jesus opened my heart and made me realize that this precious gift of faith, that was passed through my family from generation to generation, could not stop with me!
As an adult, I claimed the Catholic faith on a personal level and stand firm in my belief that living out the faith is a choice that needs to be made daily. Initially the Catholic faith was a gift, but now it is an intentional experience each day. A life of daily prayer and conscious time with the Lord has developed a swell in my heart to ensure that I too pass on the precious gift of our Faith to all generations yet to come!
Until next time~ Your sister in Christ,