I feel pulled to shed a more personal story about myself. So here you go:
In light of Lent which starts tomorrow, I was reading the Vatican news. I remembered after a bit of surfing, exactly where I was: on the Vatican’s website. It snapped me back to a time in my life where I was spiritually lost. At this time I had lost an insane amount of weight (I’m a thin girl to begin with) and was severely depressed. Nothing meant much to me and I felt NOTHING for ANYTHING. I had exited an obnoxiously wild time of my life (my first year of college, go figure) and now was sunk in the aftermath of my mistakes and regrets.
My religious beliefs had faded into a light mist at the back of my conscience: they were there, but they rather annoyed me and made me feel worse about myself. I’d grown up in the Catholic church, but when I entered high school, I also entered a rebellious mindset (like many teens) and felt “overprotected” and under the roof of “VERY STRICT” parents who “wouldn’t let me do ANYTHING” (at that time “ANYTHING” meant dating boys and driving in cars with them). So skewed became my vision that by the time I entered my first year in college, I acted out in every way I desired. To my dying day, I regret the pain I inflicted upon my parents, based out of my fabricated, selfish justifications.
So there I was, sitting in my little dormitory. I had elected to living on an All-Girls, Quiet Study floor, so that I wouldn’t come across the same types of girls who “befriended” me my first year. It was lonely, but I didn’t have room in my being for any other emotion. It was rainy. Pope John Paul II had just died.
I don’t know why, but I felt moved to know more about this Pope that seemed to be intensely mourned by the entire world. Why didn’t I know more about him? Why didn’t I know more about my faith, my faith that I’d grown up knowing and for which I attended classes of instruction? How can someone be around something for 19-20 years and still not really know or understand it??? How did I attend Mass, experience my first Reconciliation, first Holy Communion, my Confirmation into the Catholic Church, and still not really KNOW what it’s all about!?!? It all suddenly fell upon me as bricks of shame and frustration. What a waste I’d been to myself and to the people who’d come into contact with me over the years.
I came to DAAP to study art. I am an artist. Blahblahblah, we all know of the famous artists who created religious works… but I wondered, as I was browsing the Vatican’s site, reading about the now Blessed Karol Wojtyla’s life (that’s John Paul II’s birth name), if those holy people- those priests, bishops cardinals, nuns, religious workers could really relate to someone like me. It’s a selfish thought, in the grand scheme of things, but hey, that’s where I was in my life at that point. After a very short amount of reading about this Pope, I learned that he himself was an artist! Before he became pope, he was an actor, a poet… he appreciated the arts!? Interesting, to know who this person was before he became what the world knows him to be. But I corrected myself: To know who this person IS, throughout the entirety of his life! Always an artist, John Paul II has been! How exciting!
”A Letter of His Holiness Pope John Paul II to Artists” snapped the attention of my eyes. My heart skipped a beat, and as I read the first paragraph, tears of relief and of every emotion possible, sprung from me as I read the entirety of the deceased Pope’s letter; opening my locked heart, the rusted gate it had become, to the beautiful, poetry of his words.
This marked the beginning of my conversion returning to the Catholic faith. Since then, I have experienced powerful spiritual renewals and signs, and learned so much, so strong that nothing can ever rock me from it again. Because, in Christianity’s light, all things that may be suggested as a distraction have become dust to me.
“None can sense more deeply than you artists, ingenious creators of beauty that you are, something of the pathos with which God at the dawn of creation looked upon the work of his hands. A glimmer of that feeling has shone so often in your eyes when—like the artists of every age—captivated by the hidden power of sounds and words, colours and shapes, you have admired the work of your inspiration, sensing in it some echo of the mystery of creation with which God, the sole creator of all things, has wished in some way to associate you.”