As National Migration Week comes to an end, a final reflection.
As a young Cuban refugee growing up in the neighboring island of Puerto Rico, I was keenly aware of all that made me different. In spite of speaking the same language, my schoolmates teased me for my differences in speech.
Like refugee families from other cultures, ours was a multi-generational home shared with three grandparents. Our family spent a considerable amount of our time and energy taking classes and attending events meant to remind us of our native culture, lest we ever forget what made us Cuban—and why we were refugees.
It was an unsettling time for all the adults in my life. This meant that I attended five different grade schools and lived in five different homes—one not corresponding with the other.
I was a perceptive child, more aware than most of the inner struggles of those suffering around me. In a very real way, I felt my parents’ anguish over the family and friends left in Cuba. I ingested my grandmother’s nighttime tears and loneliness. I experienced my grandparents’ uprootedness and displacement.
In the midst of all this inner suffering and external displacement—and perhaps directly because of it—my sense of place, belonging, and peace became deeply rooted in the Catholic faith.
Unlike most people’s experience, however, this sense of being claimed and chosen was not attached to one parish—but in a very real way, to the Church universal. Walking into a church. Celebrating the liturgy in unison. Receiving the Eucharist with mis hermanos, my brothers and sisters in the faith. This was, and is, home to me.
In truth, there’s no substitute for the basics. Honest, daily prayer. Reclaiming the graces of the Sacraments. Approaching faith and tradition with a willing heart. Reclaiming the liturgy, and especially the Eucharist, as our home—the source from which “all its power flows.”
Only if we put the events of our lives—past, present, future—in contact with the Word of God and the Sacraments will those events become signs of God’s presence in and for our lives.
Only if we recommit to daily private and public prayer can we “rediscover the content of the faith that is professed, celebrated, lived and prayed.”
Do we dare live our lives with such certainty?
[ This reflection, “Faith Celebrated,” was first published
in the August 2013 issue