By Marilyn McNeill
As Catholic Christians, we are called by our baptism to be the reflection of Christ in the world. Living and sharing our faith can be a tremendous challenge, especially in today’s society.
We are vested through our baptismal promises, and Christ becomes a part of us in the holy Eucharist. Through the grace we receive in the sacraments, we receive strength to meet the challenges of each day. We demonstrate our faith to others by our actions and words.
In my own faith journey, I have met some really huge challenges. However, it is my faith that gives me the strength to get through the struggles. Many times there have been “only one set of footprints,” where my faith has carried me through.
In one of the most profound experiences, my car hydroplaned, causing a head-on collision with a big dump truck. At 42, I had to learn to walk again. I realized there are so many things we take for granted. My left leg had been crushed in the door, and my right foot was broken by the front axle and the floor board.
As a nurse, I have worked in orthopedics and the emergency room. I knew just how fortunate I was to survive, and the road to recovery was not going to be easy. I prayed on the way to the hospital and felt the peace of Christ. Whatever happened, God would be with me.
He “carried me” for the three months I was confined to a wheelchair, and the following months of physical therapy. The first time I was actually able to kneel to pray, I wept.
Not everyone will have that dramatic of an experience. However, if we open our hearts and minds and allow God’s presence, by our faith, our church family, by our healing, he will give us the strength and the peace to deal with life’s challenges.
I seek ways, now, that I can give back. Every day has greater meaning, and I strive to be a blessing to someone.
One of my ministries that mean the most to me is serving as a eucharistic minister at Nazareth Home. Mass is offered daily for the residents at 11 a.m. Every Catholic in the facility is allowed to partake in the holy Eucharist.
I usually go on Thursdays and visit rooms of residents who watch Mass on TV. Many of our retired priests and sisters are there. To see the expressions on their faces, receiving the Eucharist, is such a blessing to me. They gave so much of their lives in service.
Volunteering at Nazareth Home is a very special experience. I would invite anyone of our faith to serve as a volunteer there.
Blessed Mother Teresa said we should “be the living expression of God’s kindness — kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.” We witness more by our actions than our words.
My life has not been perfect. However, as I get older, I find more meaning in my faith journey. I see how God has used some of those dark times in my life to help me appreciate his presence more fully.
Marilyn McNeill is a parishioner of St. Lawrence Church.
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