When I lived in Mexico, I always went to church. This was something taught to me by my parents, and this was something that was expected of good Catholics. When I got married and had children, we continued this tradition. Even when I would leave my family to find work in other states in Mexico, I would always look for the closest church to attend Mass. It was a part of me that I never have lost.
About 12 years ago, I came to the United States. And it was here that I really learned about God.
In Mexico, I went to Mass. But here, it is different. Now, I pray. That may sound strange, but it is true.
In Mexico, I had my wife, my family, my siblings, my mother, cousins and friends. Mexico was home. Everything was in my language. Help was a phone call away or closer. I lived on the land of my father and grandfather. I was safe and secure.
God was there with me in Mexico, but I leaned on, relied on, trusted in and turned to members of my family. But here in the U.S., I don’t have my wife or my children with me. My parents are long dead. Here I don’t have health insurance, and sometimes I cannot find work.
Here I live with daily uncertainty and vulnerability. Here I have come to know God in a different way. Here, when I am sick, I don’t have money to see a doctor or health insurance to prevent illness. Here I pray for help: “Help me to get through this illness. Help me to find a job this day.”
And when I don’t find work, I still thank God that I was strong enough to look for it anyway.
Here I have to trust God to be everything. I used to pray the Our Father all the time. But here I finally know what it means when we pray “give us this day our daily bread.”
Today is what I am concerned about. And today is what God provides for me.
Everything here is God’s providence. I used to think that it was my strength and my effort that got me places. But now I know that it is God who makes things happen for me.
Here to go to church is like breathing in fresh air. I have to have air to breathe, and I have to be in church to live. The Mass gives me life. It gives me hope. It gives me courage.
Here I listen to the Gospel and the homily to give me instruction on how to live and what I should be learning and doing.
Most of the people I know who go to church here never went to church in their home countries. But here they do, because they are like me.
They live in uncertainty. And we need something to make us feel safe and secure. And that is what we find in the Mass.
The Mass brings us all together: We are together because we live the same kind of life. God has to be real now. Here we have discovered that God exists.
I am grateful that we have the Mass in Spanish. I am grateful that we had a priest who speaks Spanish. We are a community here in a way that we didn’t need to be in our home country because we had what we needed on our own. But here you are not complete without others.
I am not rich at all, but in God I have more wealth than I could ever dream of or hope for. I thank God for what I have and for what I don’t have. The Mass and church remind me to stay close to God always.
Manual Jesús Garcia is a parishioner of the Church of the Annunciation in Shelbyville, Ky.
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