April 12, 2013

Readers open their heart, share what they love about the faith

By John Shaughnessy

Year of Faith logo(One in a continuing series. See a previous article here.)

The invitation came from a young man when Claudia Pfeiffer was in college, a time when she was still trying to find her place in the world.

At the time, she didn’t know that her decision to accept his invitation would change her life so dramatically, including embracing a faith that she had never known.

Now, years later, his invitation and her acceptance are parts of the love story that Pfeiffer shares.

“I grew up in a home with no religion. By high school, I felt something was missing from my life,” says Pfeiffer, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis.

“In college, I met a young man who told me he went to a different church each weekend and wondered which church I’d like to attend with him. I said I had always been afraid but fascinated by the Catholic Church, so that is where we went. I was enthralled so I began instructions. My questions were being answered. It was obvious I was a convert as I stood and knelt at all the wrong times and said the prayers wrong. Yet I was received with great friendship and caring.

“It wasn’t until later that I learned the young man who had taken me to that church had been born a Catholic and went to that church every Sunday.

“We later were married and had a family. We ended up sharing almost 50 years together before he died and went peacefully to our Lord.

“I am a 71-year-old widow now and love my Church more than ever. It sustains me in my sorrow, elates me in my joy and lives with me every day. I feel faith is the greatest gift God has given me.”

Pfeiffer shared her story in response to The Criterion’s invitation to Catholics across the archdiocese to answer the question, “What do you love about being Catholic?” The question stems from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s announcement that a special Year of Faith began on Oct. 11, 2012.

Other Catholics in the archdiocese have shared their own stories and thoughts concerning that question. Here are some of their responses.

The presence of Christ

“I’m inspired most by the sacraments,” says Christina Smith, a member of St. Ambrose Parish in Seymour. “The two that are most important to me are reconciliation and the Eucharist. Those two really draw me close to my Catholic faith. The sense of knowing the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist makes me one with my faith.”

A relationship with God

“Some religions foster a fear of a vengeful deity, preaching fire and brimstone,” says Carmen Henson, a member of St. Lawrence Parish in Indianapolis. “In my Catholic faith, there is forgiveness and God welcoming me back whenever I ask pardon when my human frailties overcome my good sense.

“My religion encourages a personal relationship with God, giving him not only adoration and worship, but sharing my life’s tribulations and successes. People and even friends can leave, but he is always there for me in the Eucharist. While visiting at eucharistic adoration, I can tell him my needs and wants, and thank him for his blessings—just like talking to a very good friend.

“And he does listen. Coming out of adoration, a feeling of peace pervades.”

The bond of the universal Church

“I love sharing my faith in Jesus with others,” says Steve Hesse, a member of Prince of Peace Parish in Madison. “I love the fact that I can go anywhere in the country and in the world when I’m on vacation, and it’s the same Mass, and we’re all part of the same Catholic family.”

Devotion to the Blessed Mother

“I love to pray the rosary,” says Dodie Fleming, a member of St. Michael Parish in Greenfield. “It’s one of the best ways you can pray. I have a devotion to the Blessed Mother.”

The sharing of the faith

“The most important part is receiving Jesus at Mass,” says Becky Floyd, a member of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Bedford. “Being a teacher and then a principal, I also get to share my faith with the children and teach them about what it means to be Catholic. I especially enjoy celebrating Mass together.”

A feeling in the heart

“What drives me as a Catholic is the way I feel in my heart,” says Brenda Martin, a member of St. Paul Parish in Tell City. “First and foremost is how I am in awe of the Eucharist. I love that we have a connection with Jesus through the Eucharist. I also love the fact that we have saints who are intercessors for us.”

A sense of belonging

“I love the total community of faith that I live in,” says Diane Hauswald, a member of Most Precious Blood Parish in New Middletown. “I also love the calming effect I receive when sitting in church, praying to God.”

(If you would like to share your thoughts and stories concerning “what you love about being Catholic” submit them to assistant editor John Shaughnessy by e-mail at jshaughnessy@archindy.org or by mail in care of The Criterion, 1400 N. Meridian St. Indianapolis, IN 46202. Please include your parish and a daytime phone number where you can be reached.)

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