By Katherine Jass Lopez
When I was asked to reflect on why I am a Catholic woman, I have to admit – it actually took me by surprise. I guess I hadn’t given much thought to it – it’s just who I am. So I’ve been thinking about it and looking back on how my faith journey has brought me to where I am today. The one constant is that God awas always with me – even though there were times I didn’t have a clue or even acknowledge him – his love was always there.
Although I was born and raised Catholic, I am sad to admit that I didn’t always embrace or live my faith – truth is I just didn’t know much about it. Sure, I went to CCD as a child and made my sacraments, however, Church was not really a priority in my home. When I was 18, God chose to bless me with the greatest gift I could ever receive: my son James. Becoming pregnant at a young age was certainly not in my plan, but God’s infinite wisdom always prevails. I truly believe God sent my son to save me, as he did his own Son. I love being a mom and have been blessed to raise my son on my own, and be a witness to his own faith journey; often I think he has a stronger faith than I do, and I am in awe of his ability to forgive.
His father was not a big part of my son’s life due to very bad choices he made. He is actually in prison. It’s amazing that I can even write that. He went to prison when James was only 15. I was very angry at my ex-husband and for the impact his actions would not have on my son. I thought I would never forgive him. But my son, through God’s grace, told me he forgave his father. Hearing those words from my son melted my heart and replaced the anger and, yes, hate, I had been carrying. That’s what God does! He uses all of us as instruments to reveal the beauty and blessings of his love for us and others. And even when we think we are alone, he is there with us. I think back to the many years with just James and me; yet through our struggles, God was right there loving and protecting us. For the past 24 years, my greatest joy has been watching my son grow into a strong Catholic man.
Because of my son, I became more involved in church and active in many ministries, and these experiences helped me grow in my Catholic faith. I was able to eventually come to forgive others who had caused great hurt and pain. But even more importantly, I came to realize that I needed to forgive myself. I didn’t always make the best choices, and there are many decisions I’ve made that I wish I could change. But through the wonderful people God placed in my path, I began to accept that I was worthy of God’s love because he loves me unconditionally – I am the apple of my Father’s eye!
The loss of my mother last year was very difficult; however, when I think about all of my friends who were there for me, I have no doubt they were all there through God’s grace and love for me. Again, God’s love and timing abounds; just when I thought my new vocation would be that of a single woman, he brought the most wonderful man into my life – and right at the time I needed him most – just before I lost my mother. This man loves God and loves me and my son.
Each day always brings us blessings and crosses. We must be strong in our faith and know that God’s love always prevails, even in times of hurt, despair and anger. If we choose to let God into our hearts, he will reveal his love and mercy for us. I am a strong, blessed and courageous Catholic woman because I know that my Father God created me in his image, loves me and walks with me always.
Katherine Jass Lopez is a member of the San Antonio Catholic Women’s Conference Steering Committee.
Originally published in May 2014. “Living the Gift of Womanhood” is a column by the Catholic Women’s Conference that appears monthly in Today’s Catholic newspaper (Archdiocese of San Antonio). Learn more about the Conference at CWCSanAntonio.com.