Thursday, December 28, 2023

Born Again Catholic - Returning to the Religion of My Youth After a 40-Year Absence

Confirmation Name

When I look back at my life, it's clear to me that I was not a seriously religious person. At one time early on, I questioned the very existence of God. I was born Catholic but did not practice Catholicism. My family believed in God, anchored into the faith by my grandmothers, but we did not go to Mass every Sunday. We were church-going Catholics at least twice a year, during Easter and Christmas, and whenever one of our relatives passed away. 
I was baptized in the Catholic Church at the "old age" of nine mainly because my aunt asked my mom why I was not baptized. My aunt became my Godmother and I then started learning about Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church. When I was 13 years old, I attended Sunday school for a few months and eventually received my First Holy Communion. When it came time for the next logical step, my confirmation, I decided not to proceed with the sacrament because I thought with all the evil in the world, there could not be a God. 

I was agnostic throughout my late teens and twenties. I could not commit to being an atheist, but I was not entirely sold on believing in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost either.  I was spiritually lost for most of my thirties, struggling to find myself while escaping with drugs and alcohol. In my forties, I connected with a yearning for a higher power. I began my search for enlightenment by taking several spiritual paths, exploring Buddhism, Wicca, the Kabbalah, and mindful meditation.

Simultaneously, I continued to depend on legal and illegal substances to fill an emptiness in my soul. Eventually, thanks to a force greater than myself, I became sober in my fifties. Once I got the proverbial monkey off my back with the help of a therapist and a recovery program, I gained clarity and the courage to face and deal with my inner demons. I finally began to truly know myself.  

During this difficult transformative time, I sensed I was not alone. I felt a pull toward more meaning and purpose, examining the bigger questions of life like "Who am I?" and "Why am I here?" I started to review the reason why religion was not a huge part of my world, or more so, why I did not naturally gravitate to it. 

Concurrently the study of genealogy has become a hobby of mine in recent years, highlighting the fact that Christianity was of great importance to my ancestors. My career trajectory also led me to a nonprofit organization linked to the Catholic Church. The signs were coming together for me at that time in my life to reassess my relationship with God and religion.  

I thought if I was going to devote myself to theology again in earnest, I would go back to the beginning by revisiting the religion I was born into and the one where I had already received two sacraments. After some introspection, I decided to finish what I had started and enrolled in a Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) program at my local Catholic church. 

After seven months of catechism classes, I was blessed with the Sacrament of Confirmation and added Vicente to my name. I am now a practicing Catholic and I sometimes still cannot believe it. I consider myself a born-again Catholic, experiencing a homecoming of sorts. About five years ago, if you had told me this was going to be the case, I would have called you crazy. 

Everything is meant to be what it is. This challenging journey was always going to be mine. I am full of faith these days and I am grateful for all of my blessings in life. I now live every day looking at ways to be of service. I know firsthand that a spiritual and religious conversion can happen to anyone open to the possibility.  

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Obituary - Lydia Gomez y Ruiz de Lopez - 1949 to 2022

On Saturday, September 17, 2022, the family and friends of Lydia Gomez y Ruiz de Lopez held a Celebration of Life Service at Hess-Miller Funeral Home in Middle Village, Queens to pay tribute to a life well lived with love and laughter. Lydia Gomez Lopez passed away from cardiac complications on Thursday morning, September 8, 2022, at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center. She was 73 years old. 

Lydia Gomez Ruiz was born on February 24, 1949, in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico to Carmen Maria Ruiz y Santiago and Jose Soler Gomez. Lydia was the second of 17 children born to Carmen Ruiz. Lydia's family moved from Puerto Rico to New York in the early 1950s. She lived in Brooklyn where she attended Clara Barton High School. Later in life, Lydia lived in the Bronx, and Ridgewood, Queens before moving to Puerto Rico. She returned to New York to live in Spanish Harlem for a time before moving back to Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico. 

Lydia worked for and retired from the New York City Board of Education where she held the position of a paraprofessional. She is survived by her husband Hector Lopez, four children from two previous relationships, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Her family and friends will miss Lydia immensely. May she rest in eternal peace. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Family is Forever

No matter if you like it or not, family is forever. I have been blessed with a gigantic family but unfortunately I know some much better than others. Throughout my life there have been precious moments shared with family members that I will remember forever and I look forward to future events. Unfortunately, because of its size, I may really never know each member as well as I would like. However thanks to Facebook, I do get a glimpse into their lives and can keep up with the highlights and let them know I'm there in spirit during the low points of life.

I know how fortunate I am in regards to my connectivity with family. I have met people in my life that have either been disowned by their family or have made the difficult decision to cut themselves off. I always find that decision, either way, sad. The fact of the matter is that some people are close to their families, and others are not. Those who do not have close family ties create deep friendships that are like family and that's wonderful. For me in the end, there is no true substitute for family.

I rarely have long lasting fights or arguments with family because life is way too short for stuff like that. Recently I witnessed, via Facebook, some family drama that led some to "unfriend" each other. Things like this just break my heart. As I get older I notice my family, overall, pulling further and further away from each other. I can definitely make more of an effort to reach out however as the years go by, less and less of us get together to share those special moments.

I get a little morbid with my siblings when we fight. I say to them we will bury each other so we really need to get over what ever the issue. To me family is forever and you just can't "unfamily" someone. Family has to stick together, especially during difficult times. So whatever the problem is or was, find the space in your heart to forgive. I am not a religious person but I know God would want me to forgive, and mainly for myself.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Being Thankful

Sometimes I complain about what I don't have, or what I might have missed out in life. But I should really be thankful for just being here today. I'm truly thankful for a blessed life. It really has been a good one, and continues to be. When I have a bad day, I think about those in my life that are no longer here. Sometimes I feel a little guilty and wonder, why them and not me? But there is a greater plan in place and I have to believe that. Recently, a community leader passed away unexpectedly. He was 35 years old. I did not know him very well, though I had met him twice. He was full of life and really made an impact. Even though we were not close, his passing was a shock to me. I found myself Googling him and his work. All things considered, he was a relatively healthy and strong young man. Then one day he is gone from this world. Just another example that we all need to take life by the horns and ride it until we die. So this Thanksgiving eve, I am thankful for being here, for having a wonderful life thus far, for my family, friends, and fraternity. I have been very fortunate. Peace and love to all, and to all I wish a good Thanksgiving night.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Spiritual Goals for 2012

This past year has been a tough one, but it is ending on a brighter note. I realized that I have not been much in touch with my spiritual side. I pretty much put it on hold. I've noticed the lack of spirit in my life overall. It wasn't a good place to be in and I hope I never again leave my spirit behind.

This coming 2012 I plan to be connected more frequently, if not everyday, to my spiritual side. I know it's always there, but sometimes I let other things get in the way of the awareness. In 2012 I will finally master meditation. It's something that I never really got the hang of but I need to really get it down. I'll try slowly and hope by the end of the year to be a full zen master (not really, but it's something to aspire to.) I also hope to seriously begin doing yoga. I've tried it several times but never stuck with it.

Life is too short for hangups and I am over hanging on to a few things that I thought I dealt with long ago. But 2011 has shown me that some things just keep coming back. It's time for a spiritual spring cleaning and I look forward to the many changes that lie ahead.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Hang In There

The economy has a lot of people full with fear and frustration. The country's financial uncertainty has many, including myself, wondering what the future holds. Sometimes this crazy climate pulls me down and makes me feel like giving up hope. But I hang in there.

Some friends are going through the same thing, and I know of an entire online community that shares their hopes and dreams and lean on each other for support during these turbulent times. We can all relate to our individual struggles and I know touching base and sharing our experiences help us hang in there.

The stock market has been flying up and down like a raging rollercoaster out of control. Sometimes my emotions feel the same way, but I find ways try to keep them in check. I hang in there.

Sometimes I do feel like giving up and throwing in the towel. Sometimes I do feel like becoming reclusive, hiding out like a hermit, but I continue to show up for life. I keep on trying, keep on holding on to hope, keep on wishing for the best, and keep on making moves.

I have to keep on hanging in there because the alternative is just not an option.

So no matter how tough it all gets, hang in there.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Life Goes On

I have not posted to this blog in over a year. I have been concentrating on my "real work" but it's time to get back to posting some spiritual thoughts. Life is just crazy right now and I am at a lost for some answers. But no matter how much I worry, or feel uncertain, or fear the unknown, life goes on. It doesn't stop for anyone or anything. There is no pause button. I have to adapt to the changes, the ups and downs, like everyone else. Maybe this is the new normal all around. The economy is in the tank, job prospects are limited, friends continue to come and go, and family passes on. It's all part of life, and it goes on. Times like this is when religious people pray and ask God, the universe, the powers that be, for answers. I do the same, but I also write. The process makes me feel better and think clearer. No matter what happens in my life, the good and the bad, I need to keep it all together and keep trekking on.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Asking for What You Want

The universe wants to give you good things. That's what we must all believe. I truly think we bring good and bad things into our lives. The goal is to try to focus on only asking for what we want as oppose to what we don't want. So the question becomes what do you want? Once you take the time to really decide what it is that you really want, then one must ask for it. Ask, as it is said, and you shall receive. God, the universe, the powers that be, will work to give you what you want. It is OK to ask for what you want. You deserve it. After many years of getting what I wanted, and changing from time to time, what that want was, I now need to look at the bigger picture at this time in my life and make another choice. What is it that I really want at this present time in my life? The picture is getting clearer and more importantly, I am finally starting to really believe that I will always get what I ask for. So, what do you really want? Got it? Now ask the universe for it, and see it come to you.