Gregory Dodd Catechumen. preparing for life in the church.
What is God?
It is a question that has itched the back of my mind ever since I was young. What is God? Within the Word of the Lord, we are given the answer to this question quite a few times. One of my favorite responses to this question was prompted by our Lord. The Lord states simply, "I Am." God is more than we can ever fathom. More than the stars and the sky. God just is!
Growing up, I always questioned the nature of our world. There has to be more, right? To this day, science has not been able to explain one of the most potent elements of our existence: consciousness. Knowing this, I also had a pull towards God, as we all do in one way or another. So, early in my life, I tried to understand God. As daunting as a task this was, I obviously failed. My search at this young age was uninformed and misguided. I gave up pretty quickly and turned away from the faith.
I didn't have a bad childhood. My parents were very caring and always pushed me to do my best. But again, I was missing something. I received good grades, praise from my family, and attention from girls, yet here I was, unhappy and unfulfilled. Something was missing.
Throughout the next portion of my life, I distracted myself with literature and friends. I spent a lot of time playing online video games and a lot of the time sacrificing sleep to do so. My grades didn't slip, but my mental health did. I had to distract myself from the existential thoughts I would have daily. I just consumed every form of media I could: games, movies, music, and the majority of my time was being spent reading books. I just found solace in living the lives of the characters in literature rather than living my own life. Friends came and went, but the novels remained.
When new friends came along, my judgment started to falter. I was making decisions in which I was harming my body, my mind, and the people around me. I was getting noticeably irritable regularly. My personality shifted, and I became the lowest version of myself. I became hateful and arrogant. I was full of pride and felt invincible. I thought I was smarter than everyone else, and God was something that I thought only fools believed in.
And yet, there was still this longing inside of me.
Then here it was, the culmination of all of my bad decisions. The conclusion of all the hate I spewed for years and the heartache I brought onto the people who loved and supported me. This vast, disgusting mountain of all of my trespasses and sin led me to this: a meeting with God.
Being in the presence of the Father is like trying to describe him. It is, as I stated previously, something we cannot fathom. It was the most terrifying and beautiful thing I have ever been subjected to, being in the presence of our God. The Father was the epitome of love and the embodiment of everything of goodness, truth, and beauty. He just is.
After the encounter, I was whole. I felt, unlike any way I have ever felt before. God had to literally knock me on my back to get me to see his work in my life. I have had the most loving and supporting girlfriend I could have ever asked for, and I was treating her horribly. I was destroying myself and my relationships for the simple reason of attempting and failing to fill the God-sized hole in my heart.
God led me from the recesses of darkness into his divine light...
Following the meeting, I was always thinking about him, his incredible time spent here on Earth, and his time spent with the Father. It was a no-brainer for me to move onto reading into the Catholic faith. Not only is it the Church that Jesus put into motion himself, but much of the grace in my life came in the form of the people who surrounded me. The people who were my biggest supporters. These people were all Catholic! It had to be a sign.
I spent any available time reading into the thousands of years of tradition. This history, both scripture, and tradition that the Catholic Church simply blew me away. Intellectually, ancient and present theologians alike have all had their fair share of molding my faith into a more solid foundation. This includes people like Thomas Aquinas, J.R.R. Tolkien, and if you know me in person at all, Bishop Robert Barron.
I then started reflecting on Jesus himself, including but not limited to, his ministry, his resurrection, his miracles, his passion, and of course, his words. I started learning more about the sacraments and the saints, and I just could not get enough of it!
At this point in my faith journey, I was pretty secure in my decision: I want to be Catholic. I keep listening to God, I keep praying, and he kept giving me signs and graces. But the darkness still had a minor grasp on me. There was a small portion of anxiety inside of me. Then the most amazing thing happens to me. My girlfriend invites me to Mass. Of course, I wanted to go! It was the next step in my faith journey. It definitely was what God wanted me to do. I could feel him prompting me to participate in the Catholic Church's most beautiful prayer, the Mass.
We had reached the parking lot of Saint Joseph University Parish. I was shaking. My heart was racing. My hands were drenched in sweat. I was paralyzed with fear. I found it hard to walk. I had a hard time getting to the front door. We walk in, I dip my fingers in holy water, I make the sign of the Trinity, and instantly, all of my fear and anxiety were gone. All of a sudden, I was on top of the world. I couldn't get over how beautiful the church was. The congregation begins to sing, and that's when I knew I was where I needed to be. I was home.
We move back to that question, "what is God"? God is the light. God is life. God is everything. God just is.