Like so many before me who have written for this column, I am privileged to have been raised in a loving, practising Catholic family and since childhood I was blessed with a profound love of my faith.
My parents were instrumental in this grounding of faith: we prayed the Rosary together every evening, attended Mass every Sunday and as a family said the Divine Mercy chaplet in the car on the way to school.
I served at Mass, sang in the choir and all the while I felt a genuine pleasure in helping my friend, God. Although we attended novenas and visited Knock shrine when we were younger, it was in 2005, aged 15, that I first saw other young people’s faith, on a visit to Medjugorie with my grandparents.
This was my first real exposure to other young Catholics being witnesses to the Church.
The peace I felt there was indescribable and I carried it home with me, especially when I attended Adoration. After this kind of religious experience I longed for more.
Not long after that I visited Fatima with my family where I again observed young people who, in their worship, radiated vibrancy and energy and it was exhilarating to be a part of this. In 2009 I attended my first Youth Forum in Paray-le-Monial, the birthplace of devotion to the Sacred Heart. I returned again last summer. Paray is a very special place. I know that the Lord guided me there for a reason and many wonderful things have developed from my time there.
My continuing involvement in Catholic youth movements such as Pure In Heart and the Emmanuel Community has deepened my relationship with God the Father. My love for Mass and Adoration has continued to grow and in Adoration I feel the great love of Jesus fill my soul and am often overwhelmed by his presence.
I have come to realise the tremendous courage and wisdom that can be attained by truly listening to the Holy Spirit’s guidance and what he is telling me. Currently, I am studying science in Trinity College, Dublin. It was during my first year there that I began to have difficulties for the first time in my schooling career.
While I love my course, the scientific community is very atheistic and the exclusion of God makes the collegiate arena a little less meaningful to me. However, the Catholic chaplains have been a great support. It is sad that a prevailing culture of secularism exists in college where religion can be seen as a destructive force and is denigrated.
I cannot understand how so many of my contemporaries go through life without the support and love of Jesus. It saddens me that many of them are so lost and turn away from the only source of true happiness.
I hope that I will continue to be able to share my faith with other young people in the future, as it is not something that I can keep to myself! Walking a Christian path presents many challenges, but only this path brings the freedom, peace and joy which our superficial world of image, gain and self-indulgent pleasure cannot give.
Growing up, my mother always used to say to us: “Give freely to God because whatever you do for him, he will return a thousand-fold”. I know this is true. Nothing in this world is more fulfilling or rewarding than spending time with my friend Jesus – he takes care of me in a way that no other person could ever do.
So far in my life I have encountered no major faith challenges, and the moral guidance and truth which the Church teaches provide me with a stable framework for my life.
No words can adequately express the importance of God to me. My life would mean nothing without my faith, it is an intrinsic part of me. It shapes all my decisions and it cannot be separated from who I am.
I am so grateful to our Lord for the many blessings he has bestowed on me and no matter what the future holds, I know that God will always be there with me.
Aoife Beglin, 20, is studying science in Trinity College. (Source Alive)