I started going to Saturday school and Sunday masses when I was around five or six years old. I really didn=t pay much attention or understand why I was there, but my mom made sure I woke up at eight in the morning to go to church every single weekend until I turned seventeen. Sure, I learned all the prayers I had to so I can do my communion and confirmation but I never really stopped and thought of the actual words and their meaning. I would go to confession and accompany my mom when people would have gatherings to pray after a death or around Christmas time. Back then I really didn=t see a point in going to church. To this day I haven=t read the bible. Its not because I don=t believe in god, it just wasn=t a big interest to me.
I was baptized when I was a baby at a church in Los Angeles called St. Ignatius. I also had my first holy communion there. But I made my confirmation when I was sixteen in a church called Divine Savior about five miles from the previous church. I was brought up Catholic by my parents. I went to Saturday school when I was a child and Sunday mass almost every week till I turned seventeen. I recently began going to church again and have taken an interest in reading the bible.
I still pray when I=m in trouble or need some help getting through rough times. But more than anything I thank God for what he=s given me. Another day of life, health and the safety of my friends and family. Sometimes I speak out loud asking for advice. I try to hear or feel his answer and guidance.
It wasn=t until about three months ago that I had an awakening. Something that proved to me there was a higher power. Someone watching over me and giving me a second, third and fourth chance. I used to get myself in a lot of trouble. I would go out with friends, drink more than my limit and make a lot of dumb decisions. I chose drinking, partying and sex over school. I don=t think there is anything wrong with doing all that but I should=ve made school and family a priority and I should=ve drank responsibly. All that drinking has gotten me into two major car accidents that I amazingly walked away from and didn=t injure anyone else and a dui. Not to mention a ton of car repair and court bills. But still, that wasn=t enough. I recently got caught driving with a suspended license two weeks before I was supposed to get my license back. I went to court and I had everything I needed, or so I thought. Even though I had my insurance and a valid drivers license the judge still chose to give me a huge fine and sentence me to ten days in county jail for a violation of probation.
I was really devastated and scared. Not so much for myself but for my girlfriend. I knew she was going to take the news hard. Well a day later I surrendered myself to the Sheriffs and off I went to the twin towers after spending eight hours in a holding cell with other inmates. I can honestly say after getting out of the towers in downtown, it=ll take a lot more to scare me. It=s a place I never want to go back to again. While I was in there I saw Deputies beat inmates almost to death just because they were looked at wrong or spoken back to. I stood there shaking while I heard the screams of pain and pleas for the inmates life. I could hear his jaw break from the five or six officers stomping on his head and the flashlights cracking his bones. All that was left was a bloody trail from dragging him out and a pool of urine that he left while he was on the ground. All I could think was, A I don=t belong here. All I did was drive without a license. I didn=t steal, hurt or kill anyone@. After that my praying began. I began praying really hard and it seemed the more I prayed the faster I was moving along. I=ve heard the processing part of jail takes up to two days. I got in my bed in twelve hours. But I still wasn=t safe.
I was in a barrack with about one hundred and fifty other guys. All different races, all sticking with their own race. They have their rules to follow and I just tried to stay out of their way. For almost a day I stayed in my bed. Growing more nervous as I kept on getting looks by the white and black inmates. And every hour or so they would announce names of people that were being released. For about twenty hours I waited and prayed for my name to be called. Finally I was the very last person to be called for the day. And it was right before lights out. And I believe all of my prayers were heard because that night I was told by some inmates how lucky I was to be leaving because there was gong to be several fights breaking out between the different races. Since I=ve gone through that experience I=ve been trying to go to church on a regular basis, give thanks for what I have and what I=ve learned and I=ve even started to take more interest in reading the bible. I believe I was brought in this world for a purpose. And I know what it is. Now it=s my job to make it happen. And I really believe I get all of my confidence from God. I don=t blame him for things that have happened to me. I believe he was teaching me a lesson in life and to get my act together. And I thank him for that.
When I was younger I saw churches with different names in front. Like, AChurch of the Nazarene@, ALater Day Saints@. To this day I don=t know what that means. When I was eighteen I attended a Christian mass because my girlfriend=s father didn=t approve of his daughter dating a Catholic. So I did it to make him happy because I cared for my girlfriend. I was a little nervous at first because it was at a smaller church and a lot less people compared to a traditional Catholic mass. The length of the mass was about the same and everything was really similar. After the mass they broke off into groups to talk about things that bother us in our everyday lives, problems around the world and just to get to know each other more. It was almost like being in my confirmation class all over again. I didn=t mind going but I did feel a little guilty and I did sense a little disappointment from my parents. So I stopped going after about a month.
I don=t think my religion affects me in a negative way. Most of my friends are the same religion. We grew up with the same beliefs and understand where we are coming from. I think these days people are more open about other religions. Maybe not about practicing them but maybe learning more about them. I know I am. Some people just don=t know how to approach other people about their religion. I don=t know how. I feel some people might react to my curiosity the wrong way.