When you think of Spain, and religion, I think I’m safe in saying you would agree that the country’s population is predominately Catholic. Thus being said and known, I was excited to experience faith in a new way. The cathedrals with years of age and beauty, and the people with a heart that is always yearning for our Savior – what more could I ask for? Well…it wasn’t quite that simple.
Yes – I believe in God, and I believe He has a sense of humor. I believe He challenges us but never gives us more than we can handle. I also should know that my plans are not always His. So when I was expecting to seek and find Him that simply, I should have known there’d be more. Now, it’s not like I’m not finding Him at all – because I know He is always with me and I can feel that now more than ever – it’s just He’s not revealing Himself in the ways I had imagined.
“He reveals deep and hidden things; He knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells within Him.” Daniel 2:22
It all happened in one day….right after they had caught on that I am a Christian, I found out one of my best friends here in Spain is a proclaimed satanist (that hit me like a rock), but what came out of that instantly was an opportunity to shine some light. They tell me this, pause and say “if you don’t want to be my friend anymore I understand.” Okay, I know there are people out there (and maybe it’s one of you reading this-and don’t worry, I wouldn’t think any differently of you) who would say that that was probably for the best. I chose to show love, I told them that I still wanted to be their friend, everyone has the right to choose what they believe and then I said that we should talk about it sometime. We haven’t talked about it or religion since that day, but when the time is right and our hearts are prepared, it will! Until that time, I will wait and seek God and pray for His divine intervention in my words and actions.
“A new command I give to you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
That night, I go home and my new family is preparing dinner. We sit around the table and there is a basket with break and a goblet of what appears to be wine. I am thinking how wonderful is this? I get to celebrate in communion with my host family! My host mom comes out and proceeds to explain to me what is about to happen. She begins by telling me their family is Jewish -I don’t have much experience with this culture or religion- and that they have shabbat every Friday night and Saturday afternoon. I enjoy getting to experience this new religion – and especially by diving in rather than reading about it. Shabbat is celebrated by the dad saying a blessing in Hebrew and then he does a small ritual consisting of breaking the bread, rubbing it in salt and then throws a piece to everyone around the table, the goblet with a form of juice (not wine, and quite bitter if you ask me) is passed around. My youngest host brother -David – is so picky about everything it amazes me. So when I go to pass him the drink, he simply touches his finger to it to only get a small taste as he refuses to take a sip. *Where was this option when I was a young girl taking communion? #growingupcatholic After this, while Pilar (madre) goes to get the first meal, Sami (padre) puts his and on each boy and says a special blessing of the youth in Hebrew. It’s a great experience but it lead to me needing to seek God in a new way. No more relying on my routine of daily bible and devotional reading and praying, it’s time to put forth full effort.
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13
Seeking God is something we should never stop doing, and I honestly try to remember this everyday, but I am guilty of getting consumed in my daily routine. Sometimes that means losing the feeling of being in relationship with God. So when thinking of what to right for this blog, I realized. Religion. It’s simply a way to concretely tell someone what you believe in and why; a shared set of beliefs between a common population; and a set of guidelines to help you walk in relationship* with God. I was struggling to find my religion here, then I remembered… Relationship. A unique and individual experience between you and God – no one else! It’s completely yours and what you make of it. After I remembered this, I realized just how BLESSED I am! God and I have a relationship so strong, that no matter what curve balls I get thrown within different religious/non-religious aspects, I know that I’m going to be okay.
“God is within her, she will not fall.” Psalm 46:5
With my new found confidence, the next Sunday I ventured out to the cathedral on my own. I had seen it on a small tour of the city, so I looked up how to get there and off I went. On a side note, I figured since this cathedral is famous, beautiful, and in Spain, that people would dress really nice for mass. It was a little cold, but I decided to wear a nice dress anyways so that I wouldn’t stand out….wrong. I think I was the best dressed (never a bad thing though I suppose!) Anyways, the cathedral is breathtaking – I have a slideshow below (because there’s so many pictures!)
Cathedral Almudena *Almudena Catedral or Santa Maria la Real de La Almudena, is the Catholic cathedral in Madrid and also is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese. The plans for this cathedral began early 16th century, and construction started in 1897, but it wasn’t finished until it was consecrated by John Paul II in 1993. While other Spanish cities had cathedrals, and Madrid has other old churches, making this cathedral the largest the world had seen at this time was a priority.
Love your girl abroad,