God is the same all over the World

I was born on a small island, Gozo. When I was just 4 days old, my parents had me baptised in the parish of Gharb where we were living at the time.

I have always associated the word belief with my religion. I was born and raised a Catholic which means I belong to a community of millions around the world. Like most in this community, I base my beliefs on the Holy Scriptures and the church teachings. We had Religious Education lessons in High School too. I knew how to be a Catholic. The church was central to life on the island and everything happened because and around church feast days. My Aunt was the first person to indicate that it was okay not to be a nun but still work for the church.

Although I was prepared for my sacraments by nuns, I attribute my spiritual growth to my father. He is not perfect but I now understand that he has always tried to understand people rather than make them fit in what others view as normal. He has always asked 'why?' without expecting a response knowing that answers are not always there for us to see. And yet he has maintained a deep faith and a great love towards God. He passed on a great admiration towards St Paul and his writings. My father has also influenced my attitude towards others. He has always maintained that one is never better or worse than others in whatever situation or standing. My father is also the instigator and chief supporter of my migration dream. He was very generous in allowing me to leave him and my mother behind, to look for something that could broaden my horizons, and experience something different and hopefully better.

I migrated to Australia with my future husband. A new country with different people, different attitudes and very different values. As a new comer I was way outside my comfort zone. I spoke the language but was not understood. It was hard at first and for many years I did not quite fit in. My sense of belonging had shifted and I now concentrated on my immediate family. I felt that was the only place I truly belonged. My relationship with my husband changed because suddenly he was the only one who understood where I was coming from and yet he fitted in with the locals a lot better than me. But through all this, I had a constant – my faith in God. God is the same all over the world and knowing that I am loved wherever I am gave me a different sense of belonging. My church community helped me establish new roots and I am now a valued member of my parish.

My move to Australia was a bonus to my spiritual life. Before moving here, I was comfortable with my spiritual nourishment...or so I thought. I was never challenged. But here I have to work hard to keep my faith strong. I cannot rely on just going to church or for the parish to organise things for me. Faith is a grace given to me by God and like a gift I must look after it.

Throughout our lives we are tested and our attitudes change because each test chisels away at our core. My biggest hits have involved my children. There is no book to follow, lots of theories founded on statistics. And I cop it on the chin, waiting for this child to grow and see things the way I do, the same way the world sees things. Waiting impatiently but waiting because I also love unconditionally. And because I know that once I was that child and my parents loved me through my turbulent years. My children have also brought about my greatest and happiest memories.

Illness is another fork in the journey of life. I cannot compare myself with the sick in hospital but being incapacitated for a short time is enough to destabilise ones sense of worth in a world where good health often equals power, energy, work, freedom and strength and ultimately money. Having had an unknown illness for a few months made me realise that there is no age limit to illness; no escaping pain because I had young kids and still had a lot to live for. All these afterthoughts made me value my present moments better. My future became less predictable so my now became more valuable. I still have dreams and hopes but not at the expense of the present.

I mostly learn by experience. I have recently learnt how to listen to myself and in return am starting to react differently to situations....I am still growing! My spiritual development cannot be attributed to just one or two experiences. I like to learn something from anything including and especially my own mistakes. That makes everyone I come across an important person in my growth: my parents, family, friends and relatives, my husband and children, and my parish.

I am tested often; at work because of different reasons and at home because I try my best to be a good mother to teenagers! Life is never dull but I am learning.