Spain - 2013
My name is Paloma Aguado, I´m 16 years old and I´m a junior in high school.
I was born into a Catholic family and I´m the second of 4 children (3 girls and 1 boy). My parents have always gone to daily mass and taken us with them. They met the Home when I was two years old, so you could say that I grew up in the Home, because I´ve always gone to events with my parents. When I was little, I didn´t like the Home, I´m not really sure why, because I always had a good time....except during the Holy Week encounters when all the groups had to do a skit and perform it in front of everyone, just having to practice it was torture! I have to admit that until I was 12 years old I didn´t get up on the stage to perform, I always started crying and ended up not participating. This always happened because I was very, but seriously very shy. When I was with the other kids my age, I was a normal girl, in fact it´s never been hard for me to make friends, but when I knew that people were looking at me, it was awful.
This shyness made me a little bit annoying on several occasions because I didn´t want to go anywhere with anyone but my parents, friends, or people who were very close to us. This began when I was about 6 years old and it got progressively better over the years, until I was about 12.
My two sisters and I, ever since we were little, have gone to a Catholic school run by Opus Dei, in which we have received very good formation. I am very grateful to this school because thanks to it, and to my family, I´ve been able to build the foundations of my Christian life. The school also helps us to live it well, for we have daily mass and the opportunity for frequent confession. However, despite this, during this time I had almost no relationship with God. The only really personal relationship that I remember was when I was 7 years old and I received my first communion.
Ok, so moving on to my pre-teen years, which in my case began when I was around ten years old. During this time, I didn´t want to go to daily mass with my parents; a couple of times I got mad, but normally I went, just as something else that you have to do…like doing your homework, there´s no other choice. I didn´t like the Home either, it was like I was allergic to the Servant Sisters and everything that had to do with them. The majority of the time this “allergy” was only seen at home because I hated it when people looked at me, so I never want to get mad in front of everyone. Anyways, when I forgot that I didn´t like them, I had a great time…so it wasn´t that bad.
When I began eighth grade (2009-2010), I also began my teenage years, in which I was fed up with everything. I decided to not go to mass during the week; since it was optional at school, I took advantage of the fact that no one was watching. I didn´t go to mass and then at home I would say that I did go. This only lasted a couple of months because I realized that I was missing something when I didn´t go to mass, and because I hated having to lie all the time.
During this year, the sisters held a retreat for girls at La Aldehuela, in Madrid, for the feast of the Immaculate Conception. During the retreat, we´ll say that I didn´t behave well and I got a good talking-to. At first I didn´t take it very well, but they helped me a lot; they opened my eyes and I realized that I wasn´t as good as I thought I was. In addition, during the retreat I received a ton of graces; it was the first time that I felt like the Virgin Mary was really my mother, before then I didn´t have a personal relationship with her…I knew that she was the mother of Jesus and my mother, but it didn´t mean anything to me, they were just words. Also, during this retreat, I understood the huge importance of mass and I reached the point where I experienced that I needed daily mass, and that it was, and is, what helps me to live the rest of the day. From this retreat on, I began to have a personal relationship with Christ and with Our Lady. It was the jump that I made from living my parent´s religion to living my own faith. This faith was no longer a series of norms but a person, Jesus Christ.
That time also changed my relationship with the Home. That year, for the first time, I had a spiritual director, I didn´t tell her very much but a lot of what she told me helped me a lot. Also, that summer I spent two weeks in Santander with the sisters and with the girls.
Normally that are a lot of girls there during the summer, but since it was already August, most of the girls had gone back to the States and so one of the weeks it was just three girls with all of the sisters. So, having to live day-to-day with the Servant Sisters brought me a lot closer to them and my relationship with them changed, it became a lot closer. I even started to really like them, which was good for me…let me explain myself.
When I didn´t like them, most of the time I didn´t pay attention to what they were saying to me because I didn´t care; my heart was closed to everything that came from them (not always, but a lot of the time). Therefore, when I opened myself up, I learned a lot; above all, I began to get to know God and, like I said before, the faith became a person, Jesus.
Ever since then, my relationship with God has continued to grow and, even though sometimes I´ve wanted to distance myself from Him, I´ve never been able to because I´ve always known that it´s in Him that one finds true happiness...so, every time that I´ve strayed away, I always end up coming back (thank goodness!). So, if any of you have this attitude of wanting to flee from God, don´t keep running, because He runs faster.
When we go away from God, He always lends us a hand so that we can come back to Him. But since we can´t see him, many times we don´t realize this, that´s why we need someone there to remind us. This is what the Home has meant for me; it has been the lifeline which has helped me to take Christ´s hand and unite myself to Him and to Our Mother.