So, I’m not a practicing Catholic. In fact, I have not practiced in years. It’s one of the things my mom struggles with on a daily basis, especially on days like yesterday. She was visiting me over the weekend and I took her to one of the local catholic churches so she could attend mass. During the service, I don’t do “stuff.” You know? The sign of the cross, the prayers, COMMUNION(!). But I smile. I smile a lot. However, my mom feels solely responsible for my own personal decision to not practice. But can you blame her? I mean, she is the tortilla lady.
But she’s not to blame for my decision. In fact, if there is one thing that I love the most about my mom, it is her faith. She has an unwavering faith in God and despite my own personal thoughts about the Roman Catholic Church, I can’t, nor could I ever, question her faith. Too much has happened to her for me to be so insensitive and self-righteous.
When the face of Jesus appeared on the tortilla that morning of October 5, 1977, my mom was facing some really tough challenges and perhaps was inching towards complete and utter hopelessness. Through our conversations about this experience, she says that not only did she deal with depression, anxiety and malnutrition, but she also had to deal with my dad’s alcoholism, which was at its peak during that time. By 1977, my parents had been married for twenty years and for every one of those years, my mom was not only sick, but my dad drank heavily and was verbally abusive. For a woman facing these challenges and then to have the publicity of a “jesus tortilla” on her plate (no pun intended), it wasn’t easy.
So while the rest of the world makes fun of this woman and her “jesus tortilla,” I gotta say, it was the tortilla that could have potentially saved her life. Not the tortilla per se, because that’s. just. weird. Instead, while the idea may sound ridiculous to many of you, her faith, in general, was in jeopardy and this “tortilla” was a sign that she needed to hold on. Just a little bit longer.
On Sunday, as I glanced over at my mom during mass, I couldn’t help just stare at her as she worshipped. Despite my own personal feelings and beliefs, I think about what the world would look like if each and every one of us had even an ounce of my mom’s faith. Would we be better off?