Saturday, December 28, 2013

Thinking about God and Life as a Teenager, from "Cecilia's Diary 1962-1969"

I'm sharing excerpts from my diary. These sections have to do with God. I never felt religious then, nor now, but I can see from re-reading these excerpts that as a teenager I thought of God a lot.
December 9, 1966
I ask these questions to myself because I need to know the answers:
-     Why did God create me?
-          Why did He create men, things, the universe?
-          How is God real?
-          What comes after death?
-          Is heaven or hell real?
-          Is there hell?
-          Isn’t it rather unfair for God to allow people to go to hell?
-          Does evil exist?
-          Is the church a true church?
-          Are her teachings true?
-          How come there are so many superstitions?
-          What am I supposed to be? What does God expect of me?

All these questions and more bother me deeply. I must get the answers. Until I figure out the answers I cannot believe in the church really. I mean I must find out if the Catholic Church is right and is the best religion. I am so confused. 
I never had this problem before. I listened to everything taught me. One would say I believed but I didn’t really, because believing implies a careful consideration and understanding and a firm acceptance or rejection. I did not of these. I just followed everything because it was expected of me. And then I woke up. And I saw that my childish beliefs just wouldn’t satisfy the questions raging within me.I had to get rid of them and yet not all because one just cannot cut off beliefs of nineteen years. I need to choose which beliefs stay and which have to go. And I am afraid because I must do it alone.

December 22, 1966

            I guess every person must decide what he should do with his life. I ask myself this question and before I can answer them, I must know why I exist at all. I don’t think it was all an accident that I AM… that any person IS at all.
            Okay, there is a God. I do not know what kind of Being He is. I guess it’s impossible to fathom that. Granted He is a God of love, and granted He made everything (including me) for love, I still can’t see why I exist. I must know because then I can shape my life. Or will life just shape itself? Will life shape me?
            I’m confused, but one thing sure, I must do something with my life. I must be useful, for the very reason that I exist.
            Perhaps I can spread love. Yes, I can always spread the word of God. Isn’t that what we are supposed to do? I know I should live a good life because that is a way of “spreading God’s word.” And yet I wonder if the world is worth being good for. Maybe that’s it. I should try (at least) to make this world good. Tough job.
            I want to be good but I have been greatly discouraged. The person whom I admired most turned out to be a hypocrite, an insecure egotist. And so I wonder if there really are good men. But if I can be good, then surely there are other people who are good.
            I am selfish. I want to be good so people will think me that way and so I will have a good husband and things will (I presume) go smoothly. Of course, now I realize that life won’t be that simple. At any rate, I’ll try to be good not only for others but more for myself. I must try to raise humanity to the highest level. It will be hard but I will try. I need an example and — yes — I think I see it now — Christ came and lived and died to same men and to be an example.
            Tomorrow I’ll buy “Imitation of Christ.”

Thursday, February 9, 1967

I bought “Imitation of Christ” in Bookmark. Maybe I’ll improve if I read that. I want to be good. Being naughty is tiring. Also, I don’t smile as much any more. Tomorrow I’ll make an extra effort to smile.
I was looking at my “souvenirs” and started to feel nostalgic. Why am I so sentimental and emotional? Am I really this way or do I just pretend to be? No — I really am a romantic, and an idealist too. I will never be able to face and accept the world as it is. If you think about it, it’s not easy swallowing the poverty, lying, fighting, etc. It’s a tough world.
I want to live in a dream world of gardens, beautiful dresses, gentlemen, my beloved little children, trees, laughter. Again, a nice list — soft babies, a wonderful husband, peace and happiness. Is this “dream world” impossible?
I dream of marriage, and I would be willing, rather I would love cooking, keeping house and having children. But first I must learn not to be selfish. I am too selfish. I must get rid of my insecurity and learn to be a real Christian woman.
Funny but now Christianity has a deeper meaning for me — thanks to Sister Gabriel. Of course I am not yet a real Christian but will strive to be. I will start now.
I have tried to run away from Him, but I found only dissatisfaction and discontent. True — no real unhappiness, but also no real happiness. I hope to find God. I hope to be happy.
Oh God, teach me to love You. You are so great, so unthinkable, so unimaginable. I recognize Your greatness but there are also so many other things I don’t understand about You. I want to love You. Love me God. Take care of me, a sinner. I have sinned, and I will sin, but please always remind me to come back to You, to Goodness, to Love. I love you, and yes, teach me to accept sacrifices. St. Teresa said You give pain to Your friends. Teach me to be Your friend, to accept sorrow, etc.
 God, I’m sleepy now. I feel sort of silly for having written you, but I’m glad I did. It will remind me in the future if I should stray from You. God, take care of us, my family, my friends, the poor, everybody. 

Cecilia's Diary 1962-1969 is available in book form from Anvil (, and in ebook from Kindle and Nook.

Originally written in longhand, Cecilia’s Diary 1962-1969 is a faithful record of Brainard’s days as a young colegiala student in Manila. Barely changing anything in the diary except names and grammar lapses, the diary covers the years when Brainard was in high school through college. The diary is refreshing and funny, replete with references to a religious upbringing and a privileged lifestyle. Reading a diary may seem like voyeurism, but the inner thoughts of Catholic girls make for an interesting study on teen angst.
Cecilia’s Diary inspires a comparison of the different generations of Filipinas. Regardless of time, the book is a vivid account of growing up. It can also serve as a valuable reference to high school students who are keen on starting their own journals.
All for now,

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