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One Mass- New Life

Last weekend I ran and attended a retreat titled, “Prayer is the key that opens the heart of God: Love God and be loved in return.” It was inspiring to see how the Lord was working so powerfully in all of the participants. ( I will talk about the retreat in another blog) The wonderful thing about attending a good retreat is that it gives one the opportunity to reflect on the bountiful blessings of the Lord. Like all effective retreats it got me reflecting on my life, where I am now, where I came from, and where I am going. But first things first…the decision that changed my life forever.

 
I remember the day clearly; it was a frigid Sunday morning in the middle of February, the year 2005. I was a broken, depressed, hopeless person. I had tried everything to be happy but nothing had worked up to that point. I had dabbled in eastern spiritualities, countless “isms” the new age, music, and relationships. The only thing that was evident was that I was depressed , and as a 23 year old I felt that my life was over before it had even begun.

 
I argued with my mother and brother, I did not want to go to some Catholic church in the ghetto of Newark. I felt that I had given Catholicism its fair share and it hadn’t worked for me.  I finally relented and decided to attend that mass.  The church was St. Antoninus; a charismatic parish which emphasized the public expression of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I felt like I was at an evangelical church instead of a catholic one, but despite my reservations, something inside of me began to change…

 
As soon as I heard the gospel, I felt peace. I felt happier. I felt lighter.  I remember how at the end of mass when I was introduced to the parish I boldly stated, “I have found my home, I have found my home and that home is the Catholic Church.” I went to confession for the first time in years, cried like a baby, and the rest like they say is history…

 
At that point, I decided to give my life (and the managing of my life) over to the Lord and so much has changed for the better.  Since I came back to the church:

  •  I found my masculine identity which is manifested in my passion for justice and taking charge of situations
  • I  found my vocation (marriage)
  • I returned back to school and am currently wrapping up my bachelor’s in Music Therapy, finally earning a diploma after years of false starts and empty commitments
  • I was able to obtain a car to help me to get to school even when I had no money
  • I purchased a beautiful engagement ring even when I had no money 
  • I had a unique and special wedding even when I had no money ( See a trend here?)
  • I am managing my emotional and mental issues (through medication, but medicine also comes from the Lord)
  • I found a faith community in Spirit and Truth; a community which solidified my talents as a leader and blessed me with many good friends who are also passionate about God
  • I have been healed from my childhood brokenness ( Of course this is a work in progress)
  • I married the woman of my dreams
  • I have begun to utilize my talents in leadership, writing, music, composing, organization, and public speaking
  • I have developed a powerful resilience that gives me the strength to persevere under life’s challenges
I highlighted these miracles not to give anyone the impression that my life has been a rosy, “happily ever after” perpetual bowl of peaches. Far from it! I still struggle each day against the weight of my imperfections, I am still human, I still make a million mistakes, but the wonderful news is that in spite of these imperfections the Lord is still able to work miracles in my life. I shudder to think where I would be standing today if the Lord did not intervene and give me the opportunity to come back like the prodigal son.  I would have just been a bitter 30 year old, fully alive on the outside, but dead on the inside.

It still baffles me that God actually works this way. He gives us free will, we have the choice to choose Him or not choose Him. Well, that day in 2005 - I chose Him.  I chose Life.   (Whadda ya think Renee?  Good choice? )



 

Comments

  1. What a happy story! When I read this I am convinced all over again that God is not only out there, but He's right there - all the time, through ups, downs, turns - everywhere. Your story should give other people who are in despair renewed hope and the feeling that it's worth finding that peace & happiness you speak of that can only come from the Lord. Thanks for sharing this!

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