In this first official month of us being on WordPress, our first official theme/topic, if you will, is our stories of why we are Catholic, what drew us into the Heart of God. As you can see, the latter part of the title of our blog is “Where faith and life intersect.” In our stories, you will get to see the real beginnings of where our faith life and daily lives began to intersect, and I am excited about having the privilege to share mine with you.
I wish I could say that I had a defining moment in which I reverted, however this is not the case. My coming to the truth of the Catholic Church was gradual. I grew up as a cradle Catholic – along with every other member of my family. We went to Church every Sunday, however did not have any particular faith devotions as a family, so I was never really pushed/encouraged to deepen my relationship with God. For my family, faith was more about duty than about a relationship with God. I was a Catholic by name only.
When I was in high school, the turning point began. I was a hurting and broken girl, lacking in confidence of all sorts. I did not believe that I was good, worthy, or beautiful, as the world, and my family, communicated otherwise. I did not know God, but this was all to change. In October of 2003, at Mass over thanksgiving weekend, there was an announcement made by our parish Priest that a NET team (National Evangelization Team) would be starting a youth group shortly at our parish. I had no idea what this meant, or how it would pan out, but I was intrigued. I knew this was something big, and I needed to go.
Shortly thereafter, toward the end of October/beginning of November, the NET team began their ministry, in which they had a Mass geared to teens on Sunday nights, followed by a youth group. What drew me into attending youth group was seeing the faith of the NET team, how they worshipped God, and their joy (which I knew came from God). I wanted this – badly. I knew that this was exactly what I was looking for, and that God was exactly who I was looking for. I wanted the joy that they had– I wanted to get to know God and for Him to be my joy, as He was their joy.
My knowledge of the Truth, love of God, and self-confidence began to deepen through what I learned in the life nights that went on throughout the time that the NET team was at my parish. It continued as they left and other youth ministers and team leaders stepped in to take over. The most important way that I grew into a deeper relationship with God was through the Sacraments, especially through the Eucharist and Confession. A relationship is not just built on knowledge of another person but through spending time with them, and the sacraments gave me this opportunity. While I attended youth group, we would frequently have the privilege of having nights with Eucharistic Adoration, adoring Jesus face to face, who is present Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Blessed Sacrament. I was able to build a relationship with God by spending time with Him in the sacraments and through personal prayer. This is not something that I had really experienced before, or really understood, until this time.
One particular instance sticks out which I have never forgotten. It was after a life night in which we had Eucharistic Adoration. I was waiting for my ride home, and I knew I had some time to wait, so I went upstairs to wait by the front doors of the Church. I was the only person upstairs and the Church was empty, with all the lights off, except for the vigil light, which was burning (this is a candle beside the Tabernacle, which burns all the time to make parishioners aware that Jesus is in the Tabernacle). As I walked into the Church to spend a little more time with Jesus, I felt His presence all around me. It was extremely tangible, and extremely heavy. I compare this feeling to a moistness or dampness in a room – you cannot see or touch it, but you know it is there because it is so utterly heavy and tangible that you feel completely enveloped by it. I felt God’s love so deeply and so fully, that I could not help but make my way up to the front of the Church, stand in front of the Tabernacle, and raise my hands and worship Jesus for a few minutes. I told Him how I loved him and how grateful I was for this amazing gift, which He had given me. The moments that I had were so intimate and so real. I was so grateful to spend a few moments like this with him and it is my most favorite encounter with Him. I knew for a fact that God loved me, that He existed and that He is really present in the Holy Eucharist. There was no question about what I had experienced– This is the Truth. Jesus has led me to spend many more hours in Eucharistic Adoration and in personal prayer at home and I love it more and more each time I enter into it, spending much needed time with God.
I know that faith in and relationship with God can be hard at times, especially as He is not someone who we can physically go for coffee with, go to the movies, or sit down and have a discussion with. God, however, has given Himself to us in the Holy Eucharist so that He may “be with us until the End of Time” (Matthew 28:20). I urge you and plead you to visit him regularly in Eucharistic Adoration, either at your nearest perpetual adoration chapel, or at your home Parish. Please visit the link at the bottom of the page for a list of Eucharistic Adoration chapels/times in your area. If your home Parish does not typically offer Eucharistic Adoration, try to speak with your Priest about starting it up (even once or twice a month), go to Mass earlier/stay later to spend time with him in the Church, or just visit Him in the Tabernacle. Jesus has a storehouse of graces for us, which He wants to give us, but we need to come to Him. Jesus has said in Matthew 26:40 (NRSV) “Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “So, could you not stay awake with me one hour?.”
Jesus in the Eucharist changed my life. I know that He can change yours. He gave me the grace to understand that my worth, dignity, and beauty, is found in and from Him. He thinks that I’m worth dying for, and even more so, worth perpetually giving Himself for in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. I encourage you to attend a Holy Hour of Eucharistic Adoration regularly, and see what happens. I can promise you that things will change, provided that you want to know Jesus from the depths of your being and hold nothing back, for it is in being vulnerable that we can be loved, and that we can change. In the Eucharist, you will know you are loved. Open your heart to Him. Let Jesus in and he will change your whole life as He has changed mine.
God love you,
For Eucharistic Adoration Chapels in Canada and the USA: http://www.therealpresence.org:80/canada/chap_fr.htm