Personal Testimonies are supposed to be three to five minutes. I suspect that my written version of how I met Jesus violates that rule. But, since many of you have known me a while, I think that I have to add a few details that I don’t when I am speaking to people who know less about me.
Thus, here is my personal testimony of how and when I met the Lord. I break it into sections so that perhaps you can abbreviate your reading where necessary. The over arching truth of my life is that the Lord kindled a fire that did not die away, despite trials and personal failings. Thanks be to God, here is how I met Jesus.
I. Death to life – I know by faith that I met Jesus the day I was born. I know this because I was baptized the day that I was born. Having complications with something called “RH factor” in my blood, it was likely I might not survive the day, so the priest was summoned and I was baptized at once. It was July 10, 1961, St Francis Hospital, Evanston, Ill.
And thus, Jesus came, and saved my soul, he also saved my life in this world. For here I am, still alive all these years later.
And though I know by faith, that I met him that day, I have no memory of it. But indeed, he did establish a powerful relationship with me at that moment. I say this because my earliest memory is of talking with Jesus. I have a few memories from early childhood but my clearest and oldest memories were of how Jesus spoke to me.
I think I was approximately five years old. There was a Sacred Heart statue in my room. It was unique because the Lord’s robes were not red, but blue. And in my room I could go, and the Lord spoke to me, tenderly, and in the way a five-year-old could understand. I do not say that the statue talked, it did not, but it did signal the Lord’s presence, and I always knew that I could go to my room and there experience the Lord’s presence and talk with him.
I also want to be clear, Jesus was not just some “imaginary friend.” I had those as a child, and I knew the difference. Jesus was real, and He spoke to me in a different way. I knew I was not making it up, that he was initiating it. With my imaginary friends, I ran both sides of the conversation. But Jesus was no imaginary friend, he was someone who was quite real, who loved me, and spoke tenderly to me.
Yes, these are my earliest memories. At the dawning of my life, my first memories are that Jesus was already there in a relationship with me, simple, intimate, and very reassuring.
II. Dormition – I do not know when or why exactly, but this connection ended. I have a sad memory, though vague, of speaking to an adult in my life, (probably my mother) and explaining that Jesus had gone. I remember even offering some sort of explanation, that perhaps he had to go help other people who need his help more.
This was a time in my life where I began to discover there was a very big world out there, and there were some very awful things happening there. Perhaps my clinging to Jesus seemed selfish. But I attributed his disappearance to the fact that others “needed his help more.”
My awakening in regard to the worse sufferings of others happened when I heard that my father had to go to a far away place called Vietnam, where people were killing each other. Things were very sad there, and there were many orphans and much sorrow.
I was seven years old when my daddy left for the war. And I don’t know if there’s a direct connection, but it was at that time that mysteriously I stopped experiencing Jesus so personally. Yes, I figured he had to go help someone else. I knew Jesus was up in heaven, and I knew he knew and cared about me still, but I no longer heard his voice.
III. Deepening Darkness – At this point, my spiritual life and relationship with the Lord went into remission. I went through the motions: First Confession, First Communion. I knew I was receiving Jesus, but my relationship was less personal, more theoretical, more intellectual.
My father came back from the war, a changed man somehow, sadder and with more anger. My family was uprooted from my boyhood home in North Chicago, as my father’s next duty assignment was down in Florida.
My spiritual dormition (sleep) deepened, and soon enough became a great darkness. At age 10, (1971) as a result of several family crises, I began having my first panic attacks and I remember once saying to my mother that I understood what older people meant when they said that life was hard. I did not think at that time I wanted to live long, and hoped to die young.
As I edged towards my teenage years, I went from being a fretful child, to a teenager often plagued by bouts of severe anxiety and phobias: I feared fire, home invasion, and domestic violence. My parents sent me to a counsellor, and I was placed on psychotropic meds for the first time.
I prayed little in these years and though required to attend Mass, I was uninspired by it, and almost never thought of God or had any interest in things spiritual. My spiritual sleep was all but complete, and the darkness of my anxiety also began to manifest as well as intense anger. Loud and angry rock music connected with my soul and gave voice to my anger and the rebellious spirit of my early high school years.
I developed hostility to things religious, to the Church, to the Bible, and I did not like being told what to do. In a sense, this was typical teenage rebelliousness, but I was about as far as I could be from those early tender years when Jesus used to speak to me quietly in my room.
IV. Dawning – And then Jesus called! I didn’t know it at first, but it was him, I know it now.
Among the “curses” in my life at that time was having to go to Mass on Sunday. And then one day, a high school choir formed at the Church that I attended, and I noticed there were very pretty girls in the choir. I could not sing at all, and did not like to sing, but I accepted an invitation to join the choir to meet the girls.
And I did meet them, and dated two of them seriously, and several of them more casually over the 4 to 5 years that followed. Strangely, I actually began to like the music, and was impressed with the sound of the mighty pipe organ.
I was not praying yet, I was still not spiritual, but through the goodness, truth and beauty of the music (and yes, the girls) The Lord was calling. The darkness had not passed, but light was on the horizon.
V. Development – I cannot fully develop every step which took place, but in varying stages in late high School and early College, I became cantor, the Church choir director, and an organist. That led to liturgy planning, studies of God’s Word, and entering more deeply into the life of the Church.
A strange and uncomfortable yearning began to develop within me, for though while completing my computer science degree and already working for the Army Corps of Engineers, and while dating a girl I intended to marry, a strange desire for the priesthood began to dawn on me. And it was strange. I was not really praying all that much, and I was working for a pastor in Virginia I did not respect. But in your twenties, sometimes you think you can make a difference, and somehow the priesthood seemed that sort of path for me: something I could do to make a difference.
My college sweetheart, for various reasons, mostly my fault, turned cool on me, and one day, I received my walking papers. One door closed, but I sensed another door still stood open: priesthood. I contacted the Archdiocese of Washington. Within two years, I was walking through the doors of the seminary.
I will not tell you that I had met the Lord again. Not yet, that was still to come. But I entered with pride really, thinking I could make a difference. Yet still, despite my sinful pride, the Lord was still calling.
He reached my mind first. I had entered the seminary poorly catechized, emerging from the “silly 70s” with “butterfly theology” at best. Yet in the seminary, despite dreadful dogmatics, and certain dubious scriptural classes, there were some very wonderful teachers and classes: Liturgy, Patristics, Church history, and Moral Theology were all solid. And that lit up my mind with joy. I supplemented the shortcomings of some of the scripture classes, and the dreadful dogmatics with wonderful books like Ralph Martin’s Crisis of Truth, and Fr. James O’Conner’s The Father’s Son, and The Hidden Manna etc.
Suddenly the beauty of Catholic truth entered the vacuum of my silly 70s mind, and I could hear the voice of Jesus speaking through Scripture and Tradition. I was thrilled with this wisdom, and the great deposit of faith. I was hungry and spent long hours in study. I graduated at the top of my class at Mount St. Mary’s.
But I still cannot say I had yet met Him again. Surely I heard his voice mediated through Scripture and Tradition but it was still not the same as that young boy at five years of age who knew Jesus very personally, that was still yet to come. In Seminary years I prayed an hour each day, but it was a struggle to really experience God at all during those times of prayer.
The Lord reached my heart in my deacon year. It was my canonical retreat, prior to ordination to the priesthood, and Fr. Francis Martin came to the seminary and set forth for us a powerful and cogent proclamation, that through the Word of God and the Sacraments, The Lord Jesus revealed himself to us, and invited us into a relationship that could and would totally change our lives, wherein we would see sins put to death and every virtue come alive.
And so, my heart was on fire and in every liturgy, every proclamation of the Word I began to hear the Lord Jesus, and experience His powerful ministry. My life to begin to change, I saw many sins put to death, and many graces come alive.
But still, I will not tell you, though having a new mind and heart, I had met him again. I knew him through his Word, and through the effects of his sacraments in my life. I knew by faith he existed, but I had not yet met him again. But he had my mind and my heart, and I was well along the path of what the mystics call “the purgative way.”
One final, and painful stage awaited me before I met him again.
VI. Distress – My early years of priesthood, were not without struggles, but they were largely pleasant and productive. Yet, my long history of anxiety and my tendency to fret continued to plague me.
An early promotion to the pastorate, seemingly a great compliment, plunged me into a period of great distress. Panic attacks, and unremitting anxiety robbed me of sleep for weeks, then into months. Demons found an easy doorway and added to my crisis, such that I became despondent. A dark presence enveloped my room, tormenting me and further robbing me of sleep.
It was clear I could not take up my pastoral duties, and I found myself to St. Luke’s Hospital for a week of mental evaluation. And yet, in this great crisis, through this great distress, there seemed to come some purification.
VII. Deliverance – Shortly thereafter, one morning in my holy hour I was praying,… and there he was! It was November of 1994, I was 33 years old.
I cannot describe to you his glory, for it is beyond words, analogies or pictures. Words like spaciousness, openness, wideness, glorious light, and deep serenity come to mind, but they are wholly inadequate. But there he was.
I said nothing, and He said nothing, yet everything was communicated. Words were not necessary at all. It was Cor ad cor loquitur (Heart speaking to heart). Here was what the mystics call “contemplative prayer,” or at least the first murmurings of it. Beyond words or images, not the devoid of them, but beyond them.
Yes there He was and I with him. I had met him again, whom my heart sought, and my mind delighted in. He was here and I with him.
Over the years, my experience of him in prayer has deepened. It has also become more gentle. Some days his presence is deeper than others, some days I struggle to see him at all. But quite consistently and faithfully throughout the years I have known his presence.
And as his presence in my prayers has deepened and become more contemplative, it has overflowed into my daily life. Increasingly, I have become a mystic on the move. Throughout the day, I see his presence beautifully displayed his creation, and in so many people I have come to know and love.
I remain startled at those say there is no evidence of God’s existence. His whole creation shouts “I am designed and it is he who holds me in existence.” I am powerfully aware of his presence in my prayer, and throughout the day, also in the liturgy, and in the glory of his Word and Sacraments.
And yet, I cannot forget those years when I knew him not. I am in no way unsympathetic to those who struggle to see him, but thanks be to God, I can say I know him, I have met him (again), and he is very, very real in my life. I feel his presence now, and a moved to tears as I write this.
He has been good to me, and I am so grateful, so very very grateful, that he looked beyond my fault and saw my need.
An old song says “Within our darkest night, you kindle fire that never dies away!” And that is my story, a fire he kindled that never died away, by his grace.
And I’m also grateful, for those who prayed for me in my darkest hours, especially my grandmother and my mother and so many parishioners who saw me through and witnessed to me of the glory of God in their life.
Yes, Jesus is real, I have met him, and speak to him each day in prayer. He kindled a fire in me when I was baptized. I knew it at age five, and strangely lost sight of it. But the fire he kindled never died away. And He, by the fire of his presence is changing my life. I am not what I want to be, but I am not what I used to be.
For all this I am grateful, so very grateful.
57 Replies to “He Kindled a Fire that Never Died Away – How I Met Jesus”
May the Lord keep you forever! Msgr., you have been a blessing for many people, we are grateful for your blog!
Thank you so very much for sharing your beautiful journey with the Lord. You have been greatly blessed to have known Him since you were a child. I didn’t meet the Lord until I was 51 years old. I so regret the many years I did not love Him. My heart is filled with sorrow for everyone in the world who has not met Him. Maybe, this is the time the Lord has chosen to reawaken our hearts to Him and for Him and maybe, our stories will open the eyes and hearts of those around us. The Lord has given you such a great gift of words and I know my journey with Him has been aided by reading them. Thank you again.
Monsignor, thank you for telling us your conversion story. Those of us who have converted to the Catholic Faith know the many times we have had to convert (conversion to the Faith is not usually instantaneous) and what a painful process it was–and sometimes continues to be. Many Catholics don’t seem to understand that ALL of us are called to conversion, every day (St. Josemaria Escriva used to say that each day is a blank sheet at the top of which we must write in a bold hand, “Serviam”). Thank you for being a priest who has chosen to let God take over completely; I thank God for the many priests I have known who bring me Jesus and especially those who are letting God make them holy. I am not saying what I am thinking and feeling very well, but I truly appreciate your humility in telling this story. I think it will help other people understand their trials.
I enjoyed reading this, Father. I long to have this connection with Jesus. Will it ever happen? How? I was also born in 1961. Thank you.
beautiful, calming great pictures.
This is exquisite. Thank you for sharing it!
Thank you for reminding me of how great our Lord is and how He is with us even we are not with Him.
Thank you for sharing this. Prayers for you.
You’ve clearly had a wide and varied experience in which you have played the roles of being a person of sacrifice, a consultant, a team leader and visionary in one particular area. You have had hands-on experience in the development of mixed drinks, choosing the right blend of scotch, and for tackling the glass at hand head-on.
In the past, few have accomplished the benchmark imbibing you’ve demonstrated. Your prowess for getting to know dysfunctional philosophies of life has also caused the blogosphere to fall in love with the sadness of you. Indeed, you are a total study in pity for no other reason than its sheer loveliness.
Your love for working in areas of low responsibility make you legendary. You make optimal use of the excuse so well that all expectation of motivation falls away upon hearing your dove-like shrills for attention and never ending emotional stroking. I applaud you.
I saw a terrible sight of this one at the Corn Maze last evening. He was clearly not himself again. All sorts of murmurs arose outside of his earshot I assure you. As I see it, this one is certainly lost in a maze of his own making.
Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful and inspirational testimony. It was very moving and really touched my heart and my soul. So much I could relate to, so much I pray, hope for and look forward to that you described.
Thank you for saying YES to Jesus’ call. The world is in desperate need of faithful, holy priests like you!
God Bless you now and forever – and please, if you remember, offer a prayer for my son who is preparing for the priesthood.
Two weeks ago, I received a subtle, but utterly clear message from God, that even in my most rebellious time of life, He was with me. The dormant grace baptism was a little spark that was waiting for a breath of air to return to flame. The words of the song you shared are another confirmation of His message, and I remember the love that He has for me, which is often hard for me to accept. Thank you for your story and your sharing of it at this time.
Dear Rev. Msgr. Thank you for sharing your wonderful experience
I Was also born in 1961 . I used to pray before the tabernacle for the last 15 years or more, After about three or four years of prayers before the tabernacle I started to see the face of Jesus, yes literally His face as a live drawing formed out the tabernacle cloth with expressions , on the tabernacle , it is still continuing, and I am more and more drawn towards the Eucharistic Adoration.
Christ is our Friend who comes and be with us when everyone has gone away and we are left stranded somewhere without any consolation or comfort.
Thank you for sharing so honestly, Monsignor. You never try to sugarcoat anything, and this makes your writing all the more beautiful. 🙂
GOD Bless you, Monsignor. Thank you for your sharing of your conversion story. I, for one was called back by GOD after 40 years in the dryness and thirstful desert of my life. I went out of the Church searching for a church of convenience that will cater to my whims only to return back to the Church of which I was baptized. Then HE let me realize HIS Presence in my life was and is always there all along. Yes, I see HIS Face and I am blest and still pray ‘LORD JESUS CHRIST, SON of The LIVING GOD, have mercy on me a sinner’ beating my breast and crying out from the depths of my heart. ‘Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the House of the LORD forever.’ AMen. I offer my pains and sufferings for you. YHWH MEKODDISHKEM
Thank you for writing this, Monsignor. My husband is very far from God and our young family has suffered greatly. However I know that God is mysterious in his ways and I trust Him entirely.
Thank you for sharing your wonderful experience, Father. I too was baptized on the day I was born because my twin sister who was born before me had her umbilical cord rapped around my throat and I turned blue. I have often thought that if after I was baptized I had died I would have went straight to heaven. I guess the Lord had other plans for me.
Thank you so much for sharing your testimony with us! Your testimony produces much comfort and reassurance, as well as much “food for thought”. Again, thank you , Monsignor!
Msgr.,the “pretty girls in the choir” seemed to put you back on the path towards the Lord. The Lord really does work in mysterious ways. Praise God !
Thank you for your testimony and the witness of Our Lord’s presence in your life.
I must say, for your readers, that I knew Msgr. reasonably well (or so I thought) during his years of seminary. In those days, I was enrolled as an undergraduate at a different part of the same institution. What surprises me the most, maybe even shocks me about this article, is Msgr’s description of his spiritual life during that time, as not having yet met the Lord in a real and powerful way.
Even prior to his diaconate ordination, Msgr (I’m sure he was unaware) powerfully radiated the presence of Christ. The good Lord’s attractiveness and joyfulness was strongly present in then-Mr. Pope. When I spent time with him, I came away wanting to be a better person, to be holier, in short, to be more like him. To think that internally he was going through such a profound struggle of growth, given what he outwardly communicated astonishes me.
I thank the great God for his presence in the life of Msgr and am terribly greatful to count Msgr a friend for over 25 years.
Msgr – May the Great God grant you many, many more years of fruitful ministry filled with the joy that surpasses understanding or desire. Ad multos annos
Cor ad cor loquitur. Heart speaks to heart. All of us must open our hearts to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and let Him come in and fill us with His love. I’m sure He has done that for you, Monsignor, and I’m grateful as I’m sure many others are for the frankness and honesty of your testimony. I’m glad you mention Tradition as well as Scripture. It’s surely both, not one or the other. When we try to read Scripture without taking the Church’s Tradition into account, even when we try to read it by the Analogy of Faith, we have a tendency to think that the institutional embodiment of the Faith by Peter and the other Apostles, in a living Tradition, is unimportant, and we can be tempted to veer off into various sorts of fundamentalism. Jesus is the vital center of our lives, but it is the Holy Spirit Who sustains the Church. Who has reminded the modern world–and reminded us more clearly than any other modern writer–of the Church’s Tradition? Who has reminded us that the Holy Spirit guided the Apostles to allow the Church Fathers to do their writing? Who has reminded us of the divine wisdom that has guided the Magisterium when dogmas and doctrines have had to be defined down the centuries? John Henry Newman. His personal motto? Cor ad cor loquitur. Let’s hope he’s soon proclaimed a Saint. Blessed John Henry, pray for us.
I wept at your description: “I cannot describe to you his glory, for it is beyond words, analogies or pictures. Words like spaciousness, openness, wideness, glorious light, and deep serenity come to mind, but they are wholly inadequate. But there he was.”
I wish everyone might one day have even a glimpse of that. It changes everything. These stories need to be shared! I think they make real for people the possibility that we really can have that kind of intimacy with Christ. Thank you.
Thank you. I was there, from the beginning, but did not heed the call to the Priesthod when it was so very there. I pray for your soul and mental peace. Please pray that I handle this life and serve Our Lord. Saint Dymphna, ora pro nobis.
Msgr please when you are in HIS presence again please pray for me. I have never seen HIM but I have always had the sense of something holy even though I have ruined much. I have always had the thought of HIM in my mind and more increasingly so since my reversion and increase in prayer. Please pray for my family Msgr!
Thank you for sharing the experiences of a priest which should be the experience of every priest of Christ who is baptized, ordained and take the body and blood of Christ. If only such priests lead the church, the Church on earth will be a heaven on earth. I am longing to have a personal encounter with Him very personal that I can say, Jesus touched me, I am cured.
Wow! That was so wonderful.
Yesterday I did a Communion Service at church and gave my testimony. I hope I’ve touched one person as much as yours did for me! I, too, have felt His presence and it has filled me with joy and peace beyond understanding. Thanks again.
Thanks for sharing your encounter with Jesus with us. Very beautiful. Amen.
I pray for all…With the Sacrifice at the next Traditional Mass.
Dear Father Pope,
Thank you for your testimonial: you have been granted a special grace – courage – to reveal such intimate details of the Lord’s presence in your life. Just when I thought I mastered G. K. Chesterton’s language, you introduce me to “butterfly theology:” please explain. And, while acknowledging your meaning, I would like to suggest this change to one of your sentences: “..the whole creation shouts ‘I am designed me, and it is I am who holds me in existence.” Again, my thanks, Gonzalo T. Palacios, Ph.D., author of The Virgin Mary’s Revolution, of love and do what you will. http://www.americanerasmus.com
“Butterfly theology” was a summation of 70s pop theology wherein the Christian life was often explained as analogous to a caterpillar which went into a cocoon and emerged as a beautiful butterfly. In addition to being overused and a little dopey, there were lots of theological problems with the image. For the butterfly’s change was really more of a metamorphosis, rather than a transformation, and the process was natural, not supernatural. Further, The caterpillar doesn’t die and rise to new life as we do in baptism…. etc., etc. It was all so typical of 70s pop theology, and exemplified how the catechesis of that era was weak and off the mark.
WHO ARE YOU MSGR.? I some how found you yesterday on the internet, by going from one link to another. I have been asking the Lord to put in my path holy priest(s)someone to help increase my faith and take it to a higher level. I guess He answered my prayers. I will surely follow your blog and all that you write. I will pray that you will not waiver like many other religious are doing today. Tell it like it is, just like Jesus did and wasn’t afraid to offend anyone. My prayers are with you………
I seek the Lord more deeply in my life and am still sometimes doubtful after having experienced Him. I guess I doubt too much. 🙂 God bless you, Father, and thank you!
This is really really beautiful Monsignor Pope & so wonderful to know that you are an organist!I also have been lost & found by God again & I also can say He’s very very very real & present in my everyday life:) Have you read Practice of the Presence of God? It’s a very wonderful book & has totally transformed my spiritual life! http://cgsorder.com/lawrencebretext04brola10.pdf
Amen I say to you my Brother,
I had witnessed here before as I grew up in the 60’s among an Evangelical Catholic Irish household.
We went to Animosa Iowa State prison to celebrate Mass among the imprisoned. We gathered clothing for those that were in need, housed migrant workers and my first real friend was a madam from a local house of prostitution. After my mother administered penicillin to her ladies,Miss Ruby would then accompany my mother and myself to Church to celebrate Mass. My mother was always in the front row and I was always right next to Miss Ruby in the last row, Miss Ruby was always waiting to go up in Flames for being there and mother told me why when I was in the Navy.
I became more fearful of death than sin so I became a slave to drugs and alcohol, paid for love, played Russian Roulette and was ashamed every time I looked into my mother’s eye’s. She never said a harsh word about my affairs other than I chose a path she found difficult to follow with all of my guilt. She embraced me in the arms of Jesus Christ and loved me for my soul and not hating me for the things I had done as she always would say “Jesus said we were to Love neighbor, but he never said anything about liking them and right now I do not like you very much”.
She was the first face I saw as I left the county jail, right next to her was my father and my brother, the one I attempted to kill. They all embraced me, told me I was loved by them all, forgiven for my sins and could I find it in my heart to forgive them for having me arrested. All I could think about was the story of the prodigal son and I have been an active Evangelist ever since I turned my life over to Jesus and felt his warm embrace fill my heart and soul.
Spiritual Combat by. Don Scipolli is an excellent read as is Confession by St. Augustine Heppo
Thank you for sharing this. Your words have touched my heart today.
Thank you for sharing your story, Msgr. Pope!
Though the details of our journeys differ, the fire was also ‘kindled’ in me and also from birth. I relate very much to your testimony Father, and am edified by hearing it. Thank you.
Msgr. Pope, thank you for your shining ode to Joy! I have my own too. Jesus does love each of us and is truly our companion in this life even if we don’t all ways feel Him. He is faithful to Himself that He is love and mercy for us.
Thanks for sharing Msgr. I too experienced meeting Jesus and your correct, there is no human way
you can describe the experience. It was at a Mass and there are no words. I have only told two people
what happened and it was twenty years ago that seem like yesterday. The love was beyond human
description. Your in my prayers. Pax.
Msgr when time permits you to be in ontario,CA there is a catholic movement there called holy studies, please visit that, mostly filipino-americans are members. Very phenomenal group, even priests and bishops and a cardinal from other countries have things to utter. Very simple people, mostly came from dark lives, but now works like you do and speaks like you do. The world will witness the greatest evangelization the world has never known. Observe them.. God has already made a move 45 years ago for the new heaven and new earth.
god bless you msgr and my prayers always with you.
Msgr, your testimony inspires me! I too was a product of the well-meaning but sketchy catechism of the 70s, and I strayed so far. Praise God that He called me back. I have spent the Year of Faith immersed in catching up on my catechism– and you have helped! I think that the new liturgical year needs to be a year of prayer, at least for me. I’ve tried to bring my mind up to speed; now it’s time for my heart. I yearn for a deeper relationship with Jesus. Your testimony and everything else in my faith life is pointing me toward more discipline in my prayer life.
Very touching story and thank you for sharing. I am beginning to experience his presence in prayer sometimes as I have surrendered my live to Jesus. I then went to confession and came back home. It isn’t always easy to change but by his grace I’ve purged many sinful actions from my life. As you’ve said there is a fire of love for him in my heart now. May God bless you Father
Thank You. Your testimony touched me, and I saw myself, and the journey I am on in it. Thank you for sharing it. I have a song that was given to me to sing, and in the singing of it I broke through to a new, much more deeper, peaceful place were I go to to rest and be with Him. I no longer have to sing the song to remember how to find the place, but it comes to mind when I go to settle myself there time and again. It is “And He Blessed My Soul”. I pray God continues to bless yours as well.
I’m sorry if this gets repeated, but I have submitted in once already and for some reason it did not display. Perhaps I pressed a wrong button, or something. So to be on the safe side, I will try again.
Dear Fr Charles
I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your incredibly honest and humble story of your life with Jesus – from birth – to losing personal touch – to coming back into a personal relationship with Him. If anybody ever doubted the very real existence of Jesus, they have only to read your testimony.
It certainly has made me realise that this is not just a ‘one-person’ story – it is my story too and, I know, the story of many others also – and like you, I praise God for dragging me back – and I had to be ‘dragged’ – from the very depths, I confess!
Born into and raised by two truly loving and holy evangelical Christian parents, who knew the fire that you talk of, I was taught and experienced the love of Jesus from a very early age, but then went through my ‘rebellious’ teenage years – only to find myself being physically as well as spiritually drawn back to God through the truth of the teaching of the Catholic church. I then experienced one of the most life-changing moments of my life – adult baptism at the age of 19 on the Feast of Christ The King, 1965. I truly felt that ‘fire’ of the Holy Spirit kindled in me at that evening Mass.
My story, however, differs from yours in one very sad respect. Having been accepted for training for the priesthood just two years later, I commenced at the seminary – but the rot had already set in and I was declining rapidly and eventually left – something I have always regretted bitterly. I felt lost after that; that I was no good and that God was no longer with me – that there was nothing worth going on for and sadly, rapidly fell into every kind of sin and degradation known to man, I have to confess. But – Praise God – whilst my decline was proportionate to that of King Manasseh – (although I did not go as far as murdering my own children, I am glad to say!) – the good Lord proved that His forgiveness was also the same for me as it was for this truly penitent King, and showed that he was still with me in the darkness through the prayers and ministrations of so many loving Godly people – friends, prison chaplains and many others – that I was forced to my knees whilst I was still a time-serving prisoner and I experienced my very real, new meeting with Jesus all over again.
And, praise God, I felt the fire, which I found had been smouldering away in the background throughout, had again been re-kindled in me so forcefully that, even with the struggles of trying to rebuild a useful and decent life and many setbacks, I was still able to praise Jesus and His father God, by humbly trying to walk with my hand in His, in an ongoing daily, prayerful re-commitment to Him and His loving kindness for me – the sheep that had been lost, yet brought back rejoicing!
I just felt the need to share this with you and others and pray that anyone who feels that they are too far off from God and the light and love of Jesus, has only to ask His forgiveness in a spirit of true penitence and Jesus WILL put out his hand, rekindle the fire, and invite you to take it again and walk with Him.
God bless us all.
So many are hungry for the witness of those who have known the darkness and know they have been rescued. Thank-you!! I am a physician and people need to know their identity in Christ far more than they need medications for depression. My own journey took me through darkness and my own sin into the light of His grace–and I am thankful that medications did not rob me of this profound healing. We need priests who understand the profound need for healing of all people that comes from the knowledge of who we are in Christ—the fire that all need kindled to be fully alive. Thank-you! We are LOVED!!!!
Thank-you Msgr. for your wonderful witness blog entry. God Bless.
Our Lord is present when our prayers are answered.
It’s strange how some suffer a worldly life of faith based belief while for others God is an undeniable presence of personal experience. It’s like being on opposite sides of the mirror.
The most characteristic feature of the Catholic priest is his horrid thirst for alcohol. By booze he sustains and nourishes his own pleasures, he prolongs his lust and depravity of mind. Booze he seeks and booze he must have. It is the doorway to sin and his escape from conscience. In Ancient Rome we find that the priest might be seen drunk, and also that booze is required by him, if he is to regain some measure of joy and a certain fulfillment of lechery. Nay more, the priest is he when he thus appears and has been given his meed of alcohol acquires sufficient liberty of self to engage in outright debauchery, to contest in wrestling the weak, to beget children, and self-gratify, all of which legend attributes to the hypocrisy of any priesthood founded on lies. But there is one point, and this a most important feature, which sharply clarifies the fundamental idea. The priest is a man ineffably evil, most hideous and foul. In Ancient Rome, and today, almost without exception, he is the happy, drunken one, the gay one, the charismatic predator nourished with booze to lend him his license to accomplish his tasks of appetite.
Father thats nice to hear…I too sawJesus in my darkest hours when I was 33
I go in and out on my spiritual slumber. It is so frustrating. I want to be free. Sometimes the mind and spirit are in constant conflict. I need prayer. I knew Jesus much more as a child. I wish everything could fall by the waste side and that I could get onto the path Jesus wants for me. Please please keep me in your prayers. Thank you for taking the time to write about your walk. Please continue to write so many of us can relate.
Fr. Christian Mustum downs Rolling Rock Beer and plays the banjo like those guys in “The History of Future Folk.” Only not very good and very off key.
He looks awful up there. He just can’t do mornings anymore. He’s still sleeping each day at noon. Just try making a morning appointment and you’ll see the dance he does to get you to an afternoon time. Not too late though because when he takes that first sip at mass, the day is over. What a mess this is. But everybody just looks the other way. Where’s the charity in that? Where’s the Christian love in that?
One of my fondest memories growing up was the Festival of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This was followed, of course, the following day by the CommunityBeer Can Clean-up, a three day event. Now, if I were in Ohio right now, I’d have to take about 10 minutes explaining what that is and why we made such a big deal over this event. But here in Montreal, I can just say “Festival of the BVM” and know that you all know what I’m talking about. My favorite event of that festival was the Virtus Training Parade. My family would take our Xanax and arrive downtown hours before the start time to make sure we got a good seat. We set up our camp along Main Street and during the wait, which seemed like an eternity, I would look down the street, imagining what it would be like when I heard the first faint notes of the Virtus marching bands or saw the first Accuser break free from the stands and thrash his way toward the bishop. I remember one year the Grand Marshal was William Shatner, himself. I remember thinking, “Wow, William Shatner! Who’s William Shatner? Oh, that guy from some hotel commercial.” I can remember my little-kid excitement as I watched him pass by, and the disappointment I felt when we left and we packed up our lawn chairs and headed back to the car. But you might ask “what’s the meaning of this story?” Well, let me tell you. You see, that particular day of Summer, it was unusually warm in Montreal. In fact, it was hot as Hell and we were all out of of Schlitz and the imported Soviet equivalent of Schlitz, Quebecstov. Well, on the way through the parking lot, who did I run into but Bill himself. He was sitting in his 1979 Tercel drinking a six-pack of iced, cold Schlitz and listening to “Hotel California” while doing the head-bob. I don’t know what possessed me, but I went over to him and asked if I could have a beer. He said “well………….yes. Join me in this…..overwhelmingly……. Tasty….. (Smirk) Beverage.” I jumped in and grabbed a beer. Next thing I notice is that Bill puts his hand on my knee and is leering at me and speak-singing: “So I called up the Captain, Please bring me my wine” He said, “We haven’t had that spirit here since nineteen sixty nine” And still those voices are calling from far away, Wake you up in the middle of the night, Just to hear them say…” At that point, I just put the beer down calmly, got out of the car and ran like Hell. He just kept speak-singing as I ran away. To this day, I cannot attend a parade of any kind or even watch one on TV. I DO, HOWEVER, DRINK schlitz constantly. I can honestly say that meeting the him was one of the scariest, and strangely exciting, moments of my empty, directionless life. I’ve always thought about what might have happened if I’d not given into the total creep-factor of that encounter and left. Thanks be to the BVM I’ll never know.
I recommend my “spirituality” to those who can pull it off. As a priest, I don’t have to sell anything, produce anything, or be accountable for anything. I do pretty much what I want when I want. The level of freedom I enjoy keeps me in the priesthood. I pursue my interests at will while recieving good pay and nearly unlimited respect from others. It’s a dream job and I love it. Want to be happy? Now that’s spirituality.
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